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little effort, big connection

By enelson
Saturday, May 13th, 2006 at 12:30 pm in connectivity.

One of my colleagues, Matthew Artz, did a story out of Union City that showed how failing to make a small effort — in this case costing the city $300,000, which in transportation circles is spit in a bucket — can cause major problems for those of us who have somewhere to go.

On an even smaller scale, it’s like when your bus gets to the BART only five minutes late, but you have to catch the next train 15 minutes later, which gets you to your transfer station such that you’re 35 minutes late getting to the airport and forfeit that excursion fare to see the girlfriend who’s tired of waiting for you.

In Union City’s case, it’s about synchronizing a railroad crossing gate with a traffic light, so the light turns red when the train is coming and you don’t have gridlock in the intersection when the gate is closed but the light is green.

There are so many places where a little coordination — a well-placed sign on a subway platform, a route map at a bus stop or a list of fares in front of a ticket window — can make travelers’ lives so much easier.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is working on fixing things like that, but it’s doing it in its own signature big way: A massive “connectivity” study that led to a plan whose gears are now grinding into action.

Connectivity is about those little things, such as why some BART cars seem to have maps and others don’t, except that a member of the commission had to be told that because that was strictly under BART‘s perview, it wasn’t, as such, a connectivity issue.

At the bottom of this post is a place to add your own comment. So whoever might be reading this and is brave enough to leave your name, let me know what your pet connectivity issue is.

Bring me your mislabeled signs, your poorly marked passageways, your untransferrable transfers, yearing to breathe no more. Let me know, and if anyone is, in fact, reading this (Is that an echo?), I’ll compile a list of peeves and see if any of them might be addressed by the MTC or other responsible agency.

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One Response to “little effort, big connection”

  1. Leslie Stewart Says:

    Here’s one for you — at night when you are on a BART train, it is sometimes almost impossible to see what the station sign is saying when the train stops — if you have one of the drivers who either doesn’t announce the station or is coping with a bad sound system, it is a challenge to know when you have gotten to the right station. Better signage or lighting is definitely needed!

    Also on BART (which I also use just about every day): I notice that at Coliseum station there are signs on the pillars on the platform telling which side to use for trains going to Fremont or to SF & Richmond. Apparently this is for sports fans. However, these handy signs would also be extremely useful at stations such as 12th Street and 19th Street — I have had to offer directions at least once a week to people who land on the platform and don’t know which side to use after that.

    Leslie Stewart

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