Email I Just Sent To BART Customer Service

To BART Customer Service,

This morning, October 4th, 2008, my wife and I tried to take BART to the San Francisco Airport. We have done this in the past with no problem. We purchased a parking permit, drove to Millbrae, and parked in the lot. We purchased our tickets, $1.50 each, and boarded the 5:48am train on Platform 3, which was clearly labeled as going to San Francisco Airport. We had looked up the train schedule online, where it also clearly stated that the 5:48 train went to San Francisco Airport.

To make sure, we even asked some others on the train, and everyone on the train agreed that this was the train to San Francisco Airport – including a group of people who worked at the airport and clearly had taken this train many times before.

Unfortunately, it appears that the conductor of the train had other ideas. After leaving Millbrae and flying through San Bruno and South San Francisco, we, as well as many other passengers on the train (including the airport workers), began to stand up and wonder where the train was headed. Other passengers, who said they always take this train, said that it made no sense, and it appeared the conductor simply forgot to go to the airport. We used the intercom system to ask, and were told that this train was NOT going to the airport. After more and more people started asking why not, the train conductor stopped the train at the next station, Colma, and told us that we should get off there and catch another train to SFO.

When we got off the train, we tried to go to the conductor to ask her what happened, and as she saw us approach (she was looking out the window back at us), she closed the doors and took off.

There was a group of about 10 of us, all trying to get to the airport, left alone on the platform. We used a phone to look up the train schedule, and discovered the next airport-bound train would not arrive for another HOUR.

We approached a BART employee at Colma who called to find out what happened, and tried to find out if he could get another train to take us all to the airport. He admitted to us that it appeared the conductor of our train simply ignored the route she was supposed to take. After staying on the phone for five minutes, he said we would need to wait another 10 to 15 minutes to find out if another train could come get us.

By this point, all of us (both travelers and airport workers) realized we needed to be at the airport before another train would arrive, so we all took taxicabs to the airport. For my wife and I, our cab ride cost us an additional $35.

We did eventually make it to the airport, but it was no thanks to BART, which stranded us at the wrong location, and forced us to pay an extra $35. I would like to request that BART refund the $35 my wife and I paid, as well as the $3 worth of BART tickets that we bought as well.

Both my wife and I have ridden BART for many years, and have never had any problems. We are assuming that this was a one-time mistake, but it has certainly shaken our faith in the BART system. We feel particularly bad for the airport employees who were late to work, and out the cab fees as well. I hope that BART will consider better systems to make sure these sorts of mishaps do not happen in the future.

Thanks for your attention to this matter,

Michael Masnick

One Comment

Davis Freeberg  on October 8th, 2008

This is pretty crazy. It sounds like a nightmare situation. I’m not surprised that BART is ignoring the email. It probably wouldn’t have even been that bad if it was a different stop and you didn’t have a flight to catch. The train conductor must have known that she made a mistake otherwise she wouldn’t have taken off like that.

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