BART Sucks -10 Reasons You Hate It

B.A.R.T. stands for Bay Area Rapid Transit, in case you did not know.
While writing this article I realized I am way more upset at BART than I knew so I’ll start there.
As someone who rides BART every day Monday through Friday I must say I am getting very fed up with the poor public transportation system.

mission bart sucks

BART is overpriced!
For one, it’s way over priced. It seems like BART is increasing the fares every single year.
To go from 12th ST BART City Center Oakland to Civic Center BART in San Francisco and back it is costing me $6.30 a day. That’s $31.50 a week or $126 a month!
If I’m going to pay that much I expect seats I can at least sit on, trains that are going to be on time and a ride to work that doesn’t require me being delayed under the Transbay Tube for up to 30 minutes at a time.

Strike? BART Employees are overpaid!
BART has gone on strike and threatens to strike again even though they have a reported $125 million dollar operating surplus.
The employees who get paid very good for sitting in a box all day think that they should get paid more.
I think BART should lower the fares and do something about overcrowded trains.

The unions contend BART has a $125 million operating surplus, and that their members deserve some of it for increased ridership and high service reliability rates.
Employees want a 5 percent annual raise over the next three years. Train operators and station agents are currently paid in the low $60,000 range, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Employees average $16,590 in overtime pay.

It seems to me they are making a LOT more on overtime and these guys are balling out of control for doing nothing.
train operator salaries

$75,000 plus? What exactly DOES a station agent do? As far as I know they talk all day, read, and adjust a fare from time to time.
Train operators? It’s all automatic. They stick their head out, make sure no one is in the door and press the button to close it.
If I’m wrong someone please correct me so I can understand why they deserve $75,000 a year for doing nothing.

BART is dirty!
About that, the trains are disgusting. I would never sit on those seats because I see some of the dirtiest people on earth sitting on them. I have even seen a guy piss and or crap himself on the seat, get up, leave a wet spot and someone else a few stops later unknowingly sit in that seat. You just have no idea who was there before you. If you’re wondering why I didn’t say anything it’s because I wasn’t near enough and there were about 10 people in the vicinity that could have said something. As we all know, people don’t talk to each other on BART, even to help one another out. Oh well, just watch your BART seats!
This study here shows that incurable bacterias have been found on the seats!
Sure one can say BART is trying to replace the seats with the new vinyl like material for easier cleaning. But how often are those even cleaned?
Just don’t sit on BART.

BART is overcrowded!
I couldn’t sit if I wanted to anyways. My trains are so crowded in the morning that it is shoulder to shoulder standing room only. These trains are so over packed it’s ridiculous and uncomfortable. People smell, sick people spreading SARS everywhere and of course the jerk or two who snuck their bike on the car and took up 4 or 5 spaces worth of standing room.
Don’t get me wrong, I wish I could bring my bike on BART but until BART accommodates to us and makes a bike only car in back it is rude for just YOU to break the rules while I suffer.

When leaving San Francisco in the evening, it’s a madhouse. People line up in front of the yellow lines waiting for the next train to arrive, but when it does not all of them are getting on that train so they sort of just stand there in your way. It’s rather annoying, I get structure and needing to get on and off fast, but blocking others doesn’t help and when there are 4 possible trains that can come through the station at any given time, it doesn’t work to well. These people are just lining up to try and get on first so they can sit down and play Candy Crush or play some game on their laptop.

And even worse, when getting off the train in the morning and trying to get up the escalator, there are a ton of people who just don’t understand escalator etiquette. If you are standing still like a fat lazy American, you must stay to the right. Do not block the left side! People like me want to not only walk up these escalators, but double step while running! Get me out of here, I gotta get to work, I’m already running late and a Starbucks triple espresso is a must.

BART hates bikes!
BART can easily fix this. If they gutted the last car of every train so that it was seatless and just had a bunch of bike hooks, racks, nothing, whatever, we could all ride our bikes to BART and to the office. But now a lot of us are forced to take buses to BART stations and leave our metal horses at home. Get on it noobs. Simple fix, you’re way behind the times.
How can you promote public transportation, saving the environment and all that but then seem so against bikes, the best form of green transportation.

