Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at 8:08 pm in Misc. Transportation.
BERKELEY — Despite stiff fingers from the Tuesday morning cold, Brielle Plump of Oakland managed to tear open the free square of Ghirardelli Chocolate handed to her at the downtown Berkeley BART station.
“Chocolate is good any time of the day,” said the Oakland resident, sliding the peanut butter-milk chocolate combination into her mouth as she waited for a San Francisco train. “It’s very nice of (BART) to recognize that these aren’t easy times in the economy and reach out to their customers.”
Plump and some 50,000 other riders got $1 million worth of free squares and discount coupons, bankrolled by Ghirardelli, as part of BART’s customer appreciation day on Tuesday morning. All seemed appreciative of the gift, though they still had some caveats about the system.
“BART is my only source of transportation to work. I wish they’d have longer trains,” said Shelley Rideout of Berkeley. “Sometimes it’s standing room only and when you are going to be on your feet all day anyway, it’s rough.”
Rideout, who was also on her way to work in downtown San Francisco, said of the candy, “I appreciate these little free bites. It’s advertising for Ghirardelli.” The company was debuting the peanut butter squares via the giveaway.
“In general, it’s (BART) a pretty good system,” Rideout said. In addition to downtown Berkeley, the candy was handed out at the Oakland City Center, Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell and Civic Center stations.
Anne Ronan of Oakland agreed with Rideout. “BART does a good job of getting people to work,” she said as she awaited her train. “It gets a little crowded, but that has to happen for the system to work financially.”
Ronan, who was enroute to work at the Civic Center in San Francisco, said her only complaint is, “I wish they had bigger signs in the stations. The announcers aren’t always good about telling you what station it is.”
The giveaway was “to thank customers for riding BART and doing their part to unclog the freeways and reduce pollution,” according to BART spokesman Linton Johnson. BART ridership soared in 2008 as gas prices did the same, though growth has leveled off in recent weeks.
“Oh, rock on!” said Kurt True of El Cerrito as a worker handed him his chocolate square and coupon cards. Like Rideout and Ronan, True said that “for the most part” he is pleased with BART.
“I like trains with non-carpeted floors and would like to see more of that, because it seems cleaner,” said True, who rides BART to work at UC Berkeley’s library systems office. “Cleanliness is my Number One concern on BART.
“I have a sweet tooth, so I appreciate this,” True said of the chocolate. “I’ll have it for dessert at lunch … if it makes it that far.”
(Photo of downtown Berkeley BART station: hortulus on flickr.)