Last Friday I had to meet up with a friend I’m doing some freelance work for and I had to meet her in Oakland. As you know I have a hatred for the Bay Bridge, so I suggested that if we could meet somewhere near a BART station that would work out best for me. She found a coffee shop right next to the Rockridge BART station so we had a date.
Now it’s been close to 10 years since I’ve taken a trip on BART and it was hard to remember what it was like back then. Well, 10 years ago is a long time these days. I hopped on MUNI and rode it down to Embarcadero and went up and then back down to BART. The first thing I noticed was that there were fewer people waiting for BART. The MUNI had been jammed up all the way down to Embarcadero with people who were more likely to push and shove to get their way around. BART was a whole different story.
First off, MUNI has cold hard seats that encourage you to spend as little time on it as possible. BART had nice cushioned, comfy seats that while being stained a bit and dirty wasn’t so bad. There was also lots of room on BART and less people. I do remember many years ago when I had to use BART during rush hour to travel to a rehearsal space in Oakland that was fairly uncomfortable, but nothing near what it was during rush hour in the city.
So as I’m sitting down in my comfy chair and we speed off into the transbay tunnel the first thing I noticed was that we were going fast. Then I noticed it was kind of loud. I pulled out my iPhone to run my decibel meter to find out that the average noise level was 95db with a peak of 105db. That’s louder than MUNI, but then I noticed something I never noticed on MUNI. I had 5 bars of service underwater and free WiFi access. WTF? Why doesn’t San Francisco have this? There was a guy sitting across from me who was happily surfing the web and going work on his laptop while we were cruising along just like me on my iPhone. I kind of wished I had the iPad with me as it would have been enjoyable to watch a TV show while I was cruising along.
It turns out that to watch a half hour TV show I would have had to travel almost to Pittsburgh to get the whole show in. BART is fast. It also uses the Clipper card now so I didn’t have to buy an extra ticket enroute that I would probably never use within the next 10 years. All in all, it was a nice fast trip. In the BART station the announcements were in a very well spoken, understandable English and the stations overall just seemed cleaner. There were signs that told you which stops to get off at for the various destinations around the Bay which was a nice addition as I didn’t realize how easy it was to get to places outside of San Francisco. Now if they could only find a way to put a station near IKEA and the shopping centers next to it we would travel across the bay far more often. I think I may have found an alternative to the hell of the Bay Bridge, I just need to see what’s around the stations for me to visit.