BART loves cars!
Because of the bike problem, you are encouraged to bus or even drive your car to the station and find and pay for parking. Yes, that’s right, pay for parking, just another fee.
Most of these stations you have to get there at the crack of dawn to even find a parking spot. But if you do, you pay the parking fee and then leave your car all day. There have been many car break in and thefts in BART parking lots. I myself had my car broken into, in broad daylight at the MacArthur Station. I had only left it there from about noon til 2pm. The whole ordeal cost me a lot of money. BART Police may just very well be worthless.

BART delay, every day?

You can check current BART delays here.
So now here we are shoulder to shoulder from the East Bay to San Francisco after leaving our bike at home and over paying for a ride, the train stops in the Transbay Tube! Almost every morning it seems and sometimes it’s only 5 to 10 minutes while other times it’s up to a half hour or more delay. Now a days it’s becoming even more common to be stuck in a delay for over an hour.

It’s like there is always a “medical emergency” at Embarcadero, an “equipment failure” or “a few trains ahead of us”. Most of the time you don’t even know why you’re stopped because you can’t hear a word of what the conductor is saying over busted speakers or they are too loud and distorted or they just don’t say anything at all. It’s very rare that you can hear and understand the announcement and when it is there is little to no helpful information given. If there is one thing they are not, it’s clear and transparent.
You keep cramping me under water there talking about medical emergencies and I’m gonna have a panic attack and you’ll be dealing with me next! Not really. But come on get it together.
I hear you have medics on stand by at Embarcadero or at least I read this. Somehow this has to be more efficient.
Maybe they should be down on the platform waiting and you can get said person off the train in a matter of seconds and keep trains running on schedule. I don’t know why this always takes so long.

BART trains are so loud!
Speaking of the Transbay Tube and all, why are BART trains so loud? Is it possible that we have the loudest most deafening public transit in the country?
They are loud because of imperfections in the track and they do have rail grinding machines but hesitate to do this often cause it causes them to have to replace the tracks more often. I say, because we pay such high BART fares, our ears should be the bigger priority and they should work on reducing the noise levels as much as possible.
In the TransBay Tube the noise can reach over 100 decibels according to studies done by BART.
They claim that the trains average a noise level of 70 to 90 decibels, which can indeed cause hearing loss at sustained levels. I feel as if my hearing has suffered directly as a consequence of using BART to get to work. If there is ever any sort of class action lawsuit, I would like in because of my hearing loss from BART.

Living next to a BART track does indeed bother a lot of people but many are used to the noise levels. I myself, no matter where I have lived in Oakland could hear the trains. Even when I was a mile away from the Fruitvale Station down 35th. I’ll admit, I sort of like it and at my last place on East 14th and 6th I could hear the trains often, it wasn’t loud enough to bother me.

BART is behind the times!
I understand another thing is boarding time. And I hear we’re lucky enough to get new 3 door cars in 5 years for a faster more efficient boarding procedure but come on. Why did that take so long and why do we still have to wait this long? It seems like this would speed things up a little but also something you shouldn’t have slept on.
You say your budget is so slim but with the amount of money you are charging 370,000 plus weekday passengers, I can’t imagine how there would be a budget problem. Where is this money going? How much do you pay that guy that says please stand clear of the doors again?

BART is a homeless shelter?
Exiting BART, the relief of not being crowded and stuck underground. That moment when you know it is no longer possible to die in an earthquake under the Bay. What could ruin that feeling of freedom?
I’ll tell you what! I get off at Civic Center and I have to deal with the accordion playing dog guy(who’s not that bad), the whining cowboy with his terrible voice(WHY?) and then a homeless encampment. Every morning! The foul stench off piss and crap all down the hall in the BART station.
The escalators are almost always out of service because you let these guys live down there and they urinate and poop in them! I am constantly stepping over streams of pee.
You recently removed the garbage can, which is good because I have seen people pissing on it many times.
Maybe if you didn’t shut down all the bathrooms underground this wouldn’t be as bad?
You know me, the paying commuter has to use the bathroom too! I know you say it’s to prevent terrorism but what terrorist needs a bathroom to blow themselves up? You’re ridiculous.
So what else are you going to do to stop this? Why do you let these people sleep in there, beg me for money every single morning and use the bathroom on the floor of my public transportation system that I pay so much for?

