Thursday, October 28, 2010

SF vs. LA Transit

So the SF Giants have managed to make it all the way to the World Series, take down the un-hittable Cliff Lee and win the first of four games to be crowned Champions of Baseball. But how does the Bay Area's transit system match up to LA's?

1. The airport: SF's rail line picks you up at the airport. LA makes you take a shuttle that can be confusing and time consuming. 1 point SF.

2. Price: This is tough, because it depends what system you are using in SF. There are two main transit operators: BART- the Bay Area Rapid Transit and Muni which is the local bus and light rail provider within SF proper. BART's prices are based on geographical distance with a heavy premium for the airport. It cost $8.10 from SFO to Civic Center station (approximately 25 minute trip). The Metro line is $1.50 per ride with no transfers, so if you happened to only take the Green Line to the LAX shuttle it would only cost $1.50. If you had to transfer a day pass might save you some money and runs $5.00, still cheaper than BART. Muni though can be significantly cheaper than Metro, because it allows on and off privileges for 90 minutes for $2 and we managed to go from brunch, to Golden Gate park and to lunch all on one fare. Metro does not allow transfers and taking four buses would have cost $6.00 at a $1.50 per ride. 1 point for SF for Muni's transfers, 1 point for Metro for non-geography based fares.

3. Convenience: Now here's where SF really stands out from LA. First, BART has a paper fare card that can be reused, reducing the number of times you have to visit the fare machine. Times for when the next BART or Muni will arrive are available online and via the iPhone. In the station, times are listed for the next arrival of a train (soon to be available in LA, but should have been around for awhile now). Metro only recently created an iPhone app, but it still does not provide real-time updates for bus/rail arrivals and there is no mobile version of bus/rail schedules (only a painfully slow-loading PDF version). 1 point for SF

4. Style: Now I know this is not as important, but I do want to at least give props to LA for not putting carpet and fully upholstered seats on their rail like BART. I always worry about the number of germs and nastiness that must be living in them. Also, MUNI has weird seat set-ups in their buses with seats facing each other that seem like space wasters. Plus, the public service ads in MUNI paled in comparison to the beautiful Metro ad campaigns.
1 point for LA

Final tally: SF, 3 vs. LA, 2. Looks a lot like our baseball season, they're better than us, but not by much. And with today's approval of the expansion to the Westside, we'll start being able to build a system in the near future that can compete with our Northern neighbors.

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