Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rules for Commuting: Keep Moving

Bay Area Rapid Transit system is not the most complicated system in the world. In fact, it is very easy to use and navigate simply because it isn't very good. It doesn't go very many places, nor is it a truly mass transit system (for that try the Paris or DC metro systems during rush hour). There are only four lines with very few stations. The platforms are wide and the trains are large, with seats far wider than necessary. So I don't quite understand why it is so hard for people to use.

Here is the deal, if it is 8:15 in the morning and you are carrying some sort of satchel and wearing hard soled shoes, you have probably done this before. That means that the process of inserting your ticket into the front of the gate and retrieving it from the top should be second nature. Insert ticket, step through gate, take ticket. No pausing involved.

Oh, you may be paranoid that the ticket did not actually go though. Yes, they were always a bit difficult. They can be demagnetized if you even think about putting them next to your credit card, and many gates run low on ink so you can't tell if that is the $3.30 you need to get to work, or a paltry 80 cents. And now that they have those new fancy tickets, if they have a hint of concaveness from being in your back pocket you can forget trying to use them.

But guess what? Those orange gates are there for reason. When they open it means your ticket has worked. Step through, retrieve ticket and keep moving. Because if you don't, then people like me who have attempted to take advantage of BART's endeavors at becoming closer to mass transit have to deal with the consequences of your incompetence.

Yes, if you insert your ticket and the gates open not once but twice, that means you have taken so long to go the entire two feet through the gate that you are now going through on my fare, because silly me I thought we were trying to get to work efficiently. And for the record, if for some strange reason I think you will maintain the speed you had in racing in front of me to go through the gate and I tap my card before the gates close, then that extra long opening is also thanks to my fare. So now I have to go try and get the attention of the BART attendant who may or may not make it easy for me to go through the non-fare gate, depending on how busy they are chatting with their colleagues, decorating their booth for the upcoming holiday, or explaining to people why it costs $4.50 to come in and out of the same station (yeah, I don't get that either).

So here is what I suggest: Get yourself one of these.

Then you won't have to pause and second guess the success of your transaction and I won't run into you when your paper ticket fails to go through and you look around bewildered like this is the first time that has ever happened in the history of commuting.

You will never have to add fare and you will save money - well, at least 3 bucks every few days, anyway. Like I said, they are trying. Oh sure, The Man can track where you get on and off, but I doubt they are really that concerned with your daily commute. And guess what? It removes one whole step from that very difficult process of insert, walk, retrieve. Now you just tap and walk.

Unless, of course, the person in front of you pauses.

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be nice.


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