BART is a Corporate Tax Shelter!
So I do not fully understand this concept but here is my attempt at explaining it as short and simple as possible.
BART takes part in Lease-In Lease-Out agreements(aka LILO’s) where BART leases it’s own trains and service equipment to corporations like General Electric and then immediately leases the same exact equipment back from General Electric costing the tax payers money and shielding General Electric from paying Federal Taxes.
So the physical inventory never leaves BART’s hands and they shuffle paper and money around back and forth to game the system. Apparently the IRS is trying to put a stop to this. I think that is how it works but please do read the full article that goes into depth.
BART Corporate Tax Shelter.

BART is a death trap!
Maybe a little bit? Not really? Actually, it’s bound to happen.
I want to talk about recent safety on BART. There has been a train fire(thankfully at a station), multiple deaths, brake failures, various breakdowns, system failures and more lately. BART blamed the equipment failures on aging systems such as 40 year old cars and what not. The problem here is everyone is so overpaid that none of our ridership money is going towards the immediate upgrades needed.
BART needs to prioritize, make massive pay cuts on the management side and some pretty big pay cuts on the train operator and station agent side.
The only employees at BART that actually deserve a good salary are the mechanics, maintenance, system engineers and so on who actually have trade skills specifically geared towards keeping BART running safe and at full capacity.
The people who clean the trains deserve more than the agents and operators if you ask me. However based on how damn gross the BART cars are, I would say they haven’t hired anyone to clean the trains yet.

Do I even like BART?
Ok, so you know why I hate BART and now I’m just frustrated because I’ll be walking down into Civic Center soon to go back to Oakland. I can’t even think of reasons I like it anymore other than it gets me from A to B.

The system is so old and out of date that you can’t even run trains 24 hours on weekends. What good is BART from SF to Oakland if I have to run to a station at midnight like Cinderella?

TURN OF THE DAMN HEATER! It’s 80 degrees out and this car is hot and stanky!

Facts about BART:
104 total miles of track expanding 4 counties.
44 stations total with 16 on the surface at ground level, 13 elevated above the ground and 15 underground subway stations.
669 BART cars total running at a max of 80mph and an average of 33mph.
300 ticket machines, 579 entry fare gates, and 168 add fare machines inside of stations.
As 2013 BART has about 400,000 weekday passengers(per day).
Construction began June 19th, 1964.
The Transbay Tube is 135 feet beneath the surface at it’s deepest point.

12th st bart oakland

coliseum bart station

west oakland bart sunset

macarthur bart station

richmond bart station mural

12th st bart

city center bart

BART Construction: “Along the Way” 1968
This is an awesome video about the BART system being constructed in 1968.

BART, the next 40 years and the 16 billion dollar problem.
Why should we pay so dearly when they have 400,000 of us a day paying on average $6 each day? Where is that money going? 2.4 million a day?

BART Dance Performer

One good thing about BART is the random performers instead of the beggars. But the beggars are still there.
I change my mind, this is no longer a good thing because it has become way too frequent and is an invasion of our commute.
It was cute the first few times but you beggars have to understand we just got done with a very long day of work and many of us are listening to our own music, reading books, the news, working on our laptops, etc etc.
You get on the car with your loud crappy boombox and assault our commute with the same stuff every day and then ask for money.
Go do that outside of the station where we have the option of just walking by and ignoring you if we please.
Do not get in our face and force it upon us where we have no choice.

One possible solution to this is for BART to have an “entertainment car” where people can perform, BART could sell food, drinks and more. This car would of course be a very busy popular attraction and many problems could arise from it, but it would raise money and keep the beggars out of my face unless I choose to visit that car. Which I would for drinks!

Oh, and Silent Disco. Pretty cool.


