Last train of the night

Monday night I was too tired to type this, all my energy gone after the concert. Nothing much happened today, though, and I was sleepwalking anyway, so let me tell you ... the rest of the story ... about what happened after the Rolling Stones concert last night.

Kallie and I waited in line an hour and a half at the BART station, train after train, because every time a train pulled in, a thousand people from the concert filled it up. No complaints about that, really. It was a crowded concert, lots of people took the train, and that's smart. People should take the train.

When we finally got onto a train, though, it was the last train of the night.

Yeah, this has always seemed stupid to me, but the Bay Area Rapid Transit system — transit backbone for nine counties, and about 4,000,000 people — shuts down overnight, every night. After midnight, you're on your own. I'm usually not out so late, so this was the first time I’d ridden the last BART of the night, and it was chaos and madness. Cue the music from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil

Kallie and I and a thousand others wedged ourselves onto the last train, but the train didn’t move. The driver announced, “This is the last train of the night. If you don’t want to spend the night in Oakland, you must take this train to your northbound destination.” Five minutes later he announced it again, and then five minutes after that and five minutes after that.

My theory: After a concert, BART expects stragglers, so they ordered the last train to wait. But there were no stragglers. Nobody on the platform, nobody running for the platform. The train idled for twenty damned minutes.

When the doors finally closed and the train rolled away, the next few stops were routine. The driver made no “last train” announcements to nobody. And then, at 12th Street Station, the train waited for ten minutes, and it got confusing.

I guess the typical track and platform transfers aren’t applicable for the last train of the night? The driver clicked the p.a. on, and gave unclear and contradictory instructions about which platform to go to for a San Francisco train. And then he said “Just a minute,” clicked off the p.a., and when he came back he said, “Disregard everything I’ve told you, there’s been a change in tracks.”

He explained, there would be no transfers at all at this station. Just this once — unlike every other BART ride ever — anyone headed for destinations on the Concord or San Francisco lines should stay on this train until MacArthur Station, and transfer there. Then the doors opened, hundreds of people said “Huh?”, a few people got off, and I hope they knew where they were going. 

Similar turmoil at MacArthur Station. The driver announced what platform the other trains would be at, then corrected himself as trains arrived on platforms where they weren’t expected. I don’t understand this track confusion — trains run on tracks, and BART should know which tracks the trains will run on. Not knowing can cause oopsies. Oopsies can cost lives.

When Kallie and I found our train, we sat and waited for 32 frickin’ minutes. Turns out our first train hadn't been the last train after all. BART had sent an extra train to pick up some lost souls at the Coliseum. The train we were on, though, would still be the last train under the bay to San Francisco, so we’d have to wait at MacArthur until the extra Coliseum train got there. 

Nice of BART to send that extra train. I'm all for it. But everyone on our train had caught the right train, was in the right place, knew where they were going, and we were punished for the stupidity of others.

That’s why it took three damned hours to get from the Coliseum to Powell Street, which is usually a 22-minute trip. That’s why I got home at 2:10 in the morning, and after writing yesterday's entry, got to sleep at about 3:30. That’s why I was groggy and generally worthless at work all day.

All I remember from the office is asking Kallie how she was doing, and she said, “I’m on speed, so I’m doing fine.”

From Pathetic Life #6
Tuesday, November 1, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life 

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