I have the blessing, or the curse, depending on the particular moment and point-of-view, of living where there has been an excellent public transportation system since the mid 1970s. Although some will argue a bit about the routes or the price (based on distance, not a fixed-per-ride like NYC), the fact remains that BART served as the main artery in and out of SF and the surrounding area for over 40 years. The ridership was extensive; the system allowed people to move further and further away from the city in an attempt to control housing prices while maintaining a well paying job.
All of that is currently on hold. Almost all of those with well-paying jobs not in the health-sector are working from home. Which means that they are not riding BART. In turn, BART has decreased the trains about 90%, eliminating many of the straight-through routes in favor of conservation of drivers by forcing transfers. These people are neither on public transportation nor are they out driving. Most sensibly, they have jobs and are at home busily insuring their next pay check.
Which takes me to the next set of riders, those with only an occasional need to drive into SF. Since parking in SF is scarce and extremely expensive, most people who had an easy to reach destination would normally park at a local parking lot for $3 and take BART vs paying $10/hr or more at the rare open parking lot in San Francisco. Many of these same people would use their cars only locally for important uses like trips to the doctors, dentist, grocery store, and movie theater.
Now, that many here are seriously worried about the safety of public transportation – they are driving into the city. It is scary. The German phrase is almost identical to the English – Sontags Fahrer = Sunday driver. I am using it to express my fear and loathing of individuals who, most obviously, should never, EVER be behind the wheel of a car.
Not into SF, not on the Bay Bridge, not on Oak St, not on University Ave. Frankly, not within 10 km of where I am driving. If I had had the time, or a passenger, I would have been taking license plates and calling the Department of Motor Vehicles to report them. Instead, I spent my time avoiding the opportunity to be a participant in a motor-vehicle incident. Or disaster, but I most certainly could not call anything an accident. That would imply no fault or responsibility where there obviously was some.
I was on the road to the SFVA and my oncologist suggested that I not be on public transportation. The ride over on BART is never an issue, nor is the transfer to the METRO shuttle bus. But if I had wanted to head home before 1500, I would have been stuck with the 38 SF Muni which is slow, crowed, and not great at the best of times. It took me 31 minutes from the Peet’s on College Ave right next to where Angel works to the VA, The toll plaza and Bay Bridge were wide open. It took an hour to get home. The difference? People who should NOT have been driving….
(and I am fine. Back on my regular immune therapy schedule since nothing is going to change around here for a long time….)