Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – BART’s ‘Excursion Fare’, Center Medians and Pedestrians + MORE

November 20, 2017 14:00 pm · 16 comments

Traffic Jammin’ with Janis Mara – Every first and third Monday at 2 p.m. on

TRAFFIC JAMMER: Greetings, all! This column is for everyone who negotiates the highways and public transit of the Bay Area. It runs every first and third Monday of the month at 2pm and answers your commuting and transportation questions.

Email your questions to

Commuter: I attended a traffic school years ago, run by a California Highway Patrol officer. Regarding the Crosswalk/Yield to Pedestrian law, he told us that IF the road has a median in the middle (i.e. Clayton Road/Treat Boulevard), you can safely make your turn once the pedestrian has reached the median.


TRAFFIC JAMMER Excellent point, AnonZ! While it is indeed true that drivers must yield to pedestrians “within any marked or … unmarked crosswalk at an intersection,” if there is a median, the driver can go through once the pedestrian gets to the median.

Just as an interesting aside, while drivers must pull over to the right when an ambulance approaches, if the ambulance is approaching from the opposite direction and there’s a median, the driver needn’t pull over. Same idea: The ambulance is not going to hop the median, so no need to make way.

Commuter: Back in 2008, I worked in Oakland, near Jack London Square. A real jerk of a cop once gave me a ticket for failing to yield to a pedestrian who had already crossed halfway across the street, in the crosswalk area of opposite lanes of traffic.

Not only was the ped safely out of my path, but there were also several shrubs, as well as signs attached to the median light pole, that blocked my view of that person (who was walking AWAY from my lane, mind you). Fought the ticket and WON.


TRAFFIC JAMMERMimi (Original) is the Beloved Claycordian who initially brought up this subject awhile back, and she noted that she has never seen anyone get ticketed for failing to yield to a pedestrian who had already crossed halfway across.

In response, the Jammer noted that while law enforcement officers have a legal mandate to write such tickets, they do have discretion. The final power rests with them. The Jammer can’t help but be glad that you, Anon, won your case. There are far more pressing issues in Oakland than this one.

Commuter: What is up with the BART so-called excursion fare? Is it true that if you enter and exit the same station, you get charged $5.20? What a ripoff! 


TRAFFIC JAMMERWell, Annoyed, the Jammer sees your point. The BART excursion fare – which, by the way, is now $5.75, up from the previous $5.20 – is charged if you exit from the same station where you originally entered.

This does seem unfortunate. An analogy might be when you drive into a parking garage, only to realize you can’t park yet. Most parking garages give you at least 15 minutes or so leeway to leave without paying.

Apparently, there are people who enjoy touring the Bay Area without leaving the BART train. According to the BART guide, “Also, BART’s Excursion Fare allows anyone to tour the BART system (all 44 stations) for up to three hours on a $5.75 fare, as long as you enter and exit at the same station.”

Regardless, the Jammer thinks riders should get a little more leeway.

That’s it for this week. Be sure to cruise by at 2pm on the first and third Mondays of the month for more traffic intelligence. Remember, whether you drive, walk, bike or hop Amtrak, BART, County Connection or AC Transit, Traffic Jammer Janis Mara is here to answer your questions.

Send your questions to

dinkydau November 20, 2017 at 2:14 PM

I was going though a road that had two lanes each way and a median in the center. I somehow thought if the pedistrian is not at the median, ready to cross where you are located by the crosswalk and instead on the other side of the road with lanes going the opposite direction, then you can proceed. I was wrong. This was in Castro Valley about 2 or 3 years ago and a CHP opfficer pulled me over. He told me no matter where the pedestrian is, you must stop, period. I told the CHP officer I did not notice the people on the other side of the road. He asked if I are from around there and I said no, its my first time.
He let me go with a warning, thank goodness.

Chicken Little November 20, 2017 at 2:45 PM

Jeff, I hope you’re not talking about Janis.

There is only one California vehicle code, and it says nothing about the pedestrian having to be completely clear of the crosswalk, or past the median, or anything else. It just says drivers must yield to them. All the other stuff is just made up by somebody. Yes, police officers sometimes make stuff up, too. When it comes down to it, a judge will be the final authority.

Silva November 20, 2017 at 2:58 PM

I know people who were ticketed on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, though it is a very wide street with center islands. They had just turned right onto it after a stop and driven through the clear crosswalk, and the pedestrian had just stepped into the intersection on the other side of the street, so there was no possibility of danger to the ped, but the Emeryville Police had little to do in those days.

