Heat Taunts BART Users on Spare the Air Day
May 15th was not only a “Spare the Air” day and “Bike to Work” day; it also was a day of record temperatures in The City. As the day went on, the heat soared to 97 degrees in the city.
As noon approached, trouble began to brew on the BART system. For the next 8 hours, the system was plagued by delays of 45 minutes or longer.
I met the BART problem head-on at rush hour last night. I arrived at Civic Center at about 4:40pm. Trains were being held in between stations and at stations for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. The first train only went to 24th street/Mission, so I didn’t get on. Then I realized, soon enough, the trains were ONLY going to 24th Street/Mission, where you would have to transfer.
17 minutes later, two more trains came and went, absolutely packed to the ceiling. Finally, I got on a train. At 24th Street, something strange happened- the train went backwards. Apparently, while I was zoning out in iPod land, the train had suddenly become a Richmond train and just started going the other way at 24th Street.
At 16th, I disembarked to attempt another try towards my destination. Alas, my “SFO” BART train, again, suddenly became a Richmond train and turned around. But, at least, this time, I managed to GET OFF the train at 24th.
The platform was packed with people, the trains kept turning around. Then two more packed trains rolled by. Finally, I braved one of the packed trains. My last BART train of the evening made several long pauses to cool itself, but I did finally make my destination at 6:20pm.
For a good deal of my platform time, a man rattled on about how it is often over 100 degrees in the East Bay and how BART has to fix the system. I usually find BART to be quite reliable, but informed him that with new budget cuts, he better get used to it. And suddenly, it reminded me of the opposite problem on a railed apparatus. At one Boston-area subway stop, about a decade ago, a monorail type car was installed to shuttle freezing passengers to their parked cars. It had a few successful weeks before the weather changed. But the first frost came, and the monorail broke. It turns out the mini-train was built in Florida, with no plans to ever sit in ice for 6 months.