Why Does BART suck so much?

Look, let's face it, BART sucks. It sucks all around, for everyone. They can't even tell you when you look at the screen 75% of the time when the next damn train is coming on their 1980s alarm-clock style signs. The prices are at a premium but the service is at a miminum.
Everything is done by computer, and those computers know where each train is at all times. Why is it such a secret when the next train is coming, or even the next Richmond, etc, one after that? There's no traffic on the tracks or anything else most of the time to make any difference, time-wise.
Why aren't there more signs? Even outside the station so you know how close the train is? Why can't we have constant signs with train arrival times, instead of having to go through every BART community-service message in the freakin' world to find out? This is 1970s/80s technology, but we are paying prices years ahead of our time.
There are so few BART employees, how can this be a factor in anything, cost-wise? I see -no- police, 1 station agent, and a driver of the train. God forbid an emergency -ever- comes up. Are they all hiding in a back room somewhere? Seems like they got more poeple running a parking lot in Montana.
Please BART, stop ripping us off.

GIVE better child/student discounts (up to and through high school age!)

GIVE like you're actually in a "service" industry (pssst, you are)

REDUCE your ungodly rates!!!!! Who are you kidding here? Poor people got to work ,too. They have to work a whole freakin' hour to pay just for their "public transit" fare? NOT acceptable.
Families (4 people) won't even take your trains because it costs $30+ to go anywhere (get a clue, that's lunch for everyone at McDonalds if they stay home, and some of them have playgrounds AND more employees than you'll ever see anywhere at or on BART)

Dirty trains
Not enough cars in rush hours (8 cars? do you guys save money by eliminating one?)
Loud, obnoxious people (don't worry, no BART police to scare them off anyway)

Allow me to re-iterate, BART sucks!

I forgot to mention that for a lot of people, since BART doesn't go near a -lot- of areas, that it costs -another- X-amount of $ to catch the MUNI or a bus from wherever you get off.

so you want a reduction in fares but and increase in service? with extra signage? and more employees? are you going to start tipping us to pay for the extras?

Maybe someone will eventually get it. Fares and service are not necessarily directly related in a tax-subsidized system. Fares can be low when subsidized; ridership may increase as more can (and should be able to) afford to use BART so the fare reduction may minimally affect income. It probably costs the same to run a train and cars if it's 25% full or when it 50% or more full. To some extent, that is why BART management should be working to increase subsidies rather than milking via fares and other gouges that discourage use of BART. They are shooting themsleves in the foot.

Service is another thing. Over and over some posters are saying that BART employees need to be paid more, but many complaints seem to be that employees just aren't doing what they are being paid to do. Tips for extras? That seems to be the attitude patrons face all too often. Not to say that BART management doesn't have a say in all of this as they certainly do and they have to make good decisions about hiring, allocation of resources, and making the system better.

yesterday is ridiculous. A fire earlier in the day, sign problems all night, Dublin train delayed for over an hour due to a problem with the train.

Jesus, can BART fix it's current system before expanding? Maybe use our parking fees to repair the dying train fleet of cars?

I guess you haven't noticed that BART management has been mismanaging money for years. They seem to always have the wrong priority. It won't get better as long as Margro and Oversier are in charge.

There is a specific forum on this site for suggestions to BART Managment. Oddly enough, there isn't a single entry! Everyone wants to complain, but no one wants to offer constructive criticism to BART Management.

Come on folks. Put up or shut up. Surely one of you has an idea of how BART could be improved.

Well, basically, this is, I think, a board for complaining. While people can make suggestions if they like (and should also do so directly to BART and their BART representative), sometimes discussion of things helps gain an understanding of concerns and issues. Part of the problem with this board is that you get a few too many people who are just plain clueless (and don't know it), those who go off on a tangent rather than sticking to the subject (and don't seem to know it), and those who are just obstructive and/or nasty (and seemingly don't much care).

How about privatization for starters? Once privatized, hire non-union employees that actually have to earn their living like all the rest of us, and can be fired for non performance of duties.

If they privatize, it would be harder to get state funding.

Maybe we could start by cutting your salary. Oops, I forgot how highly intelligent and throughly dedicated you all are.

Dedicated to extorting raises by threatening strikes......

Sure, if I can find one of you actually working at any time of day, i'll tip!

