The Water Cooler – Comparing BART to Other Public Transit

July 9, 2014 12:00 pm · 43 comments

The “Water Cooler” is a feature on where we ask you a question or provide a topic, and you talk about it! The “Water Cooler” will be up Monday-Friday at noon!

Today’s question:

Have you been on any other public transit (locally, throughout the U.S. or the World)? If so, how does it compare to BART? Is it better, worse? The same?

Talk about it….

Can't Say July 9, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Won’t set foot on it and would Never park my car at any station.

William July 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

BART is to other public rail transit systems as a pile of dog sh*t is to filet mignon.

In other words: not very good

Concordejet July 9, 2014 at 12:15 PM

I can answer that question because I am a huge fan of public transit.

New York Subway is great a lot faster and there is an unlimited weekly pass I think there is a monthly passes as well.

Subway and bus in Toronto
pros: easy to get around.
coms: You can get a weekly pass but you always have to buy it on Mondays.

Tube (subway in London is great very easy to get around
Subway in Paris
pros: easy transit to get around
coms it stinks in the summer.

Subway in Madrid Spain is also easy to get around

Subway in Singapore is great. People hardly uses cars because singapore is a small island and cars cost as much as a house to purchases a car.

Subway in Seoul Korea
Pros very efficient way to get around.
Coms: very confusing because there rarely any English signs.

Subway in Hong Kong so orangized it very easy to get around. the way you pay for the fares, you used a prepaid card just like the clipper card except their prepaid card called “Octopus” Not only you use Octopus to pay for fares but you can purchases item at fast food restaurants and convenience stores.

Subway in Tokyo

Pros: good way to get around
Pros: Becareful because if you see a pink logo on the train it mean it for women only the government had made it safer for woman to travel because Japanese guys are so rude. Also the subway lines are so confusing and very easy to get lost.

2 train system in Bangkok Thailand

There is a BTS train which is a sky train easy to get around and a bit expensive

The subway train is an underground train is a lot cheaper and sometime easier to get around than the BTS train if you can find a direct line. Also, you have to go through security at every subway station because they are looking for any type of weapons and protestors too.

Tonic July 9, 2014 at 12:16 PM

I am in Europe as I write this and I can assure you on the European scale Bart ranks very LOW

Antler July 9, 2014 at 12:19 PM

I loved the Underground system in London! And the system linking the Atlanta airport to all parts of the city and beyond is wonderful. It has been a number of years since I rode the bullet train out from Tokyo; it was amazing if you neede express transport (but no application for local stops as is the cas with the other two systems I named.

I plan to go research what sort of system they have in Dubai…..good topic, Mayor!

Subterfuge July 9, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Having been to a few places across Europe, BART is ok. Most of the city trains in Europe such as the London Underground are not climate controlled (at least in the summer) unlike Bart trains. On the other hand, in Europe, the underground gets you just about to every area of the city. Then there are the larger Intercity Express trains (ICE) which take people from city to city across Europe. Those trains are fast and Beautiful. Went from Stuttgart in Germany to Munich in about two hours with speeds topping off at close to two hundred miles per hour between stops while enroute. It was a great experience. I’ve had a descent experience on Bart, but never a great one.

Dorothy July 9, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Tri Delta and MUNI are the only other ones I’ve been on. Tri Delta makes BART look good but MUNI is better than BART – even when crowded.

iscoffy July 9, 2014 at 12:42 PM

In general, most other systems I have used (NY subway, Paris Metro, UK Underground) seem much better for getting people to places that are not necessarily commute destinations, and they run more trains more often.

BigBob July 9, 2014 at 12:44 PM

I would rank BART very low compared to others based on a few criteria:

1) COST – BART is so much more expensive as Portland, NY, Paris, Dallas, Atlanta and others. The high cost results in reduced ridership as the other systems are the primary methods for public transportation in those areas. (I wonder if other transit systems are held hostage by unions too?) A very good example is the latest pricing for the Oakland AirBart. Why spend that much to switch trains and pay an additional ($12/RT)? Pricing themselves right out of the market and will be in crisis mode when budgets come due.

2) Comfort/cleanliness – BART is one of the dirtiest of the systems I’ve ridden on. That being said, I recognize they are in the process of upgrading cars but also know that will impact #1 above.

3) Locations – definately have improved over the 20+ yrs I’ve lived here. I know BART wants to expand, but have the challenge of dealing with sharing the costs with those towns it services and the environmentalists.

4) Unions – get rid of ’em. Driving costs up. Other systems don’t even have drivers. Station attendants are rarely available to assist with a ticket machine that is stuck as they are on a scheduled break. How would you like that if your Doctor or grocery store clerk just stopped to take a break?