  1. Sara G says

    I agree with every single on of your points. There are a bunch of SHXX heads who take BART but most people (Monday – Friday) are boring commuters like me. The one thing about BART I love is that I get to read for an hour and a half each work day. The cost of said reading, however, is getting out of control.
    Oh and $70,000 a year with out even having completed General Education at DVC? Pretty disgusting, if you ask me.

  2. pascal says

    Overall BART does an okay job.

    I just wish they had some bullet trains, or made the trains faster. Currently, I have to spend 46 min on the train! from Dublin to Montgomery and so do most other people. It’s a really popular ride from Dublin to Montgomery – more than enough to warrant a bullet train.

    Also, the noise really should be reduced. It’s so loud I can’t hear my music at all. And I think my hearing is in danger.

  3. Barbara says

    I have been a BART train operator for almost twenty years! Automatic is not the only way these trains run! Manual mode is used quite often! I speak very clearly, but nowadays many patrons are absorbed with their smart phones and don’t pay attention to anything! Push buttons is all I do?…not at all! I have been assaulted, put out fires, handled many emergencies, stopped possible derailments from occurring, interacted with people you don’t want to look at, and had the disgruntled public blame me for everything wrong in their life! I make the same amount of money I made three years ago, because BART management takes my “extra” money to cover health and my pension now! I don’t work overtime! So to all you complainers, try to look at the true picture before you speak! The smiling Board of Directors should be who you contact first!

  4. Harold says

    I’m pretty sure the lady who passed out and fell into the track way last week appreciates the overpaid Train Operator who was paying attention and managed to stop the “automated” train from ending her life.

    I’m also pretty sure that the kid, who was shot outside of Hayward BART, appreciated that overpaid Station Agent (who just sits in the booth) when he put himself in harm’s way to save that kid’s life.

    I’m also pretty sure the lady who lost her kid on the train, courtesy of some of the most insensitive people of all time as they rushed the train and wouldn’t let her off, trapping her kid on board while the train doors closed, appreciated the station agent that was in the booth doing nothing, just so happened to get the train operator to stop so we can get the kid to his mom.

  5. BART Commuter says

    The base pay is not whats listed they like to include benefits etc in the pay grade. The people that make 75 plus a year are working tons of overtime. This overtime is happening because they don’t hire enough people. If the Train Operators and Station agents didn’t work the Overtime then their would be more delays and problems.

    As far as the nasty trains and homeless. We live in the Liberal Bay Area. BART has tried for years to get rid of them. The problem is many of the areas BART runs have protections for the homeless. All they need to get on the train is 1.85 ticket. There’s nothing that any BART employee can do.

    As far as the broken train cars, nasty stations etc. This is something that you can only blame on the Board of directors. They take these budgets and spend them on things like the little tram to the Oakland airport. It worked fine the way it was. Do you know how many new trains and cleaning employees they could of hired with half a billion bucks they spent on it. The board cut the cleaning staff almost in half from what it used to be. Now they have one person cleaning 3-4 stations. They used to have 1 or 2. There’s no way you can keep those huge stations clean with one person doing that many.

    The employee pay does not change whats spent on new cars or maintenance. That’s a totally different budget and can’t be used or interchanged. Since funding come from so many places the funding is for specific things. The BART board would love to have you believe that it’s the employees making things bad. Actually it’s the huge contracts to build trams to the airport and new stations that they give to friends and relatives. Heard of kick backs? but people just keep electing the same people.

    I ride BART everyday and actually go to the BART board meetings as I wish more people did. I do not work for BART. The more I see how this board runs things the more I get involved. I know there’s some Bad BART employees out there but there’s also some great ones. I for one wouldn’t want a train of 800 people coming screaming at me when a train goes out of service for more maintenance neglected and there’s nothing they can do.

    Try to be put the blame where its deserved at the Board of Directors. Even though the media makes it like the greedy BART employees are doing it all. come to a Board meeting and see whats really going on.

