BART to the Airport

I don’t use BART to get the airport that often, but when I do it never ceases to amaze me how badly planned it is; was it even planned I wonder, or did it just happen that they ended up at an airport? Firstly, at Lake Merritt where I got on the train there is an up escalator to the street, but not a down one so you have to carry all your luggage down the stairs into the ticket area. Next, there are still no wide barriers to allow people with luggage to pass through easily (they have these at SFO to get on and off there, but apparently it never occurred to them that people might need access with that luggage at the other end of their journey).

Once on the platform, they announce a 4 car train (at peak commute time) for the airport which arrives packed to overflowing. Squeezing onto this without luggage would have been difficult; with luggage made it no fun at all. Onboard there is no place to stow luggage of any kind, letalone suitcases; I guess people are meant to fly without luggage if they plan to use the train to get to the airport.

Finally, to add insult to injury, they then announce that there are delays getting trains into the airport. Lucky I left early (the taxi driver had another job at the same time as my pickup, so he turned up 15 minutes early and I had left plenty of time for delays having used BART before). I don’t know whether the shuttle van would have been better; probably not given that it is commute time.

Stay tuned for postings from my destination… I have my camera with me for this trip πŸ™‚

6 thoughts on “BART to the Airport

  1. I suggest taking BART from 12th St Oakland instead.

    Advantages:

    – 12th St has an up/down elevator and escalator
    – Wide barriers for baggage (basically the entrance for disabled folks)
    – Trains arrive 8 mins apart (unlike 15 mins from Lake Merritt), so you can skip a train if it is chocabloc. I’ve never seen a 4 car train during peak commute on this route.

    Disadvantages:

    – The only problem is that you need to change to an airport bound train somewhere along the route (I usually change at Embarcadero). But this isn’t a problem as most folks get off in the financial district and the train empties out.

  2. While that might be useful information, it is the kind of thinking that allows BART to continue being a poorer service than it should be. If they want to be an airport train service, then they need to invest in making all their stations traveller friendly. I shouldn’t have to use a station that is less convenient for me to get to just so I can get my baggage onto the train more easily.

    This is not rocket science – other places in the world have been doing airport trains for a long time now. Perhaps BART’s management should take a look at them and learn something.

    I didn’t even address the lack of parking (what kind of short-sighted idiot designs a regional train system with limited stations and then forgets that people might actually have to drive from their homes to it?). Nor did I mention the fact that I cannot drive to the BART and park for the duration of my trip, so I am forced to take a taxi. With the taxi cost and the price of the ticket, the shuttle vans are not much more expensive, and with delays like the one I experienced they are probably not much slower either.

  3. There isn’t a big difference (in distance, from Alameda) between Lake Merritt and 12th St Oakland!!!

    BART has its deficiencies. It isn’t as good as it ought to be, but hey, most stations in the Tube don’t have parking either πŸ™‚ btw, BART offers long term parking for $5/day at all east bay stations (except West Oakland). Did you check this out?

    http://bart.gov/guide/parking/overview.asp

  4. The BART does look slightly like a toy train but it does have one advantage over the lumbering eight-care, double-decker, transport-a-thousand-people-at-a-time trains we have in Sydney: it may actually on time. Or at least not on some totally random basis like I’ve become accustomed to here.

    It’s interesting to note that it’s still frequented by the same odd characters (sixth pic down) that you find on trains worldwide πŸ™‚

  5. John,

    I often take BART to and from the city with the Millbrae station as my terminus, and inevitably, I have to transfer to one of those crowded 4-car trains that you wrote about to get down to Millbrae. I guess BART figures there won’t be that many people going past Daly City to SFO/Millbrae, but I’ve found just the opposite as well.

    Tim

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