Scope and Schedule

BART map  and BART Schedule

I obsess about subways. I think they are one of the most important things we build as a species. Unsurprisingly to those who know me, i have developed an entire rating system, which balances scope of service, hours of operation and ticket price. This system posits that Moscow has the top rated underground transport.

The Moscow Subway stations are some of the more artistic as well

On this trip, I have been staying in Berkeley and often visit San Francisco – which means I travel on BART. The Bay Area Rapid Transit and I have been friends since I graduated. But in the time I have been gone, she has finally matured. The difference since I lived in the Bay Area back in the ’80s is two-fold: scope and schedule.

BART system map circa 2011

BART now goes out to San Francisco International Airport (SFO). For it to be a world class system the light rail must connect the CBD with the airport. And it was politics, not planning that kept this logical transit hub off the original route for the system. Similarly the fine folks from Marin did not wish for the great unwashed to be zipping in by inexpensive and convenient light rail, so they remain less accessible. And the system is expanding; I imagine in a decade it will connect seamlessly with San Jose.


But for me it is the more elegant touches that promote BART to the rank of the finest systems – that is timed transfers. When you pull into MacArthur or 19th street in Oakland, the train you are transferring to is on the opposite side of the platform having just arrived. You walk across the platform, sit down and the train goes. [Of course the Dutch figured this out decades ago, but the yanks do it almost nowhere.]

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

5 responses to “Scope and Schedule”

  1. ivy says :

    maybe because i’m comparing BART to boston’s T, i find BART really lacking in stops: it leaves out such giant portions of oakland as well as SF and berkeley, not to mention the suburbs. in boston you’re never more than a short walk from a T stop. that’s something i find annoying about BART. also, it stops running so much earlier than other cities’ systems. but at least it’s got comfy seats.

  2. blue says :

    BART was never conceived as anything but a way to get workers from the suburbs into SF and its schedule reflected that. It’s improved a bit in terms of off commute time frequency, but its main focus is pushing further into the far suburbs.
    And its cops are a bunch of thugs! Oscar Grant didn’t need to get shot!
    When I pass through Coliseum station, if there are cops there — usually when there’s a game at the Coliseum — they’re just circled around, gabbing, not paying attention.
    I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen a BART cop on a train — maybe that’s good, since they’re such thugs!
    Ivy: studies suggest those comfy seats are riddled with bacteria!

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