  6. Robert says

    I ride fart I mean BART everyday. I contend with the overcrowding of the trains, the piss and poop on the seats… the damn homeless begging for $$$ all the time ….. It’s what we have unfortunately but maybe people above should be listened to. Get all the damn homeless out of the stations, open up these closed and abandoned warehouses so they can go to. Clean up the damn trains and re open the bathrooms. Also, the Powell street escalator on the south east side of market and 4th, was open for 2 hours Monday then closed because of poop again. Get rid of the homeless out of there. Seriously, if at least that happens BART could be better. Also, putting on 8 trains to go from Powell and Montgomery to San Bruno??? Bart, get 10 cars per train through the commute and get over yourselves.

  7. Ricky says

    I concur with all the points made here (with the possible exception of the tax break which I know nothing about). My additional pet peeve: Why on earth does Bart insist on using an 8-car train out of San Francisco to the East Bay during the evening commute when there are clearly more passengers than can be handled … I sometimes have to “go upstream” to an earlier station just so I can get on board a Dublin train at 6:00 p.m., and forget about actually finding a place to sit. Throw on a few extra cars for Pete’s sake!

  8. Djddl says

    This morning Bart is handing out surveys on the train about feedback. This is likely a union ploy to extract more money for overpaid employees.
    This happens to be one of the emptier trains early in the morning during spring break.
    Instead of handing out surveys on Bart, they should be cleaning up the urine all over the West Oakland station.
    Delays and broken escalators! Welcome to Bart.

  9. RunKimJong says

    It seems that everything has gone downhill after the last strike.

    I don’t know who makes the decisions on holding up trains for medical emergencies daily or the police activity every other day, but if I had a medical emergency during rush hour, I would want you to take me off of the train at the next stop and keep it moving.

    And the whole trying to be ‘civil’ and waiting in line to get on the train it’s stupid, since 1) as you mentioned people in front of you get in your way 2) the lines are so long during rush hour that it extends to the opposite platform and the idiots waiting in line don’t clear way for you to get past, meaning you have to walk on the yellow platforms to get by anyone.

    I would add the VIPs of BART, the ones who clog up the doorways and block the entrances/exits as if nobody else needs to get by, I’m sorry if I elbowed you in your face, you shouldn’t be blocking people.

  10. dfresh says

    Right on for the most part… Totally agree that we need be like New York City subway, not Washington DC metro, 2 bucks a ride from one end to the other, all seats hard and sideways & clean with room for performers… Definitely need a bike car, all seats ripped out. Performer car too also with few seats & performers can come & play?? Love the silent disco thing, but out loud would even be nicer, I think… Thanks for putting the word out…

  11. sam says

    You left out number 11 which is about number 2 on my list. Why do these cars make so much noise?! Going under the tube, I have to hold my ears. The screeching is deafening. NYC subway is what maybe 70 years older, and they got it right. Fast, cheap, express trains, 24 hours, etc.

  12. Kristine says

    You’re right about almost everything in this piece. And I have the exact same thoughts when I’m stuck in the tunnel (during about half of my trips into the city). Only thing you should check your facts on is salary. Your figure likely represents total compensation including benefits – not annual salary or take home salary. So workers are not exactly rolling in dough. Plus, the cost of living here in the bay is so high that even $50K is sad for a longtime worker. As for hiring teens to drive trains, that’s not who I’d like in charge of things got real in the TransBay Tunnel.

  13. Todd Smith says

    Oakland Mofo – you nailed it – every point regarding the crappy service of BART was spot on. The heater cranked is what really throws me over the edge – trapped on a car because of a medical emergency for a half hour on a crowded SARS car in a 200 degree skank mobile. BART upper management all needs to be fired or forced to cook in a hot car for month!

  14. Robert Burke says

    My apologies to all genuine and striving artists, victims of your screed, who are actually not a blight in the BART corridors. By the way, the cowboy you disdain is Eric and he has a great voice; and Robert is the accordionist and his dog is Ginger. Your atta boy couched in the whole negative piece about artists is regrettable and unfair.

