BART was originally designed to lure 1970s shag carpet homed car drivers out of their motor vehicles and into public transit. Thus couch-like seats covered in wool and living room like spaced seating in which riders can do bad illegal things (which you’ve experienced when riding BART on New Years eve or on a Saturday last car of the night). So now BART is going to refurbish their train cars this year 2010 through 2024 when 750 cars are scheduled to be updated in the system. Personally, I’ve seen the best system in the world – the Hong Kong MTR Octopus subway system. In Hong Kong, with the amazing public transit system available, you don’t need a car, you don’t even need a bicycle. I wish that could be said about the San Francisco Bay Area.
BART wants your input, here’s your opportunity to contribute. It’s very helpful if you’ve traveled the world and experienced other cities and countries transit systems to compare and contrast. Email your photos and experiences to email@example.com or use the contact form.
Below are photos (source: RACINGMIX) of the HK MTR system and my points on why it is the best train system in the world:
1) Handling of Passengers: Hong Kong MTR handles millions of people (3.94 million riders daily) and rush hour traffic load is like BART’s rush hour (390,000 riders daily) to the tenth degree yet it’s handled ten degrees more gracefully!
2) Convenience: Times between trains is single-digit minutes, not 20 minutes like BART typically is. This is why public transit is convenient in Hong Kong whereas most suburbanites in the Bay Area bemoan and complain about the inconvenience of our public transit system. Well, duh, County Connection buses are on 60 minute schedules, how reasonable is that!?
3) Safety: The trains don’t have doored compartments, the entire train is as one single train. You can view the entire length to the effect of a never ending mirror. This increases safety in which fellow passengers are truly aware of all activities and fellow passengers around them, infinitely more than fake cameras. This single train system also prevents the rush hour phenomenon in which some trains are packed and others that are half full.
4) Layout: The seats are strategically placed to maximize heavy traffic. You can transport luggage, bicycles and handicapped passengers due to the generous amounts of space between the seats. The center lined hand poles are essential in the HK system – and quite comfortable – and allow passengers to move about the train. Notice BART does not have these and often you see people stumbling about when BART is jolting forward or to a stop. Ever travel on BART with a couple bicycles? Notice how the current BART train’s huge couch living room seating arrangement prevents passengers from getting around a single bicycle? Another bonus is that riders no longer use the opposing seats as foot rests. Yet another plus is no more people passed out or sleeping in the corner of a seat – the open layout encourages people to be self-conscious: this is PUBLIC transit, not a private bedroom (or bathroom, yuck!).
5) Cleanliness: Hard floors and hard plastic seats – easily cleaned and kept clean. No strange stains, no more items stuck between cushions, no soda bottles stashed, no more caved in worn seats.
6) Station safety: I was at Rockridge the other night when there was a case of a jumper. The whole station shut down for a couple hours while the entire BART police force was dispatched to the station. I’ve never seen so many fire trucks in one place at one time. What’s a jumper? Well, someone that jumped in front of the train, while it was moving! It happens rarely and it sucks. Hong Kong MTR has PSDs which are doors that block access to the train tracks and open only when the train arrives stopped. It also helps with the temperature control and air quality within the subway stations. This is only a side note as such a system would be excessive for the BART system.