BART Train Operator reading while operating train near Walnut Creek

July 7, 2011 13:40 pm · 49 comments

Is this BART Train Operator really reading while operating a train near Walnut Creek? The answer is “Yes”, he’s definitely reading something!

Click on the photo above to go to and view the video!

1 Sundown July 7, 2011 at 1:51 PM

Yet you ask if we feel safe riding public transportation.

2 Anon777 July 7, 2011 at 1:55 PM

Aren’t the trains mostly automated anyway?

3 Tim July 7, 2011 at 1:55 PM

This is just an uninformed overreaction. There is nothing really dangerous going on. Here’s why:

1) Unlike other passenger rail systems, BART trains are automated. The operator doesn’t actually drive the train. They can assume manual control in case of an emergency, but then they are limited to 15 MPH or something like that.

2) Even if the operator is in control of the train, the BART system has no grade crossings or areas in which there can be a conflict with surface automobile or truck traffic. That makes it vastly safer than typical passenger rail systems.

Should the driver have been paying attention? Yes. Was anyone’s life or safety in danger? No.

4 Larrabee July 7, 2011 at 1:58 PM

This doesn’t compare to driving a car. There’s no chance of wandering off the rails and hitting a tree, pedestrian, etc. As long as they remember to slow down and stop at the next station, I don’t see this as a major problem.

5 small fry July 7, 2011 at 2:01 PM

If there was an emergency and he had to take control he would not be ready. Of course lives were in danger. This train operator is going against the rules of bart so obviously it is wrong and bart feels it is a danger to the riders.

Stuff falls on the tracks all the time he needs to be paying attention and not be distracted.

6 Train operators do hardly anything July 7, 2011 at 2:05 PM

they are simply there as a concession to the corrupt unions.

7 Tree Farm July 7, 2011 at 2:06 PM

According to BART, operators are allowed to read BART/job related reading materials or “safety signs” while driving. Amazing there are so many eagle eyed people out there who can see that he was clearly reading about Justice Beaver in this months “Tiger Beat”.

8 jtkatec July 7, 2011 at 2:07 PM

My God!!! Technology and all it’s advantages (?). Broadcast over the net and someone may lose their job, at the very least, have it entered into their personnel file.

I just hope that the day I’m walking down the street and some article of clothing comes loose or shifts, someone does not snap a pic with their phone.

Back to the picture….I have to chuckle and be annoyed, but I bet there is much worse going on in those operator compartments than this……. oh, just imagine!!

9 Safety First July 7, 2011 at 2:10 PM

Probably reading the BART safety manual.

10 B-rye July 7, 2011 at 2:29 PM

Umm, nothing wrong with this Mr. Mayor.. As stated above the trains are automated and dont require human control. As far as I know they only open/close the doors

11 Anon July 7, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I’m all for letting them read, just cut their pay and benefits by 50% and hire those who still want the job. There will be plenty. A friend of mine is a BART operator and earns over $120k/year after overtime plus a great benefits package.

I’m sure that there’s plenty of people out there who can do the same job for $40k/year and average benefits, plus they can read on the job since the system is mostly automated.

12 Concord Dave July 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

So that person gets how much in wages and benefits to read the paper? Yeah, raise my taxes.

13 pipe down July 7, 2011 at 3:29 PM

Could be worse, BART police are gunning down patrons for the infraction of being drunk. KCBS is reporting witnesses say the ‘drunk hippie’ wasn’t threatening officers.

Like many people, I’m a daily BART commuter and have been for years, but I don’t feel any safer when I see BART officers anymore.

14 Anon July 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM

Bart and most of Bart’s employees are way overpaid for what they do. Obviously this moron is NOT doing what he is supposed to do. Fire him!!! Why is there not more public outrage over the way Bart and other government employees are paid?? Corruption at the public’s expense……

15 mike mac July 7, 2011 at 3:52 PM

That looks like a map he was reading. Must have been estimating his time to the next location.

16 anon July 7, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Good grief. Who cares. How many people in BART’s history have been harmed by an operator reading a manual or employee newsletter. Isn’t the biggest problem people falling or jumping on the electric rail?

17 burning eyes July 7, 2011 at 4:10 PM

@ jtkatec #8 OH GOD, I hope I’m not around if you are publicly exposed. I’d be forced to claw my own eyes out.

