Posts Tagged ‘bart’

Narrow streets, remixed

May 8th, 2015

Over at Steve Dombek’s Narrow Streets SF website, he proposes undoing America’s 20th century mistake of building ultra-wide streets here in San Francisco. Instead, the land would be sold off to build new housing, and we’d be left with traditional (or “narrow”) streets like you find in the rest of the world.

Naturally, this idea caught some buzz in the press given SF’s current housing shortages.

To look at one example, here’s Dombek’s plan for McAllister with before and after diagrams:


Seems like a nice plan, right? You get rid of the (largely wasted) space and put in new housing and retail.

But here’s the thing: where will all the money go from selling the land and the subsequent property tax? Well, that’s where my proposal comes in. Before the new structures get built, let’s dig a cut and cover subway underneath them.

I’m not sure McAllister Street would be the best fit for a subway, but to borrow Dombek’s diagram for illustrative purposes it could look something like this:


Personally my choice would be to build Muni Metro subways under a narrowed down South Van Ness and 19th Ave. to make up for Muni’s awful north/south service, and a new BART subway under a narrowed Geary Street. But those are just details.

The important point here is this: this is a way to kill two birds with one stone. And although I like birds, narrow streets with new subways is a win/win in my book. We can get this right.

BART needs platform walls

January 27th, 2015

Shanghai Metro

Recently we’ve had a number of cases in and around San Francisco where someone was hit by a train in a subway station. These tragedies — whether intentional suicides or simply accidents — have become common enough that we really should be doing something about it. It’s only fair for everyone involved.

Fortunately there’s a solution that already exists: walls. Specifically, walls with sliding doors that line up with the subway’s doors, just like how elevators have inner and outer sets of sliding doors.

Would you want to work in a building where the office elevator didn’t have outer doors, and instead you just stood next to an opening to the elevator shaft? No? Why should riding the subway be any different?

If you’ve ever taken the driverless airport tram at SFO (or many other airports) you’ve seen this first hand: there’s a glass wall between you and the tram, and the doors only open when the tram arrives. The tram only departs once both sets of doors are safely closed.

But this wall “technology” isn’t just for driverless trams — some major transit systems already have this, for example Shanghai Metro in the photo above. As the photo illustrates the yellow-tiled safety zone has been replaced by a thick piece of glass separating people from fast moving trains on the other side.

Walls have a side benefit as well: stopping the wind. No need to worry about holding a paper steady or having your hair re-arranged by the wind from a fast approaching train.

The good news is that BART has at least considered this recently, but so far they don’t seem to be in much of a hustle to build anything. That’s a shame for us all.

UPDATE:

Newly elected BART director Nick Josefowitz responded on Twitter:

BART to the future fleet

April 17th, 2014

BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype BART's Fleet of the Future prototype

Today BART launched the first of several workshops with a full-scale prototype of their new train cars. They’re looking for rider feedback before finalizing the design. Most of it seems pretty nifty:

  • Comfortable, easy to clean seats
  • Extra set of doors for faster boarding
  • Bike racks
  • Digital signs and maps

BART says their new trains will be quieter on the inside and have better air conditioning, but these features weren’t part of the demo.

I took the time to voice my concerns about the boarding difficulty that the redesign didn’t address. One BART representative suggested a couple mirrors might solve the problem, which is an interesting alternative I hadn’t considered.

If you’re interested in checking out the prototype and giving feedback, several more workshops are scheduled. If all goes as planned we’ll start seeing these new trains in 2017.

Handwritten song lyrics taped to pole

April 11th, 2014

Hope There's Someone lyrics

I’m not entirely certain what compels someone to write out the lyrics to the 2005 hit Hope There’s Someone by Antony and the Johnsons, then tape the page to a pole in a BART station. Perhaps they were inspired by the recent Avicii version?

In all likelihood we’ll never know. It will remain as one of the unsolved mysteries of our time, just like that wooden box.

BART station side hatch

March 14th, 2014

This morning I arrived at the 16th Mission BART station only to find the entry was blocked by a steel gate! Oh no! How would I get to work?

Turns out a detour through a secret passage was necessary, as documented in the photos below.

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New BART trains don’t address boarding issue

March 8th, 2014

The new BART train cars will have lots of improvements over the current ones. But there’s one boarding issue that they didn’t quite tackle.

See what’s missing from their design, as pictured above?

You may have to take a step back, so to speak, in order to notice. Consider how people board BART trains: commuters and other frequent riders wait in a line or small group on the station platform near where the train’s doors stop when it pulls into the station. Generally they let other passengers off first before anyone gets on.

Or at least, they try to. On current BART trains it’s difficult to tell if there’s someone waiting to exit before you get on, because the trains are designed like this:

Now Boarding

As you can see from Todd Lappin’s above photo, there aren’t windows next to the doors. This means you can be standing on the platform, unable to see an exiting passenger before you try to board. Not exactly a well thought out design.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Van Ness Muni Metro Station

As the above photo by Roshan Vyas illustrates, even when Muni Metro’s doors are open you can still see the people inside. You can wait for them to get off before shoving your way on — or not, like certain impolite Muni passengers at rush hour. But either way at least there isn’t a wall at a crucial point in the train car exterior.

BART’s new trains narrow this boarding blind spot, but they don’t eliminate it. Look at all this wasted space:

I understand there needs to be a place for a map and maybe some ads on the trains, but this isn’t the place for it. There shouldn’t be a need to pick between faster boarding and information — both goals are attainable without sacrificing one for the other.

Proof that Mitch Hedberg never rode BART

March 7th, 2014

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“An escalator can never break, it can only become stairs. You will never see an escalator out of order sign, just ‘escalator temporarily stairs — sorry for the convenience.’”

– Mitch Hedberg

 
While he may have taken Muni Metro, it’s clear that Hedberg never rode BART.

Things San Franciscans despise: filth

May 7th, 2012

Most visitors would be shocked to learn that San Franciscans hate filth.

Ours is a city that doesn’t want to stay clean, but we try our best. Some cleaning accomplishments we’re especially proud of include:

  • We require restaurants to display a hygiene score card.
  • We have a number to call for park and sidewalk cleaning.
  • We heavily fine anyone who dares block our street cleaning vehicles’ precise schedule.

Yes, we live in moldy old buildings. Yes, the entire city often smells terrible. And yes, that’s human urine on your car door. Sorry, I should have told you not to park here.

Tourists don’t recognize our little obsession with cleanliness because we often focus on minor details, ignoring larger issues that are politically unpalatable to address head-on.

The poster child for our cleanliness obsession reaching a disorder level is Bart. Despite drug deals and human excrement problems in certain stations, Bart focuses on appeasing germaphobes who demand free hand sanitizer and inorganic germ-resistant vinyl seats.

This isn’t to say San Franciscans are trying to scrub away our hippie image; we’re just washing our organic heirloom tomatoes with soap these days.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go confirm that the overflowing trash can I reported to 311 was emptied.

 

Original photo by gruntso.

Yet another punk show at 16th Mission Bart

June 17th, 2011

Yesterday evening we had another little punk show at the 16th Mission Bart stop. Unlike many previous shows, this one was right in the middle of things; not much buffer zone between the audience and the band.

I wasn’t there when they finished up, but I hear that things ended quite early.

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Another punk show at 16th Mission Bart

September 1st, 2010

A rather loud all-girl band from Olympia was playing at the 16th and Mission Bart stop this evening. Here’s a few pics.

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