Friday, March 11, 2016

The Real Problem

This week's local transport news was puzzling to those who don't take BART regularly:
If you take up more than one seat you could fork up $100....The first offense would be $100 and the second $200. Anything after that, as much as $500.
Sure, your humble blogger is irritated when seat hogs won't move their bags when people are standing, but he prefers to handle this matter via moral suasion than the BART police. And causing a rude human being to pay $100 or more seems like an overly severe penalty for his lack of courtesy.

Homeless people stay in the BART stations, too. (SF Gate)
SF Chronicle columnist Debra Saunders says the real problem is about the homeless, who use the trains as shelter: [bold added]
If a simply inconsiderate passenger is taking up an extra seat for a backpack or luggage, another commuter will ask that person to make room. It’s only when the two-seat hog seems hostile, mentally ill or inebriated that others hesitate to inquire. Smell is also a factor.

During the winter months, the homeless can be especially vexing. When you are riding the train to work, it’s irritating to see others taking up space during heavy commute hours in an effort to stay warm and dry. The public pays fares to use BART as a conveyance, not to ride in railcars that double as homeless shelters (for which working stiffs also pay).

Also contributing to the dysfunction: Once you pay the minimum fare, you can ride all day.
The BART police don't have a rule for making people move, hence the seat-hog proposal.

A better course of action might be to address the ride-all-day behavior. For example, there could be an ordinance to make passengers leave the system after a certain amount of time has elapsed. BART police already "audit" the tickets of passengers; why not use ticket scanners to make sure they entered, say, within the past three hours? (Such a three-hour rule can be suspended if there's a train delay.)

A related story -- Study: BART is second-germiest transit system in the US

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