BDuns July 9, 2014 at 12:46 PM

Daily Bart rider with experience riding public transit all over Europe.

Bart is junk.

Concordejet July 9, 2014 at 12:48 PM


Yes, BART scale rank is less than zero haha

Bodie July 9, 2014 at 1:02 PM

Bart is old. Just needs major updating. Be thankful it’s there or traffic would be even more snarled. The problem is what it picks up in SF (transients) and transports back and forth.

CalOldBlue July 9, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Just vacationed in London and Paris this Spring, and just dumped my wife off at BART this morning for a trip to SFO.

Both London and Paris trains run MUCH more frequently than BART; at any given time during the day.

Neither, that I am aware of, run “short” trains.

BART, this morning during the height of the commute, was running 8 and 9 car trains out of Concord. People getting on at Concord found full cars.

BART has zero concern for its ridership. Don’t know that they treat people on the other lines better, but it feels like they take pride in forcing as many people as possible into cars on the Pittsburg-Baypoint line.

Bart compared to other world class cities July 9, 2014 at 1:28 PM

Most other countries in the world would grade a “A” or “B” while Bart would be a consistant “F”.

Bart is dirty, smelly, breaks down too often, has some great people working there but more horrible people, who are paid way to much for the services provided. Bart is costly, and from my point of view terribly miss managed.

The mismanagement is more of a California problem. Where else in the world would a major construction project grind to a halt over a snail? And the lemmings of the left cheer.

Silva July 9, 2014 at 1:48 PM

In the London tube stations I have been asked if I dared to ride the subways of NYC. I had to say no. Northern California born & bred I had not. I (silly me) rented a car at JFK once, and entered a paralell universe, where people on the street stared with mouths agape as a side of me I knew nothing about previously, surfaced and I drove everywhere, more agressivly than all the taxi drivers also with mouths agape! I was a travel consultant then, and should have known better, but somehow could not have imagined. I’ve NEVER been anywhere where public transit is as bad as here, EVER. Want to see a better way? Try London or Mexico city. A whole lot bigger and amazingly better for a whole lot less. It’s a dirty shame. DIRTY or perhaps FILTHY is the operative word. The Bathrooms? When they first opened and later when I first rode and had to use it, they said that their restrooms were not for the public. Huh? And the facilitys have not changed since then. Now, I’ve heard they let folks in (I having a bathroom phobia would never ever enter) And don’t even think about parking a car or bicycle there. Unless you are well to do, and not much attached to your belongings.. I’ve been in many international transit systems, and BART is absolutely the worse, and a disgrace to us and to the many tourists who come expecting much better. The foreign people from whom I’ve received feedback, and there have been MANY, are unanimously horrified. This is a world class disgrace, and I’m very ashamed.

Laurie July 9, 2014 at 1:56 PM

BART is the reason why I don’t take public transportation. Ewwww just Ewwww

Elwood July 9, 2014 at 2:02 PM

London Underground vastly superior.

PHILTHYphresh July 9, 2014 at 2:05 PM

The worst thing about BART is the union. Otherwise I rate them 9.5 stars out of 10. All the people complaining of smelly bums, robberies, and other downfalls of BART won’t stand up and say a word on the train, or to the attendants, but poke their heads into their smart phones and get to blogging about it on social media.

Mustang Sally July 9, 2014 at 2:07 PM

BART is my last ultimate resort. I’m normally a great supporter of public transit. I’ll drive the Dumbarton. Richmond/San rafael or San Mateo, in THAT order before I EVER put my baby’s tires on that new bridge we bought ourselves. SHAMEFULL

anon July 9, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Unfortunately, bart is a necessary evil if we want to commute to work and spare the air. It does suck and I have hated it since I rode it 20 some odd years ago. Its dirty, smelly and the station agents get paid way too much to sit on their asses and do nothing other than make it clear that they dont want to help you.
However, with that being said, it is nice to be able to ride to the SFO and Oakland airports and not have to worry about parking or getting a ride.
I also rode bart in June and actually met two station agents who actually wanted to help me. I couldnt beleive it, that is really a first! So maybe things are changing but I still hate bart and will probably always will. Just too many bad experiences.

Commuter July 9, 2014 at 2:59 PM

The NY Subway system is fantastic. WOW….it’s fast, on time and efficient.

BART is ok. Better than Muni and better than nothing. Sad to see so much crime on the system. Makes me not want to ride it anymore. Really don’t like parking my car in the garages. Wish the BART mini-cops would do something worthwhile and be more vigilant about patrolling the parking lots.

