Educated Riders = Better Riders?

I post on very few, okay one BART related blog, the other is not worth my time to respond to for various reasons. As I boarded up today at North Concord, during commute I started thinking, why is there not a site or a portion of a blog that attempts to educate the ridership of BART. The way I figure it, the riders on the C Line are probably more knowledgeable when it comes the ridership.

What I mean by educate is to give riders a basic understanding of some of the terms used at BART, as well as some of the unique features. For example, if you call the Train Operator, let them know what car you are on and what end, denoted by an ‘X’ or a ‘Y’ listed next to the car number above the inner car closure doors. Some riders also assist the Train Operator when there is a slow closing or stuck door in the pocket. Trains won’t depart with a door open and could possibly be taken out of service if the door cannot be closed. That is something no patron wants.

These are just a two examples but a full list of items could benefit both the ridership and BART to making the system run smoother. Potential topics could include:

  • Wayside Terminology
  • Station Information
  • Trains
  • Etiquette

While I would enjoy a project like this, I don’t think I could really go into as much detail as I would like for fear it could jeopardize my position at BART. I am sure if you read some web sites, information was provided by some who possibly work for BART. Information that would probably be considered “internal.” This is pure speculation.

I do think it would be an interesting concept to educate the riders in order to “get them on board” so to speak. Looking at the BART web site, there is a Rider Guide, but it really does not go into the details I was considering. Maybe the future BART will educate the ridership.

Where is the enforcement?

Now I don’t want to come off sounding line an a-hole, but why many people in our community not take care of their yards? I don’t get it, makes very little sense to me because I put in a few hours a week, on my days off making sure I have a presentable house. Okay, so sometimes the inside of the house is not as clean as we would like it. But the fact remains 95% of my neighbors will never see the inside, yet 100% see the front yard on a daily basis.

The city of Oakley and the Homeowner’s Association both have regulations/ordinances in place for “preservation of property values, promotion of civic pride, and protection of the public health and safety to establish minimum standards for the maintenance of residential and other real property.” Both document talk about what can and cannot be allow in the “common area” or curbside and “weeds over 18 inches in height” are included in both. I do believe the HOA CC&Rs are a bit more restrictive when it comes to the regulations, but the city helps by setting forth these municipal codes.

Now, the problem. Enforcement. Say I am upset with my neighbor because the guy never takes care of his front yard and after any sort of storm or heavy wind I am stuck cleaning my yard because he cannot maintain his. Specifically a 25-foot tall magnolia tree that, during this time of year seems to shed it leaves on a daily basis. Okay, so his tree is not specifally cited. I know, but the “high and mighty” HOA wants to cite me for various infractions (2 since we moved in) and do nothing about the quality of the neighborhood.

Maybe we take a page from Canton, Ohio where the City Council, “wants to beef up its existing high-grass and weeds law by making a second offense a fourth-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to 30 days in jail. [Click to read story] Amen! I am all for that! Get some of these people off their collective asses and clean up your yard! Of course I highly doubt that this will pass, but there needs to be something done in order to do some work.

I guess I care too much about the appearance of my house and yard. I am always out there, cutting back bushes, cleaning my portion of the sidewalk, mowing grass and sweeping and making the curbside appearance something I am proud of. Can’t say that for all but one of the neighbors around me. Overgrown weeds…err…grass, weeds growing out of the rain gutters (how does that do unnoticed?) and overall a very poor, unkept appearance. Guess I won’t start ratting out my neighbors, after all they DID sign my petition in order to keep my antenna erected.

Wunderliks at BART RAGE

I am sure many companies have them, like it or not. I am speak about those sites that allow the public to comment on horrible they are. United Airlines was mocked by and BART is spoofed by

Now, I don’t even know why I bring this up. No. Wait, I actually do. Some of these folks are complete idiots when it comes to their comments about the “the district.” Prior to coming to BART I had read BART RAGE, although never post. I guess those supposed “patrons” think something will change if they complain loud enough. Fact is, it won’t, so they have a web site to vent and think it is making a difference.

There are some users at the site who provide some good information, I suppose some are employed by BART and are attempting to “educate” the ridership on some of the unique situation that arise on BART. Unfortunately, many just want to complain, I guess that is just how it goes this day and age.

While an informed ridership is a more healthy ridership, I don’t think the bitching and complaining at this web site will actually educate anyone. While I would like to make an account and “educate” some on why things happen as they do, I don’t think it would be beneficial to my career at BART if I did so.

So I guess those bitter riders will remain pissed off at public transit and do nothing more than complain rather than report or help fix what THEY think is a deteriorating system. Case in point, there are countless mobile phone pictures taken of patron committing violations. But none of these ever include, “I contacted the TO” or “I called BART Police” or “I let a station agent know.” So please, patrons, take SOME responsibility here.