18 paul bauer July 7, 2011 at 4:14 PM

wow how much do they make a year? ????

19 Buck Million July 7, 2011 at 4:18 PM

Regarding the operator, not real interested except to say it appears he was being paid for something he should of been doing away from work. Don’t they have a camera on them like bus drivers do? If not maybe they should.

Regarding the guy being shot by Bart police, did anyone else find it unbelievable after all the publicity of the last guy and all the new training etc etc that another BART cop shoots some one dead that was only armed with a knife and bottle who was stumbling drunk???? I have a quest? Why the hell do they carry tasers? Are they reserved for just the jaywalkers?

20 Buck Million July 7, 2011 at 4:24 PM

One last observation about the operator:

Maybe we should look past the fact that he is reading whatever it is and be more concerned with the fact he isn’t even facing the direction that the train is going.

21 guap July 7, 2011 at 4:25 PM

Totally automated system, get rid of drivers all together and save a boat load of MONEY!!!! We need mechanics not “drivers”. Case in point: A driver was killed awhile back sticking his head out the window, no one noticed and the train continued its route with no problems. There IS NO REASON to have someone sitting up there. They can also be retrofitted with radar or something similar to slow the train in the event something/someone is in on the tracks.

22 Buck Million July 7, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Regarding my last comment, ummmmmmmm nevermind. The article explained this.

“n the video, it appears the train is moving in reverse, but that’s not the case. You’re seeing a reflection from behind the person with a camera. If you look towards the left, you can actually see the train is moving forward, and the person in the video is definitely at the controls.

23 Skyscraper July 7, 2011 at 4:27 PM

As #3 stated, the BART trains are automatically controlled. The operator is there only to make announcements and for manual override when needed. The original system was designed to be “operator-less”. Their attention is not critical to train operation. The operator was only put on there to give the passengers a stronger sense of confidence with the system. And yes, they are highly paid for sitting on the behinds, but great to have in the cab when they are needed.

24 ANON July 7, 2011 at 4:43 PM

“This is just an uninformed overreaction.”
You are an idiot — it is aaginst the rules for a reason

“A friend of mine is a BART operator and earns over $120k/year after overtime plus a great benefits package.”

What a JOKE…….

25 anon July 7, 2011 at 4:43 PM

My job is in Jeopardy everyday because I drive a “How am I driving” vehicle with a phone number, yet the amount of asinine things I witness on a daily basis you wouldn’t believe.
I know what’s coming, camera equipped vehicles. How much footage can you fit onto a 1 terabyte hard drive?

26 Connie Dobbs July 7, 2011 at 5:03 PM

“I just hope that the day I’m walking down the street and some article of clothing comes loose or shifts, someone does not snap a pic with their phone. ”

I know you! You’re the… er, individual, who wears the polyester doubleknit costumes you sew yourself into. My fave is the lavender number with the gold pleather fringe. You wear a wig and a toupee, for some reason. You shop at used book stores for esoteric judaica, and when they call to say your books are in, they’re supposed to hang up if your mom answers. You’re the bravest woman I ever saw.

27 Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 5:04 PM

To Poster #13.

One of the Bart police officers was stabbed by the suspect. The suspect was using a knife to stab at the officers.

If the suspect had stabbed someone in the throat, that person could have been dead in a matter of seconds.

Police officers have a tough job. They have to decide life and death situations in only a short period of time. What if the crazed man with the knife had slit the throat of a nearby child? Would you then blame the police for the actions of the crazed man with a knife?

You should be afraid of the Bart passengers. There are many passengers on Bart that are carrying knives, guns, dirty needles, and other weapons. There are gang members, robbers, drug user, thieves, etc. that ride the trains everyday as well as drug addicts. There have been dirty needles found on Bart train seats.

If you hate the police so much, then don’t call 911 when someone with a gun robs you.

28 Bobby Sands July 7, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Sometime folks will figure out that having a BART operator on every train is a waste of money.

29 @ Buck Million July 7, 2011 at 6:02 PM

According to your observation, take a close look at the window that the operator looks out, the trees are passing going away from the train, this is not a reverse illusion. The reflection of the car passing the train looks even more suspicious. I dont know, I think your first observation is correct.

