Last night, I had a strange and somewhat humorous dream. I was at some kind of meeting or event for Kerry Hamill, who’s running against Rebecca Kaplan for the at large seat on the City Council. Why I’d be at a Hamill event, I couldn’t tell you, but I was there. She was on stage talking and after giving some introductory comments she said she wanted everyone in the audience to spend the next 20 minutes discussing why BART was better than AC Transit.
Of course, I couldn’t argue this because if I had to pick only one transit service, I’d pick AC Transit over BART any day. So me and a few others stood up in protest and started arguing why AC Transit was better. Kerry pointed at us and said, “You must be Kaplan supporters!” A reporter ran over to us to get comments from us and that’s where the dream gets fuzzy.
When I initially thought about this dream, I thought about what a dork I am, dreaming about a council race and transit, but I got passed that quickly. My dream was pretty interesting when I looked a bit deeper. In case you haven’t been following the at large race closely, Kerry Hamill is a manager at BART and Rebecca Kaplan serves on the AC Transit Board of Directors. So it wasn’t all that bizarre that in my dream event, Hamill was encouraging us to talk about why BART is better than AC Transit, or really, why Hamill is better than Kaplan.
But I don’t think my dream was really all about Hamil v. Kaplan. Lately, I’ve been realizing how adverse or oblivious my peer group feels towards AC Transit. Many of them don’t have cars or use their cars rarely. They all take BART and walk a lot. So to me it seems like it wouldn’t be a huge stretch to hop on the bus once in a while, but it really is.
Take some examples. One of my co-workers volunteers once a week at a place that’s nowhere near BART. She has no car so every week she finds a ride. Once she even took a cab! When I heard this yesterday, I was shocked so I checked out Google Transit and found out that the place she volunteers is only a 10 minute walk from the 1 line. She hadn’t even considered AC Transit as an option but was grateful when I shared the route with her.
Another friend of mine lives on Claremont just a couple blocks from Telegraph. He’s two blocks from the 1 stop and three blocks from the 1R. Yet most days he drives his car towards BART (there’s no spaces left at Rockridge by the time he leaves), park, and walks several blocks. Since BART only runs every 15 minutes, if he misses it, he’s waiting around for a while. When I asked him why he doesn’t just take the bus, he said he had never really thought about it.
I’ve become increasingly frustrated by how unaware many people are about the convenience of AC Transit. People don’t know the bus lines, and they don’t know about the extra tools that make riding the bus much easier – NextBus, Google Transit, and Translink. So instead of getting around easily by bus, they walk out of their way to go to BART, they find a ride, or they just don’t make trips far away from their homes and work places.
I think it’s time for a huge public education campaign. People are ready to get out of their cars, but this increase in transit ridership is disproportionately effecting BART. Until tonight, I hadn’t ridden BART during commute hours in several months. It was so packed that I vowed not to do that again unless I had to. Even if BART is sometimes a bit quicker than a rapid bus, It’s not worth being squished up against people and barely able to breathe.
As dto510 mentioned to me last night at a fundraiser for Rebecca Kaplan, BART can’t add much more capacity, but AC Transit can. So it’s clearly time to drum up some more interest in riding the bus. Beyond continuing to harass all the people I know, any thoughts on how to do this effectively?