Thursday, August 2, 2007

Etiquette when on Bart

I am a daily rider of BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). We have a real love/hate relationship. I would break up with BART, but it's proven to be the quickest way for me to get to and from work. I don't know if it's the actual system that I dislike, or if it's the people I am subjected to when I'm on the train. I think it may be a combination of both.

My primary complaint is the cleanliness of the trains. I know a New Yorker would probably eat off of the floors of a Bart train just to show me what a diva I am being. I suppose if I were to compare it to a subway it's not so bad. But guess what? I’m not. So the trains are dirty. They gross me out. I refuse to sit in the last row of seats on any of the train's cars. Too many times have I boarded a train to find a homeless person has taken refuge in that row of seats. More often than not, I find someone sprawled out, and fast asleep in that row of seats. And they smell. If the seats weren't upholstered perhaps they wouldn’t smell. It might make the conditions more sanitary. But the seats are covered in cloth that is saturated with brown stains. All of the seats appear to have these stains. When I think about where those stains come from, my stomach just curdles.

My secondary complaint is unseasoned users of Bart. You can tell the unseasoned user upon entering the station. They always walk slow, like the world is their oyster and time isn't of the essence. These same people stand stationary on the left of the escalator when everyone knows that this is the moving line. They look all bewildered when you push past them to make your train. Of course they are also on the train, with their bags, obstructing the entrance/exit. Why are people so clueless? If you know you have a long ride in store, move your ass to the middle of the train. It's not that difficult. Example: I get on the train in West Oakland in the morning. There are people standing right in the path of the doors, with four suitcases. I assume they are going to the SF Airport, yet that stop isn't for another 30 minutes. And there they stand, as if the exit will come at any moment. Bart has provided maps for people right next to the door of each train so that they are aware of each stop the train will make. Of course the maps are ignored.

My third issue with the train is safety. Have you seen your Bart police as of late? Somehow I don't feel reassured when I see them on the platform. It's just another reminder that any concerns that affect your safety in this country are dispensed on an "as needed" basis. So when I get to the platform and there is a cop with a German shepherd milling about, I become a nervous ninny. What are they not telling me? Was there a threat? A scare? The last thing I need is for some anarchist to play suicide when all I want to do is go home. Don't pull me into your political shit. I don't care who engineered the damn train, or who profits from the train’s use. Since I am wearing my politically incorrect, insensitive hat right now, I will admit a secret. I never ride the Fremont train. You know why....

Anyhow, I wonder why Bart doesn't pony up for some beefier security. Can we get some sort of deterrent for crime on the trains? Bart’s prices are forever increasing, yet the trains remain dirty, the service is inconsistent, and the security measures are non-existent. Maybe I do want to know who's profiting from that 20 cent increase I keep incurring.

I got to thinking about what could make my BART experience less painful. Below is a list of Do's and Don'ts. If you follow them, I think everyone will be less tense and able to make the experience a bearable one.

Do be considerate of the people around you. If the train is crowded, don't move around too much and bump people with your bags. Just stand still. We know it's cramped but your moving doesn't make it better.

Do wear deodorant. I don't care how hippy your roots are or how sensitive your skin is. Wear it, damn it! And don't skimp. Why should I be subjected to your funk?

Do move to the middle of the train if you know you're going to be on it for a good 10 stops. It's inconsiderate to everyone else if you are obstructing the entrance and exit.

Do step off the train to allow people to enter and exit if you're forced to stand right by the door. And take your shit with you when you get on and off. I hate having to step over people's stuff to get on the train.

Do have your ticket ready to put in the turnstile when exiting the station. Don't hold everyone up while you search the depths of your jumbo purse for the ticket.

If you are going to breathe with your mouth open, DO use a breath mint. This is aligned with the request to be funk free.

Don't blow up the damn train. Don't even conceive of this. Take your barbaric solutions back to the Middle East where the people are used to such extremism.

Don't fall asleep and rest your head on my shoulder. I really hate this. I don't know you like that.

Don't stand stationary on the left side of the escalator. This is the moving line. Keeps it moving.

Don't block the entrance of the train if you are standing in line on the platform. Step to the side so I know you aren't boarding.

Don't drink coffee on a crowded train. If it spills on me, we're going to have beef.

Don’t put your bags on an empty seat and act like it’s an inconvenience to move them if someone wants to sit down. That’s just rude.

If you can think of other do's and don'ts, feel free to add them in the comment section. I will update the list as we go.