Today’s Headlines

  • Driver Loses Control on Wet Muni Tracks, Crashes Into Everett Middle School on Church and 16th (ABC)
  • Muni Wants Next Round of Hybrid Buses in Service by Summer (SF Examiner)
  • SFMTA Expands Overnight Parking Bans for Large Vehicles in 61 Locations (SF Examiner)
  • SFCTA to Begin Re-Building Bay Bridge Ramps to Yerba Buena, Treasure Islands (SocketSite)
  • SF Drivers Using Cell Phones Suddenly Claim to Be Looking at Maps (People Behaving Badly)
  • Get Out of the Cutthroat Business of Parking in SF While You Can (SFist)
  • One of Those Terrible Tech Shuttle Riders Shares His Commute, Work Life (Mission Local)
  • Tech Scientist Finds an Exploitable Flaw in BART’s Fare System (SF Weekly)
  • Menlo Park Driver Who Crashed Into Twins on Sidewalk, Blaming Them, Changes His Tune (Almanac)
  • Suspected DUI Driver in Cerritos Leaves a Trail of Destruction (KTVU)
  • Ballot Measure to Kill CA High-Speed Rail Gets Green Light to Collect Signatures (CBS)
  • Chicago Gave Drivers Free Sunday Parking, and Merchants Want the Meters Back (WGN)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • gneiss

    For “parity”, of course, ABC7 needed to throw in that comment about a person on a bicycle crashing on the tracks. Somehow I fail to see how that should be included in a story about a motorist crashing into a middle school.

  • murphstahoe

    I don’t have any problem with more publicity on “wet rails are bad juju”. Heck, it was dry for over a year, we’ve probably added a thousand new city cyclists who’ve never seen a wet rail.

    I’ve seen a car do a 180 on the LRV tracks. One of the more crazy things I’ve seen – I would have presumed that once the car rotated off the tracks the asphalt would arrest the spin, guess once that rotational momentum is going that the wet road will allow the car to keep spinning.

  • Gezellig

    Interesting flaw in the BART system, though as the article points out probably not a pervasively exploitable loophole at least for now.

    Actually, as someone who’s been doing bike+BART more recently I’ve discovered a perhaps more pervasive loophole…some of the BART elevators go directly to and from the train platform from outside the payzone.

    I always pay what I’m supposed to but it is odd that in certain stations I have to go out of my way to do what’s right. For example, the elevator up from the Platform to Concourse level at Balboa Park Station puts you outside the payzone once at the Concourse. So you have to wheel your bike out, tell the operator what you’re doing, enter the emergency swing door and exit with your ticket through the electronic faregates, then return with your bike to the elevator to go up to street level.

    It’s a bizarre setup where the honest thing to do is the absolute least convenient.

    I had honestly never really thought to use elevators before doing bike+BART so I never would’ve been aware of this loophole. And even though I always pay what I’m supposed to I wonder how many other people have also figured this out. If you’re entering and leaving stations that both have this kind of elevator setup I suppose it’s theoretically quite possible to evade fares entirely, unfortunately.

  • murphstahoe

    Bypassing the payzone is more traditional fare evasion.

    The guy found an interesting hack to the system but he’s not thinking big enough. The more profitable loophole is to find someone who commutes the reverse direction from you. Let’s say you are commuting from 24th/Mission to 19th-Oakland. Find someone commuting from 12th to anywhere in SF. Text him when you get on the train. Have him meet you on the 12th Street platform, swap tickets, get back on your train, get off at 19th.

  • Seems like yet another reason for Bart to ditch the fare gates and switch to POP.

  • thielges

    I don’t understand how the courts decided that looking at a smartphone map is safe. Looking at a paper map while driving isn’t safe either. Both should be treated the same as reading a newspaper while driving.

  • Gezellig

    Of course each method has its pros and cons but I wonder if they’ve ever seriously considered a trial for that.

    It also seems it’d allow for greater throughput at peak times.

  • Gezellig

    Sneaky! For BART’s sake I hope no one has really ever done this on a regular basis–though it’s entirely feasible these days with texting.

    As for the elevator thing, I’m sure it is a traditional fare-evasion method BART just has accepted due to relatively low numbers of elevator users.

    I just wonder if since more people are taking bikes on BART (and thus at least occasionally opting more often for the elevators) more people are being exposed to this “one weird trick” they wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. I never would’ve guessed that BART would allow such an obvious loophole, especially when doing the right thing requires so much effort.