    My apologies to all artist in the tubes for this unfair diatribe against them:

    Hi Robert and Jonah:
    The inclusion of artists as a blight in the BART environment, has a subtle impact on projecting an undeserved public screed and diatribe regarding one of the things in the BART environment that actually enlivens and brightens the actual ‘blight’ of everything else that is wrong about BART. Too bad the author’s narrow mindedness and negativity included artists in general in such a disparaging way!
    Saw a brief mention of you Robert, and Ginger in this BART rant blog. The mention was couched in a negative rant about all things wrong about BART, however the mention about you was positive, but clouded by everything wrong with BART. I think the cowboy the author mentions is Eric, don’t know of any other cowboys down there.

    This piece needs to be countered with all good things about the positive vibe echoing through the tunnel ways.

    There is a lack of sense of prioritizing the problems or of proffering solutions, so this screed is pretty much a venting. The long musically boring video about BART in the Blog is pretty much a anglicized depiction of a pristine underground system, though the ‘sandhogs’ depict the grimy underground reality.

    Still, it would be nice to at least, clean up the piss and poo, if for nothing else, to provide healthy environment for the musicians who sometimes have to put up with all kinds of crap down there.

    Please pass on to Sammy the Slam, if possible!

    Your friend in the corridors,


  15. Jimmy says

    1) It’s a system that was supposed to get people out of their cars and yet, they charge for parking.
    2) It’s the most expensive subway on Earth.
    3) The trains are decades old and money that should have been spent on maintenance was give to the employees for their raises.
    4) If BART employees were paid half of what they’re getting now, they’d still be overpaid.
    5) The best day on BART for me will be the last day I have to ride on it.

    To the BART Directors and employees – you suck!

    • says

      Maybe, just maybe if BART provided bathroom people wouldn’t be doing this.
      It happens all of the time because they think they are saving us from terrorist by closing the bathrooms.
      But we really know it’s just a way of for them to have one less job to do, cleaning bathrooms.

    • Oakland Mofo says

      Could you imagine if the hundreds of thousands of BART riders that are smart enough to utilize our terrible public transportation system tried to drive a car across the Bay Bridge and park in downtown San Francisco every day? Idiot, go home.

  16. Sarah says

    Totally agree.. I can put up with the agents, their salary, but for pity sake, BART, figure out how to get rid of the thugs, put on enough trains for us that are not seniors, but not spring chickens either and NEED a seat! Instead of BART Police shooting people, why don’t you write fines for people that eat on the train, take bikes up escalators and deal with the thugs and the homeless.

    ok, sorry, but yes, BART drives me not only to work, but nuts!

  17. Lori Ann says

    I would take BART from Livermore/Dublin to Civic Center and then jump on Muni's N and then get dropped off at UCSF Medical center. You have now made sure that I never step foot outside of Civic Center!

  18. Deejay Audio-One says

    Julian Ahmed: There been a lot of "medical emergencies" and "Due to police activity" lately on the BART system. Just last week, Everyone on the train I was on were asked to get off the train "due to police activity". WTF?!

  19. Deejay Audio-One says

    Right on the nail. I bring newspapers on trains so I can have a layer between me and said soiled seats.

    • 510CaliRican says

      I’m a bus operator for AC and would like feedback. Let’s face it, when your dealing with public transit anywhere in this country yet world your never going to satisfy everyone. Tons of reasons why public transit can be late, traffic if it’s bus lines, the more people you pick up the more time goes by, especially picking up seniors, wheelchairs, that takes time to make sure everyone is boarded safe, sometimes buses brake down, or someone on our bus has caused a problem. Two months ago two guys had guns on my bus and had to call that in, not only did that make me late, everyone had to get off my bus and wait for another while police investigated the situation. A lot of factors can make us late, especially on my 1 & 1R lines, they are the busiest.

      • Totally says

        Cleanliness . . . Pretty sure that would help a lot. Vending Machines, something to do while waiting, and extra revenue! Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, London; and many more, all have amazing public train systems! You can’t please everybody, can you please anybody?

  20. Tala says

    Damn you had me rolling. Nice article. I, too, hate BART. I am also grateful for it because it keeps some congestion off the roads and allows people without a car to get to their jobs. That said, it could be greatly improved upon. Specifically, their weird ass rules about bikes, the filth (I once sat my purse down in a puddle of piss), the expense and the fact that it doesn't even run until the bars close. Don't even get me started about the night owl bus.

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