There are three common types of commuters who share the commute experience. Most people are average citizens who realize we’re all in this together, so they try to make it pleasant enough for fellow travelers while not being personally inconvenienced. Average citizens will do little things to make the experience more tolerable like try to reduce personal space or move toward the center of the car. Some average citizens take extra multiple measures to make the commute easier for everyone like dropping bags between feet or moving to the center of the car. These citizens elevate to the level of BART heroes. And, of course, where there’s a hero there’s always a villain. The BART villain seems to lack empathy or a sense of personal space. Here are steps the average commuter can take to make the leap to hero.
HERO: People who step out onto the platform to create an easy exit path.
These heroes understand that by getting out of the way everyone can get out faster and we all get to our destination sooner.
VILLAIN: The person who huddles next to the door reducing the size of the exit.
The Door Huddler is afraid of stepping out to make a path. They cuddle with the support bar next to the door bottlenecking the number of people who can exit at the same time.
HERO: People who put backpacks on the floor.
If you’re trying to stay balanced on BART you’re probably standing with your legs shoulder-length apart anyway. Real heroes take advantage of the space between their feet by filling it with a backpack.
Villains probably have zero sense of personal space anyway, so it’s no surprise they keep backpacks on. Somehow, the villains who tend to keep backpacks on are also the villains with the fullest and fattest backpacks so they take up nearly an entire person space.
HERO: People who make seats available for people who need to sit.
This is BART Etiquette 101. If you’re able-bodied, you at the very least offer up your seat. A hero sees someone who might be in need of a seat and simply gets up without forcing the question.
SUPERHERO: You know someone is going to need that open seat more than you, so you don’t fill it and choose to stand or sit deeper in the car.
VILLAIN: The people who stare at their phones and ignore pregnant women, people with canes, and the elderly.
What else is there to say except: SHAME.
HERO: People who don’t sit with legs spread wide taking up multiple seats.
A hero has empathy for the person sitting in the next seat and realizes not everyone loves knocking knees with strangers.
VILLAIN: People who manspread.
Yeah, yeah, some women do it, too, and they shouldn’t, but the fact is men definitely do it more often. If it’s late at night and the seats are mostly empty, by gum, let your crotch breath. If it’s commute time, close ’em up. No one wants to thigh snuggle while going to work.
SUPERVILLAIN: People who take up multiple seats with bags or by lying down.
Backpacks go on laps. If you get on in Colma during rush hour and need to pass through downtown SF, stay upright. Someone will need that seat next to you.
HERO: People who get Clipper cards and BART tickets out well before the turn styles.
Heroes have their BART ticket or Clipper Card ready to go before even approaching the exit, so they don’t congest the exit. No one wants to be in a transit station longer than necessary.
VILLAIN: People who wait until the last possible minute to dig for a transit ticket and hold up everyone trying to get through.
Villains stop directly in front of the exit to dig in a bag for a ticket or Clipper card. Everyone behind them has to change trajectory and use a different exit or wait.
HERO: People who don’t look at their phones while going up and down the stairs to BART.
Heroes pay attention to where they’re going. It might be out of a sense of personal safety or it might be because they know people move slower while looking at mobile devices.
VILLAIN: People who can’t put their phones away for the short time it takes to climb or descend stairs.
HERO: People who see bikes getting on and make room in the bike space.
VILLAIN: People who ignore the bike getting on and create an awkward situation for the cyclist.
Villains will often ignore the cyclists completely in a selfish effort to keep a space by the bike bar.
BONUS HERO: Tall people who move to the middle and make space near the walls for shorter people who can’t reach the bar.
This one isn’t always that obvious. The world is full of people of all shapes and sizes. Not everyone has the height advantage to reach the handles hanging off the bars. Tall heroes are aware of this fact and try not to take up space by the walls, so shorter people have something to grab when the train lurches.
The Greatest BART Heroes: BART employees, duh.
Photo below of workers in the 70s courtesy of BART. BART needs to bring back those racing stripes.