Bay Area’s BART Beleaguered


Bay Area’s BART Beleaguered

Read the following at your own risk – the headline was great compared to the rest.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit District is getting flack from its own board members due to complaints from riders that the technology used in the parking areas is too complicated for the average driver in Baghdad by the Bay. If one tries to reach the Barbary Coast from Oakland or San Leandro you have to drive to the station, park, pay for parking at a Pay By Space machine, and then press on to your train and a transfer to a little cable car…

The problem is, it seems, is that folks can’t remember their space numbers or they make an error punching in the three or four digits. That being the case, an alert enforcement officer nails them, a citation is written, and thus begins a conflict that probably ends at the ninth circuit court of appeals, who most likely will say that the charge for parking was unconstitutional, only to be overturned on a 9 zip decision by the Supreme court.

According to my buddy Kevin Hagerty of BART, parking is becoming a major issue as ridership increases and more and more folks are cheating on the lots. BART issues parking permits and often the reserved spaces are taken by non permit holders and the problem is made even worse.

This is a classic example where a bridge technology has been installed, only to be, extremely quickly, overtaken by another, potentially longer lasting technology.

Most of the wags in the industry, looking at the macro of on street parking, have posited that pay and display and pay on foot are technologies that is bridging between the parking meter and something out there, in San Francisco’s case, halfway to the stars.

The problem is that folks are rushing to the train, don’t want to take the time to deal with a meter, and haven’t planned ahead enough to buy a permit, which, by the way, are sold in limited numbers. Naturally they will make mistakes at the P by S machine, or if they came from Berkeley and are heading for the Haight, might transpose a number or two.

The solution: Pay by Cell Phone.

I have noted earlier this week that Chicago (and innumerable other cities) use this technology. It doesn’t replace the Pay by Space or Pay and Display, but it enables those who wish to pay their parking fees on the run so to speak. You park your car. Hit a preset on your phone, enter your space number, and that’s it. No messing with money, cards, or waiting in line for the machine. This is the perfect application since most of the people in the lots use them every day. Of course this doesn’t solve the problems with the folks from the smoke filled rooms in Berkeley because you still have to press the right button on the cell and enter the space number, but you can’t have everything.

The neat thing about this is you can add it to your system with very little capital outlay, it solves the problem, and you can still keep your existing system for folks who prefer to use it.


John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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