I rode bart for the first time in october. the agent i talked with was very helpful, so i offered her a $20 tip. She took it and didn´t even thank me. Now i am from New York , and it was certianlly a shocker that i didn´t even get recognition for that.

You gave a BART employee a $20 tip? You've got to be kidding. It's no surprise she didn't acknowledge it. These people are not known for their friendly customer service. You better lower your expectations and plan to pay more for it, too. I can't imagine a situation where I would give a $20 tip, or $5 for that matter to any BART employee. Did you give her your phone number, too? Another tip New Yorker, despite what you've heard, Californians are the among the most selfish, lazy, rude, ignorant, narcissistic people on the planet, and BART employees are true representatives of this golden state, so get used to it. Save your money from now on because it won't buy you anything but more of the same.

That what happens in the Peoples Republic o California. The proletariat expects their handouts, then expects you to thanks them for taking it.

I see that the BART employees are back on here trumpeting their entitlement to the status quo. Everybody deserves to be paid a fair wage. I won't dispute that.
But go to any other major city with a municipal rail system, NYC, Atlanta, DC, etc. and the service is much cheaper and more reliable. Don't tell me it can't be done.
It isn't just BART that sucks. It's the same with everything Bay Area. It costs more or takes longer than anywhere else. Gas prices are a prime example. We get charged more than the rest of the country because they know they can.

If you feel so strongly about how awful it is to live here in the SF Bay Area, MOVE.

Yes, you are correct that other systems are cheaper but before you open your mouth look at where their funding comes from? Then speak...... BART DOES NOT get property tax or sales tax, like VTA, NY MTA, LA MTA, MARTA, WMATA, SF Muni aka DPT .........

As I recall, most Bay Area counties with BART service pay an additional 1/2 cent of sales tax. I think there are other assessments that appear as part of the property tax bill. BART also gets Federal, and maybe State, subsidies so get part of these taxes.

Bart gets huge subsidies! I think that 40-50% of Bart's budget is subsidized by taxes. There is a 1/2% sales tax, there is a charge for Bart on my property tax bill, there are publically financed bonds, and other state and federal taxes going to Bart. I can't wait for the employees to go on strike again when they demand more money.

So other systems are subsidized, but also cheaper than Bart.

I can't wait for the employees to go on strike again when they demand more money.

why is that? demand more money, you mean keep up with inflation?

I really wish people would really do some research as to what happens during contract time: the history of our contracts; who breaks the rules (management or the unions) during negotiation; an overall why the system comes down to the last minute as far as whether there will be a contract to vote on, or whether to strike.

Believe it or not, we in the unions do not want to strike, but we're not going to accept a bad deal, either. Do everyone a favor, just try and put yourself in our position, and then managements position. Then the process becomes a bit more clear.

Yes, it is sad that the general public is the pawn of all of this. A strike hurts everyone

It is astounding how often management violates the labor agreements they signed, then the unions take them to arbitration and win. I have never understood why management doesn't just do the right thing in the first place.

Even disabled people had to sue the crap out of BART just to get the elevators working. What kind of heartless organization has to be told by a judge to make it so wheelchairs can get access?

A heartless organization, yes. But we´re both hapily employed by it.

BART receives 3/4 of its half cent sales tax (the rest goes to AC and Muni). BART did not make any attempt to extend its property tax assessment when it expired several years ago. Perhaps in order to be successful with its seismic bond measure instead.

Muni is not now nor has it ever been AKA DPT. Muni is now part of the MTA. Before the passage of Prop E that created the MTA, Muni was governed by the PTC commission. Muni and DPT were completely separate city departments and are now under the MTC umbrella but DPT still has its own department head.

Anything else you'd like to get wrong?

Just so you know, there is a Bart fee on my property tax assessment for fiscal year 2006/2007. It is separate line item that simply says Bart. So, Bart is getting property tax revenue for something. As for sales tax, in Contra Costa, 1/2% goes toward Bart and 1/2% goes to the Contra Costa Transit Authority. In Alameda County, 1/2% goes towards Bart and 1/2% goes towards the Alameda County Transportation Authority. In San Francisco, 1/2% goes towards Bart and 1/2% goes to the SF Transportation Authority.

