BART Shuts Down Tube

It’s one of those days commuters dread, since many don’t consider an alternative mode of transportation to and from work. Should they? Eh, I don’t know BART service is pretty reliable with a 95% on-time performance (show me an airline that can do that regularly), so even when there is a minor incident, service usually can be back on schedule within 30 to 60 minutes.

Today…well last night was one of those nights that turned the commute for BART riders into a complete shutdown of the Trans Bay Tube, which connections Oakland and San Francisco. The problem, a fire at an under construction build near the BART right-of-way (area in which the trains operate), which ended up burning a portion of our trackway, including the electronic equipment used to operate our trains. While there are contingency plans in place, sometimes even the best plan doesn’t work.

Reading different sources today and comments by the public, some fault BART for not doing enough. Such as this comment,

I believe BART should have taken a more active part in setting up alternative transportation to the City. Contracting with a private coach service, for instance – even charging us $5-10 to cover costs would have gone a long way toward getting us into SF and removing the frustration and freeway clog. They have once agan alienated their most prized rider- the commuter – who daily pays upwards of $10 to ride their system! Yes, the fire was unforeseen and not BART’s fault but as a member of the community, BART should take more responsibility!

More responsibility? The city bus companies were contacted real early in the process. Messages from BART’s web site went out, many commuters, if they took responsibility would have known BART was going to have issues, which we did all day. No service to downtown San Francisco. I knew by 4am when I got up there was no service, I made the decision to drive into work today. Regardless of the plans put into effect by BART with the other local transportation companies, the demand was just too much.

When BART carries some 375,000 riders a day and there is a major disruption in service no contingency plan is going to be good enough. While I don’t care for the local media, they were at some bus stops and the lines were hours long! When the bus would arrive it would already be near capacity. It’s no wonder many individual were stranded or had to look elsewhere to get to work.

Driving was an option, but it’s the worst traffic I have witnessed since I moved up here. I drove a pretty crappy commute for 2 years from Oakley to SFO Airport and I saw some bad traffic, but nothing like today’s congestion head towards downtown San Francisco. The infrastructure and transportation companies can’t shoulder a complete shut down like BART experienced today.

Thankfully at 3:45pm this afternoon service between West Oakland and Embarcadero was restored, which was probably a relief to many commuters. I know it’s a relief for me when I walk into the office tomorrow and know there will be some form of service. Much like the derail we had last year, I commend all the personnel involved, for getting service restarted in just over 12 hours. That is huge effort in order to service the riders who make BART one of the best systems in America.

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Would you sit next to this guy?

It’s been since August, 2011 I last posted something for ‘Standing Room Only’ a feature on my site that centers around commuting on BART, the light rail system in the Oakland/San Francisco area. The last time it was Anonymous mentioned in a story as they threatened cyberwar against BART, after the cellular service was shut off in downtown San Francisco stations preventing protesters from “organizing.”

This time, it’s a personal experience while riding the train. On May 19th my wife, God love her, shaved my head. First time since before we met about 9 years ago. She was not fond of the look, citing my head was “ugly.” I can accept that coming from a woman who has cut hear for 25 years or so. Now, she being my wife and me having a “stylist” as opposed to a barber she does what she wants to with my hair. Unfortunately there are times I have trouble getting an appointment to see her and the hair really starts to look shaggy.

So on May 19th something came over her and she shaved my head. It was short, nearly as short as how I wore it before I met her. Short enough you could call me a “skinhead” it was THAT short. The story doesn’t end there, it’s merely the beginning. A few months prior I bought a pair of Dr. Martens. Yes, these are the boots that are favored by skinheads. You see a theme developing here?

So the first day I go to work after my haircut I arrive at North Concord and walk to the platform to wait for my train. I get on, like I do every morning and ride it to Lake Merritt. This time, something was different. By Lafayette Station, the first car I was sitting in was full, except for one seat. That seat was next to me, yet there were people standing.

My morning is routine when I am on the train, I am reading a book on my Nook Color, minding my own business. Yet this day, no one would take the seat next to me. It didn’t take long to put the haircut and the boots together to realize many of these commuters probably thought I was a skinhead. Tell you the truth, doesn’t matter to me, gives me more room to stretch out on my 42 minute ride to work.

It is interesting to see the stares and glaces I get from people who are quick to label my look without knowing me. I don’t mind, label away people seem to be very good at that. My coworkers were a bit startled when I first walked in, but it seems to be a going joke now. Thankfully it’s not winter or I would look like the guy in the picture above, wearing my olive green flight jacket. Talk about looking the part.

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Anon: Follow Up

As I sat at work on Sunday I followed the news of Anonymous and the impending strike at BART their “decision to shut down wireless access was criticized by many as heavy handed, and some raised questions about whether the move violated free speech” (source). Twitter was alive with comments from #OpBART, #MuBARTek,
and others as 12:00 Pacific Time came around.

I had read the statement and watched the video, but it really didn’t seem many knew of the group or their intentions. I found this rather interesting. My co-workers must think I am some sort of crackpot because of the information I was passing and on and the rational behind why this as happening. I guess some don’t see the real issue at hand with this “attack” on Sunday.

The problems began Thursday night when BART officials blocked wireless access to disrupt organization of a demonstration protesting the July 3 shooting death by BART police who said the 45-year-old victim was wielding a knife” (source).

You can read more about the operation from the report at THN. “It also accused myBART of storing member information poorly with “virtually no security” so that “any 8 year old with a internet connection” can steal it.”

Today is the peaceful protest at Civic Center Station in downtown San Francisco, where participants are requested to wear “red shirt or clothes with fake blood stains, and to bring video cameras.” Don’t forget the Guy Fawkes mask either!

We Are Anonymous
We Are Everywhere
We Are Legion
We Never Forget
We Never Forgive

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Anonymous vs BART

From the Sunday online site, SFGate comes this story, Hacker group threatens cyberwar against BART. “Anonymous will attempt to show those engaging in the censorship what it feels like to be silenced,” a news release from the group said.” This in response to BART’s initiative to shut down cellular service in order to help prevent a protest last week. That protest was for (another) fatal BART Police shooting in July.

While many are not aware of the group known as Anonymous, if you run around in conspiracy circles, the group is world renown. “Anonymous is a group initiating active civil disobedience and spread through the Internet while staying hidden, originating in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain” (source).

It will be interesting to see what actually unfolds Monday as the actions call for a “nonviolent” protest in the evening at Civic Center Station. It’s not the protest that has me worried so much, as we have seen protests before disrupt service in the BART system, but it’s the possibility of the cyber attack that I would put more credence in.

You can take a look at some of their operations in 2011 they have undertook including Fine Gael, an attack on HBGaul Federal, Bank of America, Sony and the social networking juggernaut, Facebook. I guess we want and see just what Anonymous has in store for BART. In fact I was rather surprised to see a number of pinned threads at GLP regarding BART cutting cellular service. Can’t say I was too surprised to see the number of responses against TPTB and silencing individuals freedoms.

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