  • Tony

    I heard that elevators were added after the fact when the stations were first built, so they’re not in the most ideal locations. Embarcadero and Coliseum are my biggest pet peeves. It’s annoying (and kind of scary) to share a slow elevator ride with fare evaders.

  • baklazhan

    Why not put one of those extra-wide faregates right outside the elevator?

  • Gezellig

    I’ve wondered that, too. I bet it has to do with cost vs. benefits and also space considerations.

    As for the latter, some of those elevators are definitely rigged into odd station places and just a guess but there may not always be enough space by code to include faregates outside elevator doors. For example, I doubt that code would allow having that *right* outside an elevator door…there’d probably have to be a fairly wide walled-berth area around the elevator for that. And that might be unacceptable in some already-tight concourse spaces.

    For the elevators such as at Balboa Park Station that also directly continue up to the street you’d also have to have faregates at the street level (after all, no matter what faregates the Concourse level elevator exit had you could just stay on and go up to the Street) which seems like something BART would be disinclined to do, as well.

  • Chris J.

    There are lots of situations with BART where it’s awkward or unclear what you’re supposed to do. For example, if I lock my bike at the 24th Street station but return to 24th on foot (e.g. after a return trip ending at 16th), what’s the correct way to get your bike out? Do you ask the fare person to let you in and out of the fare zone, or are you supposed to use your Clipper card, etc, to go in and immediately back out at the same station? Another situation is trying to leave a station if the “walk-through” turnstile is broken. I seem to remember that it’s against the rules to carry your bike when passing through the normal turnstiles.

  • Gezellig

    Yeah, that’s a good point–there’s definitely some ambiguity sometimes about what you’re supposed to do. The operators can help, but not exactly sure what you’re supposed to do if there isn’t someone there that moment.

    As for bikes through the normal narrow faregates, I actually didn’t know bikes weren’t supposed to go through there. Lots of people just prop up their bike vertically on one wheel and push through so I assumed that was the thing to do in those situations. I’m sure the operators can’t get too mad about that especially if the wide faregate isn’t working.

    The other thing you can do is ask the operator to go out the emergency swing door (and present them the ticket or Clipper card or something).

  • Andy Chow

    At one time when I looked at a guy waiting for an elevator, he started cussing at me because he’s doing to evade fares.

    There are some systems that require station employee to activate the elevator and are now putting fare gates right next to the elevator to make it disabled friendly (and attract non-disabled riders to use it). At BART, we just discourage anyone who don’t absolutely have to use it by making it as slow and disgusting as possible.

    See pic at link for fare gates right next to elevator:

  • Jim

    POP for BART would suggest that BART Police start doing actual fare enforcement. As of currently, fare enforcement is non-existent, other than for a lone officer sitting at a booth with a two-way mirror.

    I wonder how a system would run where there were no fare gates, but instead, a bunch of free-standing fare validators in either just the concourse area or throughout the entire station.

  • Bruce Halperin

    If you ditch the fare gates, what is to prevent someone from buying a ticket with $0.05 on it and then throwing it away when they get to their destination? You would need a flat fare for the entire system – which in a system as sprawling as BART makes absolutely no sense.

  • The whole point of POP is if you’re caught without a valid ticket, you get a fine. The ticket (or Clipper card) marks where you’ve boarded: all a POP enforcement officer has to do is check to see if your fare is still valid. That’s enough to deter most people from cheating the system.

    There’s plenty of transit systems much larger than BART that use POP — Berlin’s U-Bahn and S-Bahn are a good example.

  • Prinzrob

    It’s telling, though, about all the collateral damage created by motor vehicles in cities. Car slips on wet tracks: School, trees, pole taken out. Bike slips on wet tracks: No serious injuries, no big deal.

  • murphstahoe

    yes, but a cyclist killed a pedestrian once. Ergo, cyclists and cars are equivalent.

  • murphstahoe

    The elevators are made slow not to discourage fare evasion Andy, they are made slow to discourage able bodied people from using the elevator so that the elevator is available for the disabled.

    While you *can* fare evade using the elevator, the percentage of people actually fare evading using the elevator is so laughably low that it would take decades to recoup the cost of putting in the additional fare gates. So you have to decide, what is your utility function – is it more important to make sure that those 17 people per day don’t fare evade, or for BART to have more money for services for the other 400,000 people.

  • murphstahoe

    This is called “Caltrain”

  • murphstahoe

    The extra wide turnstiles used to not exist. You use the emergency gate.