A Transportation Horror



By Richard Colman, The California Political News and Views

BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) is a horror story. 

BART serves — or is supposed to serve — passengers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 BART is supposed to be government-run example of the best of socialism.

 BART provides fixed-rail transportation that is both above ground and below ground.

 When promoted in the 1960’s, BART promised to take riders swiftly and cheaply to their destinations.  For example, BART was supposed to whisk passengers, in about 20 minutes, from Lafayette, California, an affluent suburb 20 miles east of San Francisco, to San Francisco itself.

 When BART opened in the early 1970’s, there was enthusiasm for riding BART.  People would buy tickets just to experience a BART ride.

 In the last seven to ten years, BART has become a horror story.  Instead of fast, clean transportation, BART has become crime-ridden and expensive.

 Here are 10 reasons to avoid BART:

 (1) CRIME:  BART is dangerous.  In Lafayette, two passengers were stabbed while standing on the platform, waiting for a train.  In Oakland, 40 to 60 marauding youths entered a train and started robbing and beating passengers.  By the time the police arrived, the hoodlums were gone.

 (2) COST:  BART is too expensive.  Riding BART can cost $69 or for a two-day pass.

 (3) THE SUBSIDY:  BART is supported by taxpayers in several counties such as Contra Costa, Alameda, and San Francisco.  The subsidy involves a one-half percentage point increase in the local county sales tax.

 (4) PARKING:  At many BART stations, there is supposed to be ample parking.  Instead, many BART parking lots on workdays are full by 7:00 A.M.  BART parking used to be free.  Now, a vehicle has to pay a fee to park in a BART lot.

(5) STRIKES:  In 2013, BART workers went on strike twice.  In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt said public employee strikes are not acceptable.  Why are BART workers allowed to strike?

(6) GATE-JUMPING:  In recent years, there has been an epidemic of people jumping over BART gates and getting free rides.

(7) NO SEATS:  When boarding a BART train, there are often no seats, especially during rush hour.  Thus a passenger boarding a train going from Lafayette to San Francisco may have to stand for the entire journey.

(8) RUDE EMPLOYEES:  Sometimes the ticket-dispensing machines at BART stations do not work properly.  After a person pays for his ride and does not get his BART ticket, he has to speak with a BART attendant, who can display a hostile attitude.

(9) OVERPAID EMPLOYEES:  BART workers earn significant amounts of money and work less than 40 hours per week.  In 2015, a BART janitor, whose annual salary was supposed to be $57,000 a year, earned $270,000 annually.

 (10) CLENLINESS:  BART trains can be dirty.  Sometimes passengers have body odor.

 So there you have it:  10 reasons to avoid BART.

 The time has come to demolish BART or make it self-supporting, safe, and part of private enterprise.

 People who need to go somewhere should find an alternative to BART.  Why pay a lot of money for the privilege of ending up beaten, robbed, or dead?


Richard Colman is the founder and president of Biomed Inc., a biotechnology, publishing, and informatics company.  He is a biochemist and earned masters and doctoral degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.  He lives in Orinda, California.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

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