Why do so many people turn around at the end of the BART line?
June 11, 2014 5:54 PM   Subscribe

When I get off BART at the Dublin/Pleasanton station, I often see quite a few people (as many as ten) getting off my train, walking across the platform, and boarding the train that goes the other direction. Dublin/Pleasanton is the end of the line, and there is only one line that goes there. What are these people doing?

I've already thought of two possible answers: they may have missed their transfer station, or they may just be riding for fun. But the former seems unlikely to account for many people, since Dublin/Pleasanton is three stops past the nearest transfer station. As for joyriding, I'm not sure if this is really a thing, particularly before 8:00 in the morning. Is it?
posted by aws17576 to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Do they appear to be homeless? They might be riding just to have someplace warm and safe to hang out.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:07 PM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

Two possible answers:
-People nodding off and going a few stops too far. Happens more often than you'd think early in the morning.
-Some shelters/group homes/half-way houses have rules that all residents are to be out by a certain time very early in the morning and they may be riding to have somewhere comfortable and warm to sit or to kill time before going to work.
posted by tenaciousmoon at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

They are going into SF (or similar places) and want a seat for the entire ride. What they do is ride out to ride in. By getting on the "first" station they get a seat. Otherwise they would have to stand for a large portion of their journey.

SF Muni used to have huge banners that read "Don't Ride Out to Ride In"
posted by bottlebrushtree at 6:13 PM on June 11, 2014 [55 favorites]

I think bottlebrushtree has it. I see people do this all the time, and it's always because by the second stop on the T, it's already standing room only, and often really unpleasant, in-someone's armpit, standing room only.
posted by instead of three wishes at 6:50 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

-People nodding off and going a few stops too far. Happens more often than you'd think early in the morning.

Shiftworkers would be my guess. Once after a night shift, I was riding home on transit around 8:00 AM and rode west, unconscious, right past my stop. I woke up at the end of the line, transferred, and rode asleep past my stop going east a few minutes later. For the third trip, I pinched myself for the ten-minute ride and managed to get home.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:58 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't ridden BART, but I've seen this behavior on transit lines in Toronto and New York, especially for riders who start one, maybe two stops away from the end of the line. When they see a train heading "out", they know that another "inward" train won't leave the end of the line station until after that outward train gets there. It might even be the same physical train that has to turn around at the terminus before heading back.

So 1) they won't be missing an inbound train by taking this outward one to the end of the line first, so it costs them no extra time, 2) riding the train may be more comfortable than waiting at the station platform due to heating/air conditioning, and 3) they'll get a much better seat for the inbound journey this way.
posted by ceribus peribus at 7:05 PM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

I used to do that - not to the end of the line, but I'd get on at Embarcadero, ride back to Civic Center (or if it was really bad, 16th St), and get on there to get a seat.

My mom used to do it the other way, getting on at Lafayette, and riding back to Pleasant Hill to get on the train that originates there.
posted by colin_l at 7:32 PM on June 11, 2014

My commute used to involve taking a bike on BART from SF to the East Bay, and I'd frequently have to head a few stops inland from Embarcadero in order to get a wall spot and/or board a train at all. It's people gaming the system, but I don't blame them; it's not entirely fair that you should never get a seat on your morning commute simply because you live in Oakland, and they are getting up earlier than they have to, in order to do so.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 7:38 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Supporting bottlebrushtree's response - this is also an awesome move when taking transit home from a big event when everyone leaves at the same time for the train: ride the opposite direction from the masses for a stop or more (usually handy from a downtown station going further into downtown rather than out), grab a seat on an empty train going the other, be smug while people stand after entering at your original stop.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:09 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Before my claustrophobia and anxiety about crowds got really bad, I could spend hours joyriding on the subway, and would do exactly what you mention in your question. But it seems like people more familiar with BART have smarter answers... but I'd be willing to guess one or two people you see doing this are doing so because it's a really good way to be out in public, without having to spend much money, and a societal understanding that you really, really do not have to interact with other people.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:54 PM on June 13, 2014

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