Thursday, June 14, 2012

If Mussolini could do it

Fun and games in the East Bay this morning...

Took Taku to the Ashby BART at 9 this morning.  At 10:15 he phoned to tell me BART was shut down and he had come up to catch the F Bus only to watch the 9:12, the 9:42 and the 10:11 (they only run every half hour) go by without stopping.  With hundreds of thousands of commuters looking for an alternate to BART, the busses filled up at the point of origin.  People like us who live down the line were **** out of luck.

So I got back in the car, went back to the BART station and picked him up and we came home and went online to see about alternate ways of getting into the city.  Almost totally useless.  Probably because everybody and his uncle  are trying to get information from BART and AC Transit.  We finally went to 511, the transit information site, to see what they would suggest.   They informed us BART wasn't running and suggested we "seek alternate transportation."

When it comes to public transportation in this country, we can't expect much.  San Francisco is ranked at #13.

A quick aside: Not only are 16% of the escalators and elevators still out of order - see my blog the other day called Lousy Priorities, and an article on the same topic in today's San Francisco Chronicle - but when I tried to get out of Glen Park Station yesterday, the first three machines at the wicket I swiped my Clipper Ticket on read "Out of Order."   I had sudden visions of having to sleep there.  And last week, after swiping my ticket to get in at Ashby, they suddenly opened all the gates and let folks in free because the ticket machines were out of order and I steamed all the way into the city knowing the people in the train next to me were riding for free and I wasn't.

But back to today's little adventure...  One site said they were putting on extra ferries, but there were no schedules, no indications of how many and when or where.  Taku didn't want to risk driving all the way to Jack London Square just to be stranded there for two hours.  We finally found a schedule.  There's a ferry at 11:00.  (It was now 10:50.)  Next one is at 1:35, gets to the Ferry Building in San Francisco at 2.  That would mean he could be at work by 2:15.  If he skips lunch.

So we decided to try the F bus again.  Back in the car once more (I offered to drive him into the city, but apparently the bridge is clogged from so many other people thinking the same thing) I drove him to North Berkeley, to catch an F bus closer to its starting point.  We got there in time to watch a bus pull out.  They only run one every half hour, and didn't I say that already, and no, there's no sign they're running extra busses.

On the way we spotted an F bus at Haste and Shattuck.  It went right by the bus stop without stopping.

I tried to persuade Taku to recognize that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has determined this is a day he should stay home.

But he's not religious.  He's Japanese, and insists he has to get to work no matter what.

So he's waiting out there at an unshaded bus stop on this hot hot day hoping half hours are occasionally less than thirty minutes.

Maybe if the ferries don't get him there the fairies will, and someone in a pink Cadillac will drive by and see he needs a ride to the City.

One has to think positive.

Why is there a little voice in my head whispering, "Mussolini...Mussolini..." ? 

Update: 1:08 p.m. (four hours from leaving the house for the first time this morning).  Taku just phoned from San Francisco.  He's tired.  He's hungry.  So he's going to find a place to sit down and have lunch.  And then, of course, go to work.

It's not BART's fault there was a fire that forced them to shut down.   Or AC Transit's fault that they can't get a thousand busses on the road at a moment's notice to meet the unexpected demand.  Or San Francisco Bay Ferry's fault that its website crashed from too many people seeking "alternate transportation."

But come on, guys - couldn't you figure out how to work together?

There's got to be a better way to run a railroad.

Second update: 6 p.m.  Taku just called.  BART's up and running.  AC Transit has put on extra busses to account for "residual delays."   They're letting people ride for free.

My eye caught this line in the latest news update, now that all systems are running again:

"Commuters should go to for more information about alternative commute options, officials said."

Third update: 6:51 p.m.  Just read the latest.  Looks like the fire was started by three low-lifes in West Oakland.  Huge financial losses, hundreds of thousands of folks' lives messed up, bloggers messin' with the reputations of BART and AC Transit...

And they didn't even have to have a terrorist license.

Fourth update:  10 p.m. Wonderful home made pesto for dinner tonight.  Going to get indigestion from all this oil, but good while it lasts.  And the dinner conversation?   Taku walked back to Powell St. to catch BART home, to get ahead of the hellish lines he was sure he'd find at Montgomery.  The train was empty.  Apparently most people stayed home in the end.   Looks like they got all those extra seats, finally.  When they were no longer necessary.

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