If you look at Bart's 2006 financials (in millions), operating revenue was $275,124, while operating expenses were $573,187, for a operating loss of $298,063. Non-operating revenues were $232,900.

The report also says, that non-operating revenues increase by $43,841,000 in part due to increased sales tax revenue of $7,826,000, and increases from property tax of $17,652,000. There is more detailed information on the Bart website.

WOW! Excellent information. Thank You. You really took some time to research and I appreciate your efforts. I will take your suggestion and check the website. I'm sure a lot of my questions will be answered.

So BART sucks because management and the union don't get along? This seems to be a stretch from the original subject. Certainly many decisions on how BART operates are basically management's responsibility, but many other comments on this board seem to be about BART employees' failure to do what they are paid to do.

Wow! Nobody made comments that included racial slurs! Bartrage is growing up!

BART has its own half cent sales tax. This sales tax was imposed by the State of Calif in creating the BART district 40 some years ago. You are talking about county transportation half cent sales taxes. They aren't the same thing. BART gets to keep 3/4 of its own sales tax and the other 1/4 goes to AC Transit and Muni.

Perhaps the BART amount that shows on your property tax bill is the cost of financing for the BART seismic bond measure because the property tax is dead as far as I know.

also, cocks.

Bart is NOT expensive. Try driving into San Francisco and then tell me that Bart is expensive. Round trip on BART from Walnut Creek is $9.50 with parking. Drive into the city (even with a car that gets 30 miles per gallon) and you are already over $10.00 just with gas and bridge toll. Parking will add another $20 or so, and don't forget wear and tear on your car. And as far as service goes, the trains on the Pittsburgh/Baypoint lines tend to be on time and are much cleaner than a bus.

And much cleaner than any of the other lines, because BART pays more attention to the Pittsburg/Baypoint lines. Those trains have noticably fewer hobos, crack whores, and decomposing dead people masquerading as BART Police than most of the other lines.

Have to agree with that. Between the gas and the parking BART ain't half bad. Don't forget to factor in wear and tear on your vehicle either--tune-ups and tires add up fast.

Bart is NOT expensive why? because you can't drive to the city alone and park in some high pay lot for cheaper? Puhhhleeeze. Of course, it's cheaper that way. Does that mean it's a fair price? NO! How about the family that takes BART for 4 times your fare? It's cheaper for them and they will park at a lot that is a few blocks from Market, etc. for 6.00 or 7.00.
BART sucks. They suck money out of everywhere and provide very little. They're not even a slave to gasoline so there's no excuse there. What -is-the excuse exactly? Squandering is what I guess, yes, squandering money.

Yes, if you have 4 people in your car it is probably cheaper to drive. for someone commuting alone however, bart is much cheaper than driving. bart is even cheaper than driving by yourself if you didn't have to pay for parking. i think bart is a fair price. if it wasn't fair, there would be no one on the trains. it's simple supply and demand.

BS. Just because it may be less expensive than some other modes of transportation does NOT mean that BART isn't over-priced and too expensive. This is supposed to be public transportation for which we pay high fares and numerous other taxes to support, but is becoming a system that people find hard to afford. They may still use it of necessity, just about like you still buy gasoline for your car because of the lack of real alternatives (if you also can't afford some over-priced hybrid). You could probably manage to not use a car, and thus not pay for over-priced gas, with some difficulty, but the difference is that Bay Area residents pay for BART just about every time they buy something through the additional sales tax (not to mention other taxes that subsidize it) so we might have the reasonable expectation that BART fares and other expenses would not also gouge us to death. Additionally, the concept and purposes of public transportation and the ramifications on cost also need to be considered.

Gouge you to death? Please! If you´re a damn commuter to SF, chances are just over $5 a day aren´t going to gouge you. Let´s be VERY conservative and say that you make $20 an hour. Again, being VERY conservative because I know most of you all make MUCH more. Okay, that established.

$20 (per hour)
8 hours (per day)
= about $130 after taxes
Multiply that by five. Gives us $650 per week
Which gives us $2600 per month.

Let´s subtract rent (although most of you OWN, I´ll give you this one), food, insurance, and supplies (shampoo, etc). Now let´s see what´s left. About $700.

Now, factor in the fact that you probably want some entertainment, pet food, etc. That gives us about $500.

So, what to do with that $500? Well, let´s see. BART costs about $5 per day. There are about 20 work days per month. That´s about $100. Wow! $400 left over.

