b Papa Dog's Blog: The Discreet Charm of the Commuterie

Papa Dog's Blog

A Thing Wherein I Infrequently Write Some Stuff

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The Discreet Charm of the Commuterie

Worst sardine ride in a long time homeward bound on BART today. I’ve been trying to get out of the dirt farm earlier, and it was so slow today that I cut out before it was even 5:30, placing me on the train at peak commute hours. Faced with spiralling costs and dwindling ridership, BART has been shortening trains. Ten-car trains to the East Bay are full at commute time. For a long time we’ve made do with nine-car trains. Now they’re running eight-car trains at the absolute peak. From a cost-benefit point of view, this is presumably a sensible thing to do. From a customer relations point of view it is – oh, what’s the term? – full-blown lunacy. I heard the driver talking it over with an irate customer, explaining how cutting the cars saves X million dollars a month. This is no doubt accurate. But the operating costs are only half of the equation; loss of ridership is a huge issue. Take it from me, BART – forcing people to cram into overstuffed overheated cars with their noses wedged into one another’s armpits is not going to increase ridership. I rode for twenty minutes from Embarcadero to Rockridge literally smashed up against the doorway with people pressed on every side of me, my arm bent up and my neck twisted back, trying to read my book. It was like being in Japan, only with fat people. When the train got to Rockridge and my door opened, I had no room to bend down, so I just kicked my briefcase out onto the platform and jumped free, gasping for breath. It was a swell ride.

You’d be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic public transit advocate than me. BART has been my principle mode of transportation for most of the past twenty years. Hell, I’ve long argued that private ownership of automobiles should be against the law. But after today, if there were a workable alternative for me, I’d be taking it. Listening to the people complaining in the car leads me to conclude we were pretty much all on the same page. I’m quite certain that most of them are slightly less extreme in their anti-auto zeal than I. There are probably more than a few who consider driving to work a viable alternative. Way to chase them back onto the freeway, BART.

Me, I’m stuck with you. The nearest Transbay bus stop is too far away and the casual carpool fills me with dread that I might have to make conversation with someone. But, damn. I’m never getting on an 8-car train at Embarcadero in rush hour again. Sorry, Mama Dog. I’ll have to ride back a few stops, get a seat, and be home twenty minutes later. If you were someone who wasn’t me, it would be enough to make you want to drive.


Blogger Judy said...

My husband leaves work about 15 minutes after he gets out, and he still gets home at the same time - it is all a matter of timing.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Twizzle said...

Please try Casual Carpool, Papa Dog! I've heard that there are unspoken rules about Casual Carpool, namely:

1. The first rule of Casual Carpool is not to talk about Casual Carpool.

2. If the car radio must be played, it must be tuned to NPR.

3. There is to be no conversation initiation amongst the driver and its passengers. If talking must occur, conversational topics must be kept light: no politics. talk abou the weather.

9:35 PM  

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