Mimi (original) July 9, 2014 at 3:18 PM

I have used the subway in New York and BART here. BART sucks! I only use it in extreme situations, such as I want to go to the City and my car is not working. I’d much rather drive and hassle parking than take BART.

Captain Bebops July 9, 2014 at 3:30 PM

BART in the 1960s sounded like a great idea, very idealistic. By 2000 it had become a failure. It’s way too expensive to maintain and doesn’t service areas that were originally planned.

Olivera July 9, 2014 at 3:46 PM

Bart: NO
Pixieland Express: YES

Concordejet July 9, 2014 at 3:58 PM


I heard about the MARTA train system in Alanta. The MARTA train goes straight from Airport to Downtown Peachtree center where the Westin hotel is. I wanted to ride the bullet train in Japan but I ran out of time and it is expensive to ride the bullet train depending on the model you ride on. they have 3 different type of bullet train.

Dubai is a very modern city from my understanding

GT July 9, 2014 at 4:10 PM

I’ve been on subways in NYC, DC, and Hong Kong, and BART has to be the worst among them. It’s dirty and inefficient compared to the other three cities.

Love the train in HK. If you miss one, no worries, another one will come in 2 minutes. In the more busier stations you have the glass partition that keep people from jumping onto the tracks. If there’s a delay because some idiot’s on the tracks in the outer areas, they’ll announce to you that there is a delay because someone is walking on the tracks and not keep you in the dark. And they had the Octupus card (see post #3) years before the Clipper card was in use here, and you can refill it at any 7/11 over there.

teri July 9, 2014 at 4:12 PM

I prefer BART to the DC Metro. They have lots of delays, sometimes the brakes are rough, and I like our plastic cards better than their paper ones. Except that paper is probably better for the environment.We also have a lot more room for bikes, wheelchairs, etc.

But I have to suggest that BART make their special seating signs bigger, and that they announce the rules every-so-often. I was upset recently to see a very elderly couple standing during a BART ride, while four young, able-bodied riders sat in the special seats.

Concordejet July 9, 2014 at 4:37 PM


Thank you for reminding me the Metro in DC. I really like the Metro in DC They also got a weekly passes too.

People walking on the track in HK??????????? Oh my gosh I did not know that!!!!!!! that is crazy. True about the Octopus card you can refill values at the 7/11 just like the walgreen stores.

I was in HK last year during summer and it was HOT and humid!!!!!!!!!

Pyrrhus July 9, 2014 at 4:40 PM

BART compared to major subway systems in major cities, it sucks. However, look at our mass transit and compare it to LA. Ours is vastly superior. For the most part, the Bay Area is not very dense. The only city that is dense is San Francisco and parts of Oakland. For San Francisco, MUNI is supposed to be the transportation that gets you anywhere.

MUNI needs vast improvement. Overcrowded bus and train lines are just the starter. Major parts of the train lines are above ground and have to stop at every stoplight and stop sign. In some sections stops are every 2 blocks. We need a subway system in San Francisco with more frequent stops and extended hours. I live in San Francisco, and for me to get to some parts of the city it would take me 45mins to an hour to get there because of all the transfers I’d have to do. It would take me 10 to 15 mins to drive.

For those complaining about the smell and dirtiness of BART, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was in the past. The cloth and carpeted cars are becoming fewer in number. Yes, you’ll still have the bums stinking up the place, but show me a mass transportation in the USA that doesn’t have that issue.

Anon July 9, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Metro in DC is much better. Previous commenter stated Metro did not have the plastic card and yes they do if you are a regular commuter on the system. Its called a Clipper card just like ours but you cant use the same one on both systems.

J July 9, 2014 at 6:09 PM

The DC Metro stations are air conditioned, but you really need it there. You can’t pass between cars, so when weirdness erupts on your car you’re stuck. Plastic seats, yuck.

BARTs main intent is to get you into the city so it’s a little unfair to compare it to systems like the Paris metro, better to compare it to the “R” lines, or Rome’s metro which doesn’t go much of anywhere.

I like BART and used to ride it constantly when I worked downtown for many years. I wished it ran more frequently on it’s off commute schedule.

People like to complain about BART, but they complain most when it’s not available, which tells you more. I wish the BART board was made up of appointed transit pros rather than elected quasi-politcos whose expertise is not in transit.

Bart's Wife July 9, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I heard a fellow on BART the other day say that it stands for Broken Again Repaired Tomorrow. It’s a pig they throw lipstick at and call it serviceable public transportation. The biggest problem with comparing it to subway systems in other metro areas is that it isn’t really a subway system. It’s a commuter rail line that goes under ground. That’s a huge difference, when in a place like NYC you can walk to a different station and be on a different line usually within a number of blocks. You can’t do that with BART except for a few stations in San Francisco, and even if you do it’s the same line with the same problem. It’s disgraceful that the Bay Area can’t have something better than cattle-car transit, but really the only thing that isn’t overrated about California is the weather.