Silva November 20, 2017 at 3:00 PM

We learned in Driver’s Ed way back when that it was illegal to enter a crosswalk with a pedestrian in it though.

JA November 20, 2017 at 3:22 PM

Anyone who rides BART has witnessed passengers who are using the system as an alternative to a shelter. Without the excursion fare we might see more of this.

Hugh November 20, 2017 at 3:57 PM

People complain about dumb things. Who cares if you entered and exited the same station and got charged. A rip-off compared to what? Taking a few minutes to think about where you’re going before entering the fare gates? Talk about something more interesting like why the heck is the Sunol Grade still the way it is after more than 3 decades of bottleneck.

Dorothy November 20, 2017 at 4:38 PM

I was on 680 last week after the new express lanes opened. Since I didn’t need to use it I stayed in the regular lanes. But I saw a lot of cars go into that lane after the toll sign and move out again before the next one. Does CHP monitor the express lane between toll signs for in and outers?

A few years ago I was in the LA area on I-5 and the express lanes were much better behaved. Imagine LA drivers being better than Bay Area drivers.

Kenji November 20, 2017 at 4:57 PM

If you used a Clipper card and your entry and exit tag are within minutes of each other (i.e. too close for you to have possibly boarded a train and then come back to the same station), you can get a full refund. You will have to wait on on the Clipper customer service phone line, though. 877.878.8883.

Nee' November 20, 2017 at 6:30 PM

Why are traffic signals on Clayton Road and treat so damn long in every direction?

BARTEmployee November 20, 2017 at 7:27 PM

We also wish there was a 15 minute lock out on the excursion fare. The excursion fare is actually used a lot by passengers that are going to pick up something like kids, internet purchases etc. People meet at the gates and hand the kids over to the parent, so the 5.75 is much cheaper then a true round trip. Like someone also mentioned above if there was no fee for in and out at the same station we might have a lot more transients living on our trains. Unfortunately if they have a ticket they can ride and stinking isn’t against the law. 🙁

Frank November 20, 2017 at 8:19 PM

NEE @ #9
Why, of course it is to accommodate all the east county commuters looking to beat the back-up on Kirker Pass/YVR.
Same @ Bailey & Clayton Rd.

AnonZ November 21, 2017 at 5:27 AM

Yes #9, WHY? I’ve posted this question before and I’ll ask again. How does traffic control determine the timing of the signals? My street, Claycord Ave, off Clayton Road, takes FOREVER for a green light to exit onto Clayton Road. Alberta Way onto Clayton Road is another that is ridiculously long, while there are others along Clayton Road and Treat Blvd. that will turn green within seconds for side streets exiting onto Treat or Clayton. Another issue that is frustrating is that when someone approaches Treat Blvd while on San Simeon, the light turns red for Treat while the vehicle on San Simeon is only turning right so there’s no need for an entire signal change. Same with Bancroft turning right onto Treat (heading towards 680), they get an entire green light, just to turn right.

JazzMan November 21, 2017 at 8:47 AM

@AnonZ #13. So true. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a way for a sensor to distinguish between a “right turner” and a “go straight/ left turn” It does seem like a waste of time and ties up traffic on the main drag.

Mimi (original) November 21, 2017 at 9:40 AM

Happy Thanksgiving Week Fellow Claycordians!! Dear Jammer – re: the median’d streets and emergency vehicles – I was once on Clayton Rd. at the Denkinger Ct signal, heading toward Clayton while the westbound (downtown Concord) traffic was bumper to bumper and a fire truck approached facing me and indicated that he wanted to come IN TO MY LANES so we all skootched to the right the best that we could so he could head West-bound in the East-bound lanes. It was freaky to say the least! But I’m sure that when they got to wherever they were going the residents/owners/victims were glad that the firemen were given those few extra seconds to get there in a timely fashion!

Concord Gal November 21, 2017 at 12:48 PM

re Mimi @ #15 – yes, always watch the actions of emergency vehicles to see where they might be headed. Also, If the median has breaks in it for cross traffic, you should pull over even if the emergency vehicle is in the opposite direction because there is a possibility they may need to turn in front of you at the next median break. Also, when there is a firetruck there is often a second emergency vehicle behind it – stay alert!!! watch for more than one. it takes seconds to just pull over and wait for them to pass. Just do it!

Kirkwood November 21, 2017 at 4:08 PM

Longer period light cycles allow more vehicles through an intersection on average, shorter cycles mean waiting while a line of vehicles gets moving when the light turns green. The fewer times the signal stops and starts the traffic each hour, more cars get through the intersection in that hour. And what about the driver who doesn’t realize the light has changed?

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: