Five Days of Life Lessons Learned on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)

I recently started a new job, so I had to place my energies in that direction. The great thing about commuting into the City by BART is that it offers time for me to Achieve in 5! with my writing of the Thompson Twins third book. So, even though this blog is about lessons learned during my first week of commuting, I am happy to say, I stayed on track with Thompson Twins using Achieve in 5!

Each day, I posted on Facebook lessons I learned during my commute. So, here they are:

DAY 1 ~ Monday
Riding BART mimics one of life’s phenomena. I am on the last train at 7:56am (rush hour). No one is seated beside me or most of the other passengers on this train. I am sure that in the middle of the train there are people crowded, standing, and wondering why they can’t get a seat.

How does this relate to life?

First, I don’t really know what is happening anywhere else on the train, but I am making an assumption based on past experience.

Second, if I am right, why do we accept unpleasant situations when a little exploration might yield a perfect seat.

BART to SF Day 2 ~ Tuesday
Yesterday we hit the Lafayette Station and there were still seats. Today I decided I could save 1.50 a day by driving an extra mile to Lafayette. Little did I know that Lafayette started charging 1.50 a day too to park further away from the station than Pleasant Hill. So, I got to the station with less than a minute before the train I rode yesterday arrived. I had to put money in the parking validation machine and it kept rejecting my dollar. I missed the train and now I get the pleasure of standing all the way to SF (no seats left). Lesson: sometimes you need to try your better way to realize it ain’t better.

BART to SF Day 2 – On the way home. When I worked in San Francisco five years ago I got off at Civic Center Station. Because Civic Center is the first station entering downtown from San Francisco, I could always get a seat on my way home. Now that the Embarcadero is my stop and the last stop when leaving the city the train is packed by the time I get on. So, today I took the train back to Civic Center and crossed the platform to board the train home. It sets me back about 15 minutes but was well worth the comfort of a seat on the ride home. – Lesson: if you are willing to take a strategic step backwards you may find yourself in a better situation when you go forwards.


BART to SF Day 3: I slept well last night and awoke early thus morning ready for the day. I was out of the house by 6:35 (the two previous days I left at 7:00). Then I realized I forgot my phone – those of you who know me, know that I can’t function well without my phone. Anyway, I returned home picked it up and made it to BART with time to spare. On the elevator, a fella passenger informed me that BART was running 15 minutes behind, but then we heard a train. No big deal, I have plenty time to spare. Got to the machine to purchase my tickets for the next two days and put in the validation for my parking. The ticket portion went well – parking validation didn’t. I inserted my debit card. No luck. I inserted it again. No luck. I inserted a BART ticket, no luck. I inserted it again. Still no luck. I searched for money in my purse. No luck. . I informed the person behind me that the machine wasn’t working for tickets or cards. He tried cash – no luck. I went to the counter the agent said, “There are machines inside.”

I walk up to the machine and opened my purse, I could hear my normal train coming to the station. Do I pay the parking fee and likely miss the train or do I run for the train risk messing up my sensitive knees and pay a fine?

I ran for the train. Jumped in just before the doors closed and pushed my way through the crowd to land a seat on the last train and my knees are fine. Day 3 Lesson: Sometimes in life it’s not a matter of a good choice or a bad one. Sometimes you just have to choose.

P.S. On day 3 I left work at 7pm – Lesson: bad habit follow you unless you make a concerted effort to change them.


BART to SF Day 4 ~ I made it onto BART without incident. I parked, the elevator came, I could put my parking space and pay in the machine. (Oh, by the way, I don’t think I got a ticket yesterday unless they mail them to you). So, life is good. However, I notice many of the people who walk in the BART station with me do not stop at the machine to pay. I need to figure out that trick and I think I will purchase a clipper card. They seem much more efficient and we have commuter checks at work. I’m not sure if they are subsidized. Thanks to a couple of friends, I have some new tips to make the commute better. Any other tips are appreciated. Lesson: Even when things are working, through observation and accepting good advice from others with more experience, it can get better.

SF to BART and home Day 4 ~ Guess what I got? Yes, that’s a Clipper card. Apparently the clipper card is good all around the Bay Area woo Hoo! I’m set even if I don’t have money. I’m sure you want to hear how easy it was to acquire my all transportation card… It was a piece of cake to get. I stood in a line of only 2 people. The line moved fast and within 2 minutes I had the card. Then I went to enter the BART area. I followed another Clipper who slammed her card down saw a green “OK” and went through. I took her lead. I walked up, slammed my card down and a red “See Agent” popped up. Deflated, I went back to the agent and told her the card did work.

“It should work” she said confidently, she took the card, checked something and said “hold the card down a little longer.” I shrugged my shoulders went crack to the entrance, gently put my card on the pad…”SEE AGENT” I looked back at the agent. She motioned for me to come back. She changed my card and I was on my way. Proud owner of a blue clipper card, ready to take my two stops back, grab a seat and head home.

Lesson: life’s little glitches make great stories.

BART to SF Day 5 ~ Oy Vey. You would think by day 5 I would have this down. NOT! Got to BART with clipper card in hand. Walked up to the entrance, placed the card on the pad – SEE AGENT. Went to the agent. She fixes it. Then I proceeded to the validate parking pad and placed my clipper card on the pad. SEE AGENT. I walked back over to the agent. “Have you used it for parking before.” No… “You have to first register it and get a hang tag. Pay cash.”

So, I go to the machine to pay cash and put in the money assuming I will put in the parking space number 1914 after, I received change and a statement that my parking was validated. I took the receipt and left. I apparently paid for someone else’s stall. (I wonder how much that will cost me when i get back and have a ticket.

Today’s Lesson: read the instructions – I think I may have gotten some when I got my clipper card.

Today’s Affirmation – I will conquer this commute!

Trip Home: Got to my car and thought I had a ticket.

Instead it was a discount for a haircut. Life is good!


Five Days of Life Lessons Learned on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) — 5 Comments

  1. After completing my return trip to Civic Center with my other $2 Clipper card, I ended up with $16.20 worth of BART rides for $4. If I had entered BART at one of the terminus stations, like Pittsburgh Bay Point, and traveled to SFO round-trip, I could have gamed BART for $21.80.

  2. Can I pay for parking with my EZ Rider/SFO Discount Card?Yes. Sign up for parking payment with the registration form on the EZ Rider website. You will receive a hang tag to display in your car which will allow you to park in any FEE area of those BART stations with paid parking. After parking and entering the paid area of the station, touch your card to the plastic disk on the Parking Validation Machine. There is no need to remember your stall number. All parking rules apply. Go to the EZ Rider web site at: for more information.

  3. How to Use BART TicketsChildren 4 and under ride free but everyone else must have a ticket. BART tickets are like debit cards with stored value. All BART stations have automatic ticket vending machines that accept nickels, dimes, quarters and $1 coins, as well as $1 $5, $10 and $20 bills. You can also use credit and debit cards in select machines.

  4. “Discounted Clipper cards can still be obtained at various transit agency ticketing and administrative offices as well as the Concord Police Department, but now Seniors have more options that may be closer to home,” BART Board President John McPartland said.

  5. This is one of the larger Bart stations that you can board the Bart and the Muni. Pretty clean and easy to navigate.They have a clipper card station, so if you loose it or need one just stop there at the Cipper Kiosk and get one there.

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