Concord July 9, 2014 at 6:32 PM

What did BART Management do to earn 3.7% raises, they sure didn’t give passengers any better or incresed service, loner trains, cleaner stations and, uh, well service. Service hasn’t bee restored to 2008 levels. When do passengers get their 3.7% raise in restored services to the BART system. in 2008 we had trains every 15 minutes all day long and throughout the evevening and we didn’t have all these five-car trains packed to the max. BART management should be ashamed of itself. Pleasant Hill crossover at 48 million not working, 7.8 million dollar error at Dublin Pleasanton station for not coordinating with Cal-Trans on height of overpass requirements, 19 million dollar software error and major delays when trying to implement system at passsenger expense. DUI Dorothy Dugger’s million dollar payout after a year gone from BART; it just goes on and on. Meanwhile East County is stuck with E-BART! The least these crooked City Councils could have done was made BART build the BART system in full all the way out to Brentwood. You expect people to stand on those narrow unsheltered platforms? What a joke! BART is pathetic. And, thank you for your patience while we strand you for the next three hours becuase yet another idiot has committed suicide and BART Management won’t do anything about that either. I would hate to see what would happen if BART was actually attacked by terrorits; there sure doesn’t seem to be anyone securing the tracks. I’ll take Cal-Train over BART any day! I HATE BART; BART and you’re never there!

MrDioji July 9, 2014 at 6:35 PM

I understand that BART is not one of the best systems is the world, but it is an excellent transit system. I love it. Most days you can set your watch to it and trains are frequent. It gets crowded at times, but I always have space to shift a little and breathe freely.

Those who are complaining need to go take the tri-rail in South Florida or some equivalent. It is completely useless. Trains don’t stop anywhere relevant and only run a couple of times an hour and road traffic is worse than the Bay Area as well.

Julio July 9, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Bart would get a better report if their people had better attitudes.

SteveD July 9, 2014 at 7:48 PM

BART was built for the commuter, not for “getting around”. For that, it works very well. When compared to mass transit of other countries it’s a difficult rating.

cf July 9, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Several years ago, took the Canada Line from Canada Place (cruise port) to Vancouver airport. Cheaper than BART, totally automated, and here is the kicker. After we bought our tickets, we walked up to the station and thought, “What are we supposed to do with them? No turnstiles? Found out from the Canadians that it is the honor system.

This rail system was built for use during the Vancouver Olympics.

EdiBirsan July 9, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Grew up in NYC, got my Navigation Merit Badge in the Boy Scouts by riding on the Subway and finding things…age 11. Lived in London for years and travelled the world’s major cities.

The NYC is the best overall real mass transit system in a grid/web design (with a minor exception of parts of Queens) and I would say the London system is close but its ‘tube’ design and variable rates bug me.

BART is designed to bring everyone to SF.
BART is expensive and is a suburban toy train system.

annoyed July 9, 2014 at 10:16 PM

Glad we have Bart but they are a huge unrealized potential. Wish Bart management would read theses comments and be willing to put in the work to rise above mediocrity!

Gladys Kravitz July 10, 2014 at 1:47 AM

I give BART low marks.
Safety is lacking on the platform, on the trains and in the parking lots.
Dirty, sticky and smelly. New seats are a start but they need to be cleaned. I know the homeless/drunks/druggies use BART as a safe and cool napping area. It’s the smell of vomit, pee,poop and body odor that lingers in the air after their departure that makes me gag. It’s so bad it feels like the smell is stuck in my sinuses.
For the rate they charge the elevators should be working, the area clean with fresh cool air and I should be able to safely use the trains and return to my unbroken into car.

The Mamba July 10, 2014 at 11:34 AM

I’ve ridden the subway in Paris, NY and Chicago. BART is at least twice as expensive as any of those other options, and doesn’t even run all night – which politicians would fund if they were serious about keeping drunks off the road. Also, BART doesn’t offer any kind of express service and breaks down much more often.

Silva July 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Oh yes. MARTA! Modeled after BART, yet better. Clean and costs less.

old sage July 10, 2014 at 11:11 PM

Bart is embarrassing as an example of public transportation in the Bay area. Elected board members and management doesn’t seem to comprehend the concept of proper maintenance of either the cars or the stations. Using state of the art public transit concepts is beyond these folks. Oakland airport line is a boondoggle and I don’t see a bright future for Bart. Not pessimistic, just realistic.

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