If you were at Dreamforce last week, you witnessed first-hand what public transportation can be like in San Francisco – especially with the addition of over 100,000 people to the city streets. And though Dreamforce is over – don’t get too comfortable in your BART seat – there are numerous other conferences coming to town (for example, TechCrunch Disrupt is happening now and BoxWorks is next week).
From experience, I can tell you that you should expect standing room to be tough to come by on BART during the 7:30am-9am and 4pm-6pm hours. A lot of times, especially during Dreamforce, Oracle Open world and other huge events, you’ll find that trains are already over maximum capacity when it reaches your station, stranding long, weaving lines of passengers who find the next train to be just as crowded! Here are a few tips to help you navigate BART:
1) It’s 5:30pm. You’re tired from a full day of sessions and walking between meetings, and you just want to go home. While Powell Station is the closest BART station to Moscone, if you want to ensure that you get onto a train, walk a few extra blocks and board at Civic Center Station instead. Most Moscone conference attendees will board at Powell, and in most cases, less than 25% of passengers from each line will actually be able to squeeze themselves onto a train. Save yourself some stress and discomfort, board at Civic Center.
2) Don’t be THAT guy. Yes, the guy that wears a huge backpack on the train and completely unaware that he is bumping passengers left and right. BART is already unbearably crowded where passengers have less than 1.5 inches of personal space. Put your bag full of conference swag down on the ground. Yes, BART floors are dirty but the size of your bag is taking up the space of one extra passenger! You don’t want to be the guy that gets all the dirty looks and possibly a couple shoves along the way.
3) Know in advance which exit is the right one to take once you disembark at the station. Take the wrong turn, and you can find yourself in the middle of shopping mecca (if you’re getting off at Powell). And if you are lost, do NOT stand in the middle of the escalator or stairway entrance and block everyone else! Go up, and step aside out of everyone’s way, and then pull out your Google Maps to find your way.
4) If you don’t know the BART escalator etiquette already, you better memorize it now. Step left if you are in a hurry and need to walk/jog up or down the escalator. Step right if you want to stand still as the escalator moves. Don’t be like the summer tourists who stand in groups from left to right and make passengers miss a train by 3 seconds.
Whether you’re coming to San Francisco for an upcoming conference, waiting for next year’s Dreamforce or going for another special event – keep the above tips in mind whenever you ride BART. You can thank me later.