January 12, 2012

BART to the future...

It looks as if BART has made a leap forward in their quest to update the train cars in the system.  The original car design has been running with minor changes and refurbishments since 1972, so this will be a welcome upgrade.


(Photo Courtesy of BART)

So if all goes as planned, we might be riding these in September 2016.  BART is still taking community input in regards to the internal seat configurations and the color palette to be used, so if you actually care, let them know.


May 19, 2011

Old BART photos

The San Francisco Chronicle posted a bunch of photos from the early 60's and 70's from when the BART system was first being built.  There is no particular point to this post, just that these pictures are really cool.

(Image from San Francisco Chronicle)



January 04, 2010

BART Tube Cellular Update: Awesome!

After posting about the cellular upgrade in the BART Transbay Tube, I decided to check out the service for myself.  Using a Sprint 3G data adapter, I was able to keep a decent signal from the West Oakland BART station to the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco without dropping a connection.  What is somewhat ironic here, is that the service under the water was better than in Lake Merritt Station, which is station closest to BART HQ!

BART Cellular Readings at West Oakland

BART Cellular Readings in the Transbay Tube

BART Cellular Readings in the Transbay Tube

BART Cellular Readings at the Embarcadero Station 

December 22, 2009

Huzzah! Cell coverage under the Bay on BART

It has finally happened.  Oh happy day! Four wireless carriers turned on their cellular coverage in the BART Transbay tube, which goes under the San Francisco Bay.  Now people will have more ways to annoy each other while hurtling at 70 miles per hour under water of the bay.  With the recent issues with the Channel Tunnel in the UK/France, it is nice to have a bit more communications infrastructure in place for a piece of mind.

(Photo Courtesy of Paul Wicks on Flickr)


December 11, 2009

BART into Oakland Airport! WOOT!

It was just announced today that BART will finally build a train to connect the Oakland Coliseum Station in Oakland to the Oakland International Airport. Why is this so exciting?  For one, the AirBART bus connection was awful.  In the past the only real mass transit route to a major airport was via BART to the San Francisco International Airport, and that train ride was approximately 90 minutes including one transfer.  According to BART's news release, this new train will make the trip in a little over 8 minutes, which makes the trip from my station just 34 minutes total.  Talk about time and money savings!  Just make sure there aren't any Raiders games when you plan on flying!  While it won't be finished until at least 2014, it is definitely something to look forward to.





August 13, 2009

The comfort of hard plastic

While my youthful days of bare minimum travel are over, I still get a kick out of what people will do to save a buck.  Donna McSherry started the site Sleeping in Airports, which is a user updated website that gives you tips on the best places to crash when you are traveling on a budget.  Even if you are not traveling around the world on a pocket full of change, you might find some of the descriptions extremely amusing.


(Photo Courtesy of Holiday-Extras on Flickr)

An example of the crazy reviews that I liked:

Nong Kai - Thai-Lao border - January, 2009
Sleeping at the Thai-Lao border


"I slept at Nong Kai, at the Thai-Lao border in March, 2001. The bus from Bangkok drops you off about 2 am, and it takes a while for the border to open. It is quite deserted, there are benches and tables to sleep on. My friends and I had a great sleep, and we were woken up in the morning by the bells from a nearby Buddhist temple (quite a nice alarm clock!). When the border guards arrived, we realized we had crossed the border in the night and slept the Laotion side! We had to pay an overtime fee but they let us walk back across the border and go through properly." Contributed by Aileen Nowlan" (Added 18 JAN 03)


Good times!


June 13, 2008

Dreams of future BART expansion

Those who know me personally, know that I am a big supporter of mass transit.  While it is not always as clean, safe, and comfortable as your "car bubble zone", it can reduce transit times, lowers pollution and all that environmental stuff.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, there are many transit agencies, but the most wide spread and highest rider concentration is on the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, or BART.  While they are currently expanding down from Fremont to San Jose, and exploring the different routes of connecting to other areas such as Livermore/Tracy and Brentwood/Antioch areas, the vision is starting to seem somewhat blurry. 

I'm getting bored of the diesel locomotive ideas.  One word will answer all questions:



'nuff said. Hoyven Glaven or bust. 

BART System Expansion Plans:


June 11, 2008

Wi-Fi on BART - Part 2

Back in February I wrote a post about BART getting WiFi service.  Last time I flew through SFO, I decided that I'd play around with the wireless signal when I was riding on the train.  In a nutshell, the signal was only available in the underground stations in downtown San Francisco from Civic Center to Embarcadero.   I was really hoping that that the signal would be available while the trains were moving, but unfortunately, no luck.  Just keeping a signal a few feet after leaving the stations was an impossible feat for my cheap Linksys wireless card.  Below are a few screen captures from the connectivity in the four station run.

1. The SSID's available as we rolled into Civic Center Station



2. The captive portal login screen


3. The SSID's available at the Embarcadero station, just before hitting the Transbay tube


The cellular providers use the "leaky coax" method to distribute cellular signals in the 800 and 1900MHz bands in the tunnels, so I don't see how hard it would be to do this at 2.4GHz.  A caveat as well...  I took this trip back in early May, so they may have improved the coverage since then.

This better be the pre-alpha testing, or they are going to have problems with their long term plans... 

March 27, 2008

Spicy HOT Lanes

In the San Francisco Bay Area, the commute can be incredibly tedious.  Depending on my work location, I need to commute from 30 to 45 miles from my house, which in turn requires between 35 and 70 minutes of transit.  As often as I can I try to take mass transit (BART to San Francisco in my case) to reduce my fuel costs, bridge tolls, wear and tear on my vehicle, as well as stress from driving around a bunch of nutjobs.  With the advent of the Fastrak system of wireless toll collection in the SF Bay area, the possibility of paid toll lanes became possible.  Current rumors have the toll rates along Interstate 580 and 680 in the $4 to $5 USD range.  Would it be worth it to me to pay an extra five bucks to shave half an hour off my commute?  Heck yeah!  The only thing you lose out on this is anonymity.

HOT Lanes! 

Source for images and information: 

February 04, 2008

Wi-Fi coming to BART

From the fun fellows at the BART RAGE blog, I'm hearing that there is ongoing testing of a BART Wi-Fi network outside of the four main San Francisco underground stations.  The link to the Wireless Developer Network article is here.  While $30 USD/month is a bit steep for my taste, it is better than a sharp stick in the eye.  If WiFi Rail were to partner with an organization such as T-mobile or AT&T, I think a lot of other people might look into getting this service, but at $30/month it better work at Starbucks or the airport too.

Train in Civic Center BART 

I'm really happy to hear this, as several years ago I tried the T-Mobile GPRS data service while commuting on BART.  I'd get connectivity for about 12-15 minutes of the 55 minute train ride. Boo. Hiss.  There is nothing more fun than 1000ms+ ping times.

For those of you outside of Northern California, this most likely be of no interest unless you'll be using BART to get to/from SFO.