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San Fran – Part One

May 4, 2010

So I just got back from San Francisco a week ago, and, as the author of this awesome blog (why yes, I do like to toot my own horn), I had to experience all the transit I could.  What kind of budding transit geek would I be if I didn’t?  I had some great experiences, so I’m breaking them down into multiple segments, so keep an eye for them.

The system in San Francisco consists of multiple parts, BART and MUNI, cable cars, street cars, rail, and trolleys.  It’s the 8th largest system in the nation, just ahead of Atlanta at 9th.  However, they serve 800,000 a day while Atlanta serves nearly half a million, so that’s a huge gap.  However, I’m guessing half of that’s tourists who ride the cable cars, well, maybe a third.

My first experience with the system was BART (holy crap, it took me three tries to type that out right, cause I kept typing BARTA)  I took BART (two more) from the airport to my hotel downtown, on Powell Street.  I have to say, it wasn’t the most awesome transit experience I’ve ever had.  I’ve taken rides on MTA, CTA, WMATA, the Tube, etc, but BART (one more) pales in comparison to them all.

For starters, that’s the most confusing ticketing machine I’ve ever used.  It told me to insert a card, I use cash.  There was a $1 option, so I put in a dollar, and it spit quarters out at me.  Apparently that’s a change option.  Why do I need change for?  My guess, all the bums.  So I threw the quarters in my purse and tried again.  I was finally able to purchase a round trip ticket for the astounding price of $16.20.  It’s only like five stops.  Of course, I had put in $21 (one dollar to activate the machine and a twenty to buy the ticket) so I get another hand full of quarters back.  It gave me plenty of change to give to all the beggars around San Francisco.

MARTA Breeze cards 1, BART (AGAIN!!!!  Ah!) 0.
And MARTA Breeze machines give out dollar coins, so MARTA 2, BART (score! didn’t screw up!) 0.

So the train finally arrives and I’m on my way.  Yes!  And EW!

BART (FAIL) has cushioned seats.  You may be thinking, ‘O how nice, I bet they’re comfortable!’ and you might be right.  But I also know what happens on transit.  People spill things, throw up, and pee.  So I’m not a fan of cushioned seats.

MARTA 3, BART (yay!) 0.  (Yay cause I typed it right in one try, not cause they’re losing).

After a 30 minute ride, I made it to my stop.  Grabbed my bags and out I go.  My directions were to go to the Hyde Plaza.  Where there signs or station agents to direct me?  Nope.  I never saw one station agent any time I was on BART, so MARTA 4, BART 0.

I wish I would have taken a picture of that horrible machine, but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead.  One said they tried a system similar to MARTA’s Breeze, but that it failed.  I feel sorry for them.  I had expected to buy a trip pass, like MARTA’s day passes, but BART (one more) doesn’t offer them.  I was able to pick up a MUNI one.

But here are a couple of pictures.

Cushioned seats! Ew!

This sign actually made my day, how to evacuate the train.  PS – Leave your bike.  Apparently you can take your luggage with you, just not the bike.  MARTA, we need these.

So that’s MARTA 4, BART 1.  MARTA, you’re looking pretty good so far.  BART, not so much.

And me?  That was 9 typos of BARTA.

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