10 Reasons You Hate BART

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 system.

mission bart sucks

BART is overpriced!

For one, it’s way over priced. 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 trapped under the Transbay Tube for up to 30 minutes at a time.

Strike? BART Employees are overpaid!

Here BART is on strike when 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 shit 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. 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?

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.

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 and leave our metal horses at home. Get on it BART. Simple fix.

BART delay, every day?

So now here we are shoulder to shoulder from the East Bay to SF 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.
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.
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 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 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?

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. 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

west oakland bart sunset

macarthur bart station

richmond bart 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 16billion 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.

Oh, and Silent Disco.


  1. Tala says

    Damn Gerry 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.

    • 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 train systems! You can’t please everybody, can you please anybody?

  2. says

    Your facts about what I do and how much I make are completely inaccurate! The cost of living keeps rising in the Bay Area an s the bonuses that management gets we (frontline employees) done see any of it but were the ones actually doing the work! And you want to complain about being on time and how dirty the trains are, ask some of your fellow passengers before you stick all the blame on us

  3. 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.

  4. says

    "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!" lol

  5. 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?!

  6. says


    Jamela Wells – Total Cost of Employment according to public record ~75K

    The site below shows your gross (before taxes) was around 55K with another 8K in some form of retirement for 2012. That is unless public records are incorrect. Which means your total compensation is pretty close to that 65K average with everything going into your retirement as well.


  7. says

    Based on all the statistics I have seen an average operator / station agent makes $65k + 16k a year in overtime. If you have other numbers sharing with proof would help because this is spread across several news sites.

    Plenty for someone who does so little. Also if you think you do more than we think you do more facts could help. But as we see it any high school goon can do the job for less. Teachers should be getting paid more than a seat warmer with no skill set.
    Again I am speaking for the angry masses, I included.

    Also, that is how it works in America.
    Management gets bonuses, and people who work don't get any of it.
    This is not unique to BART.
    Now you're stopping others from getting to work costing them a loss of money.

  8. says

    You're stopping us from getting to work which we don't find funny at all.

    And if you're "Train Operator of the Year" and not making around 65k+ overtime then you may want to ask your coworkers what they're making because the factual word around several major Bay Area news sites is that is an average income, not even the high for the position.

  9. L OriAnn GutiérrezCarbajal 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!

  10. 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!

    • 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?

  11. 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!

  12. 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 shit, if for nothing else, to provide healthy environment for the musicians who sometimes have to put up with all kinds of shit down there.

    Please pass on to Sammy the Slam, if possible!

    Your friend in the corridors,


  13. Todd Smith says

    Oakland Mofo – you nailed it – every point regarding the crappy service of BART was spot. 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. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. dfresh says

    Right ons 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… def 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… Tanks for putting the word out… paz.

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