30 Funny Man July 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM

Question: Would this be a problem if he was reading on his iPad?! :D

31 Decline July 7, 2011 at 7:10 PM

As stated several times above, because they’re primarily automated, not a big concern for me. Probably not what he should be doing but the really ironic and disturbing thing is the money they make. In general, I’m all for “get what you can”, if the market will bare it. However, it doesn’t seem that long ago that there was a strike or threat of a strike for more money/benefits. Then BART claims to be losing money hand over fist and they need to raise rates and cut services! Who knows what management is doing with the money or what they’re doing when they should be working!

It does seem a little corrupt

32 Al Nonymous July 7, 2011 at 8:51 PM

Looks like an operator sitting in the cab of the rear car reading. The reflection isn’t relevant, you can see the landscape out the cab window.
It’s common to see BART personnel in the rear cab, and if that the case in this video, then there’s nothing improper or dangerous.
IF IT’S NOT THE CASE, it still doesn’t matter. I don’t know what those people do up front when the train’s moving, but they sure ain’t driving it. 31 years riding the Bay Area Roaring Tortise darn near every day, and I’ve made it To and From every time.

33 Yep July 7, 2011 at 8:52 PM

Yep, Most Bart Train Operators do make a six figure salary. So do AC transit bus drivers and Muni bus drivers. Welcome to The Bay Area, a socialist utopia…
Incase you think this is BS Look up the salaries at:

34 buck-tooth July 7, 2011 at 9:13 PM

The ironic part about some of you “posers” is that you posted a comment while on someone else’s dime. And here you are passing judgment about this cat not doing his/her job. What a bunch of phonies..

35 Ancient Mariner July 7, 2011 at 9:48 PM

I once was taking BART north from Fremont and had gone one or two stops. Between stations, the train stopped, the driver came into the passenger area and picked up a newspaper from a seat. Then he used his key to open one of the passenger doors and jumped down to the tracks and walked forward along the tracks. A little later he returned holding a huge piece of a coupling that had fallen off a previous train. He was using the newspaper to hold the dirty, greasy coupling. He loaded it in, hopped up and took it into the driver’s compartment, then restarted the train and off we went.
Also, I know of a visually-handicapped gentleman who tap-tap-tapped his way off the MacArthur platform and fell onto the track. (He’s the reason for the yellow tactile strips along the edge of the platforms today).
Even though the trains are automated, it’s the unexpected situations like these that show how necessary the drivers are.

36 July 8, 2011 at 12:16 AM

The train is going forward.

37 Buck Million July 8, 2011 at 3:12 AM

@Anonymous #27,
“One of the Bart police officers was stabbed by the suspect. The suspect was using a knife to stab at the officers.”

The article said “One of the officers suffered minor cuts in the confrontation, Hartwig said.”
Doesn’t sound like he was stabbed.

“If the suspect had stabbed someone in the throat, that person could have been dead in a matter of seconds.”

And if that had happened I say shoot him before he kills again. That did not happen. 2 Officers responded to a man that was drunk and “wobbly” yielding a knife. I don’t know what took place when they arrived. But on the face of it one would think 2 cops vs 1 drunk with a knife should have been able to diffuse the situation without shooting him dead. I always give the cops the benefit of the doubt until we hear the whole story but until then, I find it rather suspicious, especially after the fallout of their last mishap. I hope for BART’s sake it was handled correctly. My question is why not tase him? We’ll just have to wait and see.

“Police officers have a tough job. They have to decide life and death situations in only a short period of time. What if the crazed man with the knife had slit the throat of a nearby child? Would you then blame the police for the actions of the crazed man with a knife?”

I’m not sure why you replay this as some mass murderer. Your what-if’s don’t come close to to what the situation was. It was 1 wobbly drunk guy with a knife. I mean, what-if the cops bullet ricocheted and killed a nearby child? None of that matters. I know cops have a hard job. I have the utmost respect for them. I hope the investigation backs up their actions but until then there are questions that haven’t been answered. That’s all.

38 mtzman July 8, 2011 at 7:28 AM

Whether something is moving forwards or backwards depends upon the orientation of the viewer towards the object. I would say the train is moving forward (towards the right side of the screen) but clearly the person is in the back of the train (moving backwards in relation to him) and not operating it. Much ado about absolutely nothing …

39 foonman July 8, 2011 at 9:21 AM

Wouldnt “tasers only no guns” work for Bart officers? Is it worth a try? Or has the public endangerment reached beyond that point? I dont know but its just a thought…………………….