Since most people I see SQUANDER that money, be it with ciggarettes, Starbucks, pastries that your fat asses will eat and dirty up my trains, or rediculous overages on your cell phones, I don´t want you to complain.

I´ve just given you a VERY simple budget to follow. Hell, I´ve even over estimated many things. So, if you´re working a job with relativly low pay, it still gives you big bucks left over.

Don´t bitch and complain because you failed to plan properly.


You seem to be saying that just because some people can afford to pay, that they should and that the cost, even if high, is acceptable. Obviously, you don't see that many people don't make high wages yet still need to get around, use public transportation, and need it to be affordable. Maybe it would help to re-read what you responded to. Didn't plan properly? You're just making unfounded assumptions.

am saying that there is no free ride, either on bart or in life.

live within your means, don't cheat, and try to better yourself
with either a better job (respect or $$) or a life in which you
do not need to commute via bart.

From Walnut Creek, the fee is 9.5 (with parking). For 20 days that would be $190 a month. If you do this for 12 months, that is $2280 a year. This might be cheaper than driving, but I think it is still somewhat expensive.

and if you're living in WC, you certainly are making enough $$ to pay your mortgage, drive a nice car, work elsewhere to which you ride bart, and can afford the fare.

That´s NOT what I´m saying. I´m saying people should come up with a budget where they can factor it in, thus making it less of a financial burden. BTW, if you didn´t pay with your high fares, you´d be paying with high property taxes. BART needs to get paid for one way or another... so take your pick.


people choose to work in places that require them to commute. no one has a gun to your head forcing you to take a job.

I used to work close to home, but switched jobs and now work in the city. when taking that new job, i made sure that the new salary compensated me for all aspects of the commute - bart fare, decreased time at home with the family, etc. in the end, the new salary made it worth it. if it did not, i would have stayed put. if you don't like to spend money commuting, there is an alternative: find a job close to home.

You may have options, but remember that not everyone does. Because you have options you think everyone does? Some people need to take a job where they can find it and live where they can affford it. These frequently do not coincide. It seems that many people who make comments here do not seem to be able to see past themselves or consider others' circumstances.

Schleprock's picture

Yeah! I agree. People say things without thinking past the rest of us--we work where the job IS. Who is the douche who said "we all have choices"? Not ALL of us.

Please don't be nasty, it's unproductive and just generates more of the same.

To continue this subject for people who just don't seem to get it: BART fares are NOT a matter of adjusting the household budget, or choosing to pay either the fares or higher property taxes, or being able to afford the fares because of where you live, and all of the other nonsense. All of that is irrelevant crap. The fact is that some people find paying BART fares a hardship and others, with varying degrees of capacity for paying these fares, just think they are plain and simple too high. Some do not wish to accept these high fares any more than they would want to accept gas at $5.00 a gallon. Whether we can afford it or not has nothing to do with it. A high price is a high price. Can this be said any more simply?

Last, BART is subsidized by taxes for various reasons and may be viewed as a social project of sorts to help eliminate pollution, get cars off the roads saving wear and tear on the highways and helping so that more highways do not need to be built, allow people to travel around the Bay Area, and so on. To be successful, projects like this have to get people to participate in them and high fares and other fees discourage people from doing this. In fact, many projects like this often operate at a loss in order to serve broader purposes and save money in other areas or preserve what money cannot buy. So people already pay a lot for BART and BART should work to obtain additional subsidies so that the fares can be kept low and thus people will use the system more. Again, this is the simple version which should be easy to understand.

If you are not making enough to afford the approximately $2,000/year that it costs to commute on Bart, maybe you need to find a job closer to home. I know not everyone is in agreement with me, but we all DO have choices. I would love to see the budget of the person who says they cannot afford bart. Assuming they are fairly frugal with their spending across the board (not living in a home/apartment that is beyond their means, never going to starbucks, not driving a flashy car, etc) this means they do not make much money. I would argue (and feel free to call me a douche again if you think it helps make your case) that almost anyone can find a low paying job almost anywhere. if you live in pittsburgh, don't commute to SF for a job that pays $30,000 a year, because after accounting for your reduced commute costs you can make about the same amount flipping burgers in pittsburgh...

apparently it wasn't simple enough.