I thought I had plenty to complain about commuting until today’s Spare the Air Day.
I know that everyone has their own commuting horror stories, but I alway find that mine are the most compelling for the simple reason that all this stuff happened to me.
My Sacrifice Myself for the Air Day began with the Capitol Corridor Amtrak train out of the Central Valley, which was late. No shock here. Arriving in Richmond, I found myself reaching, Pavlov-style, for my BART farecard, only to see the “Do not pay” stickers covering the slots. I thought: You wrote this story, idiot.
Then came the normal breathless race up the escalator, to the sound of “four-car Fremont train now boarding.” I climbed faster, finding the train at the very end of the platform, too far for me or any of my Amtrak-mates to reach in the 10 seconds before it closed its doors and slid south.
Did I mention that I had left my cell phone at home?
Arriving at the Coliseum BART station, I was confronted with a bus driver demanding $2 to take me to the airport.
“But it’s Spare the Air Day,” I said. “BART is free. AC Transit is free.”
“We have nothing to do with BART,” she snipped.
“But you’ve got `BART’ plastered all over the side of your bus,” I said, leaning out the door and pointing.
“We’re Port of Oakland. We don’t have anything to do with that.”
After I heard her summoning a supervisor to help her with an unruly passenger, I decided to pay $3 to the guy in front of me. He had put $5 in the slot because he didn’t have any change. The driver did care enough to arrange for me to be paid out of his overpayment, so I decided to pay him all the change he was due.
After seeing the airport’s new Terminal 2 checked luggage screening system (see story in tomorrow’s paper), I mentioned the incident to Rosemary Barnes, the airport spokeswoman.
She apologized and thanked me, saying she didn’t even know that the airport’s miniature transit system wasn’t participating in Spare the Air Day.
It cost me an extra 20 minutes, but I avoided AirBART on the way back, and waited for AC Transit’s #50 bus, which I could reliably expect to be free on Spare the Air Day.
A couple of hours later, Rosemary from the airport called me to thank me again. Seems she wasn’t the only one who had overlooked Spare the Air Day.
“As a result of your bringing it to my attention, I have dicussed it with management,” she told me. Management, it seems, is intent on joining the Spare the Air bandwagon.
“We just know it’s the right thing to do,” she said.
Tomorrow (Friday), AirBART will be be free.
What’s more, is the airport will take the financial hit if they have to. My sources tell me that airport officials did, however, appeal today to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to be included in the $7.5 million program to reimburse transit agencies for covering their fare boxes.
On the way home tonight, my procrastination and my desire to blog before catching BART caused me to once again wait until the 6:53 BART out of 12th Street/Oakland. It was, regrettably, delayed to the point of nearly doubling for the 7:01.
That meant my five-minute window to catch the 7:22 Capitol Corridor had dissolved to a -1 minute window, which I was ready to jump out of by the time I got to Richmond.
But the commuting gods smiled upon me, and the day came to a happy conclusion as it had begun, with the Capitol Corridor five minutes late.