40 N. Jineer July 8, 2011 at 9:33 AM

There was a shriek of vented steam as the train began climbing to a higher grade. Chester grabbed hold as he made his way to the caboose.
When he found her, Nancy was manipulating a deck of the cards that Antonio had used in his magic act. Chester was about to turn back, but seeing Nancy out on the platform with all the sparks flying from the back of the train made his mind flash back again to the night of the Walnut festival, the night that she was so happy, the night she fell in love with Antonio………..

Sorry, I just can’t put it down!

41 RanchgirlCA July 8, 2011 at 9:58 AM

You don’t even want to know what I’ve heard about BART train operators and what they do while on the job. I think we’re lucky the trains are as automated as they are.

42 Goat Head July 8, 2011 at 10:19 AM

They make close to $100K with social security paid plus a capers retirement; for all of that they should be willing to endure a little boredom.

43 anon July 8, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Operator reading while train is automated? Perfect proof that we really don’t need to subsidize the cost of BART train operators any longer! Perfect remedy to the budget shortfalls – cancel all the BART drivers!

44 Tree Farm July 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM

@Buck Million-
So you are saying that the drunk should have been allowed to stab/kill someone before he was shot? “And if that had happened I say shoot him before he kills again.” Police officers now need to wait until someone is stabbed to shoot a knife wielding lunatic? Great logic. Do me a quick favor and google “Tueller Drill” and watch a few videos. Those of us in law enforcement understand clearly from our training that a person with a knife, that is within 21 feet of you, is a clear and present danger to our lives. Deadly force is authorized. If someone pulls a knife, we pull a gun. Plain and simple. These officers will be cleared of any wrong doing.

This is the sixth shooting in the history of BART’s existence. Sixth in over 40 years! How many billions of passengers have traveled BART in forty years and there has only been six officer involved shootings? You feel unsafe from BART police officers now? Go ahead, stay off BART. One less person crowding me.

45 anon July 8, 2011 at 11:14 AM

This is really, really stupid of the driver. What a stupid thing to do. Guess he/she doesn’t really appreciate his/her job.

46 anonnnn July 8, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Mayor yes the train is moving forward but the operator is clearly facing backwards in a rear train. I’m surprised you would post this without acknowledging this or looking more closely. What happened to the california blog? And now there is a bay area blog?

47 Johnny B July 9, 2011 at 5:44 AM


No, YOU’RE the stupid one here- Really, Really Stupid you are. You are missing the blatant facts- THE TRAIN IS GOING BACKWARD, THE OPERATOR IS NO WAY IN CONTROL OF THE TRAIN AND NO LIVES ARE AT ANY RISK. This is simply an innocent man trying to make a living to feed children and is most likely riding to and from a work location and may NOT EVEN BE ON THE CLOCK and you are sitting here exploiting him and passing judgement, slandering him and potentially causing disciplinary action or other sanctions to be imposed against him from management, when in fact he did NOTHING WRONG HERE. This is another case that is much ado about NOTHING. You are another uninformed citizen that is doing something VERY damaging to this man’s image, his career, and BART’s image. For what? To debut your moronic ideologies? You are selfish and ignorant. Keep quiet and keep your nose out of people’s business and don’t comment on something unless you HAVE THE FACTS STRAIGHT. Should we snap a picture of you on your break and post it on web and slander you too? Idiot.

48 palermo July 9, 2011 at 8:37 AM

I rode BART to work for over 25 years but not since I retired in 2005. Last week I had out of town company so we rode BART to SF and when I got off my legs were itchy. That night when I got home I found I was COVERED in what looks like flea bites. BART is an abomination, why can’t they keep it clean. And why can’t they open the rest rooms again, ever since 9/11 they have been locked up. It’s inhumane to treat the riders this way. A reading “driver” is the least of their problems.

49 Dizzee July 9, 2011 at 6:15 PM

For all who are reading this that operator was dead heading and was not in control of the train that was actually a dead car, the media is always trying to portray operators as slackers and that we are not safety conscious or sensitive the riders safety and lives are our MAIN concern always

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