Thursday, April 19, 2012

SF - Public Transit

BART train a'coming (Rockridge station, looking up into the Berkeley hills)

So far, my biggest challenge is the commute.  I am spoiled in Montreal, where I have a 5-minute bike ride or 15-minute walk to work.  Here, I have a 20-minute walk to the BART station, a 35-minute BART ride under the bay to the Mission District and then either a 30-minute walk to the office or a 10-minute bus trip.  It works out to about an hour more or less each way.  I am figuring out a way to bring a bike into the mix. The problem is that on the hours that I'll be commuting, I can't take the bike on to the BART trains.

For those of you who love discussing public transit in Montreal over at the Montreal City Weblog, you'll be interested to hear that commuting here is friggin' expensive!  I have to pay $2 for the bus on the East Bay side, another $3.65 for the BART train and then another $2 for the Muni bus in San Francisco.  That makes $7.65 for a one-way trip if I choose not to walk.  There is a monthly pass for the BART, but it only applies if you ride it within San Francisco, so it is useless for me.  So that is roughly $15 a day!

I can't say how good overall the system is in terms of capacity, but during peak periods, there are plenty of trains and buses.  However, all the information around the buses and trains is pretty poor here.  BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, the train system) has a decent website, though trying to figure out their new Clipper Card was not easy.  The Muni (the bus system in SF and I think they oversee BART as well) site is just shit.  It took me 45 minutes to figure out how much a basic bus ticket cost in San Francisco.  It's kind of ironic that in the heart of the tech industry, their websites are so bootleg.  AC transit is the bus system for the East Bay and it is on an entirely different management, thus different website, different costs, etc.  There is some general transit website called that is supposed to help you with finding info for all of the various transit systems, but it seems like a javascript-burdened mess as well.  Maybe I need to dig deeper.

BART train arriving.  It does have a kind of '70s futuristic look.

1 comment:

meezly said...

just read a review for the new Taras Grescoe book called "Straphanger: Saving Our Cities and Ourselves from the Automobile", which you may find of interest. He travelled to major cities around the world to study the success and failures of urban mass transit for each city. Not surprisingly, he noted that North America is embarassingly behind in terms of efficiency and innovation. Not sure if he talks about SF/Bay Area though.