Another relative point, you complain about dirty cars. Guess who makes them dirty? YOU DO! Yes, the ridership is to blame. Take your newspapers, trash, empty containers and whatever the hell else you bring on the trains with you when you leave. BART wants cars as clean as you do, TOs aren’t leaving or creating the messes in the car.

So while this web site is not all that supportive at times, it does provide an interesting overview from a percentage of riders. Oh and if I have not said it yet, riders on the C Line are the most educated riders in the system. More on that take later.

Nice Parking & Field Trips

I had a few first this past week related to BART, outside my scheduled weekly shift. I ride the train everyday from North Concord to either Lake Merritt or Oakland City Center and walk a few blocks. Yesterday, as regularly scheduled my 5-car train berthed and I boarded up…to a lead car full of kids. Yes, you guess it, my first field trip.

It was the entire car! Nearly every seat was filled with 2-4 kids, I even had a kid offer his seat to me. Thought that was nice and responded with a “Thank you.” Although that lasted to Concord, where I gave my [ADA seat] to an elderly couple with luggage on their way to the airport.

Overall, the trip was uneventful and the kids were well behaved. Other patrons seemed perturbed by all the kids taking “their seats” but far be it from any of these individuals to move to another car. You see the looks in their eyes and hear the sighs as they boarded up Romper Room. Somewhat funny to watch from behind my sunglasses.

The adults with the school kids had all of them under control. Yelps of joy when the trains would go underground did send some older patrons out of the car. They all off boarded at MacArthur Station to wait for the Fremont train. I figured it was a good idea to walk into work from 12th Street.

Today I arrive at North Concord looking for parking, hoping to make the 1208, but knowing it would be the 1223. I did not bother with the top lot and headed down to the main lot. Saw a few close spots, so I turned right with the intention of taking one.

Lo and behold there are people who do not know how to park their over sized, gas guzzling SUVs. I had to pass three partially open spots and could not fit my little GMC Sonoma into any of them because of how these asshats parked.

I know N. Concord is a big lot and mainly used as overflow parking from Gun Point…Bay Point. So as I head farther away from the station, I notice another car that intentionally parking in the middle of two spots. I know that parking in BFE is a bit more plentiful, but damn, have some respect for your fellow riders. I did call the plates into BPD. I doubt anything was done, but I felt a sense of accomplishment.

A True Championship!

One of the BEST football games I have ever seen took place today (well yesterday) in Moscow. The Champions League Final! For the first time ever it was an all English final featuring Manchester U versus Chelsea.

Just a week prior to this match, Manchester United won the Premiership straight out, as Chelsea allowed a late goal for a 1-1 draw. Manchester United would have won regardless, even with a Chelsea win because of goal differential.

Today’s game was live from Moscow on ESPN. How I missed the live broadcast of it, I don’t know. I guess I was looking for a REAL football channel to cover the action, not a wannabe football channel. Thankfully we had two of the best announcers in Martin Tyler and Andy Gray.

I was able to catch the entire game on Setanta after it had been concluded and I knew the outcome (because I had to watch a penalty shootout on, but that did not make the game any less dramatic or exciting.

Overall, the teams played very offensively, just look at 27 shots Chelsea had. An unheard of number! The action was all Manchester United in the first half, with some good end to end action and beautiful header by the second best player in the world, Christiano Ronaldo. Oh the best player, Kaka, of course!

A late, “excuse me” goal by Frank Lampard evened the team, as Edwin Van Der Sar slipped coming out, cutting down the angle, as the ball took two odd ricochets off players and ended up in the net.

The game was great into the second half, as there were some great chances for both team, especially Man U. Yet with all the action and excitement, no goals could be had by either squad. This meat overtime periods.

If the only unfortunate event, Didier Drogba, lost his head for a moment and had a swipe at Nemanja Vidic on the chin, late in the 114 minute after some “controversy” on a throw in by Manchester United. As the scuffle broke out, players had to be separated and when it was all said and done, two yellows and one red were handed out.

Now this event alone did not loose the game for Chelsea. It was just a black eye on Chelsea and looks even worse in how things transpired.

The penalty shootout was exciting! No other word can describe it. Petr Cech made a great save on Ronaldo, who pussy footed up the ball and was not rewarded. That alone was enough to give Man U the finger and present the CL trophy to the Blues. But more drama was to unfold.

England and Chelsea Captain, John Terry strode up the ball, rain coming down facing Edwin Van Der Sar. It was one of those sporting moments that defines “the agony of defeat” (remember the ski jumper on Wide World of Sports?). Terry made his approach and just as he struck the ball, his planted left foot gave out, and as if in slow motion, the ball went right, off the woodwork.

At that point Chelsea was done. It was truly Manchester United’s match to give away. Ryan Giggs and Anderson both scored, while Nicolas Anelka, the newest member of Chelsea took his shot, to the left that was saved by Van Der Sar. The match was over.

Truly one of the BEST matches to be watched, all-time. I have seen some good matches, some exciting matches, some dramatic victories. But this game captured the essence of “the beautiful game.”