Disability Perspective—- BART /MUNI Accessibility Problems Persist

by Bob Planthold on February 7, 2017


MUNI travel on Saturday, 4 February is an example of how many different things can go wrong for those who are transit dependent and need lifts, escalators, and / or elevators. MUNI travel from near Church & Market to a BART station took over ONE hour.

Well before 8 am, a trolley bound for a nearby BART station approached my stop. When the lift was deployed, it stalled near the top. With some restart action, the operator got me on.  But the lift did not retract into its storage position. Then the bus totally stalled out.

The operator called Central Control and followed the instructions; after several more restarts, the lift was retracted, but still no power.

After several more fruitless minutes, we all got off.  A follow-on trolley pulled around the stalled trolley and boarded all the able-bodied — while it was  in the opposite red lane that is restricted to MUNI  and taxis.   For reasons unknown,  the operator did not board me,  even though  there was space to do so and no oncoming traffic.

Since my MUNI route to BART in that direction was blocked,  I tried a circumventing route to get to a different BART station. This alternate route to BART took me to a surface stop for streetcars that would enter a MUNI tunnel. Once on board  a streetcar, we had to wait several minutes just to get into the tunnel.  This was at 8:15 am on a Saturday, a day and time when MUNI trains run less frequently than weekday service.  After we finally got into the tunnel,  we had to wait a couple of minutes at each successive underground stop.  A view out the front windshield did not show a backup of multiple MUNI trains ahead of us.

When I got to the MUNI  station where I planned to transfer to BART, more delays occurred.  The “up” escalator  was not in service.  So, to get to the elevator, I trekked down the bleak corridor that is hidden from view of other passengers, all the while inhaling the fumes of various organic compounds.

Yes that access device did work, BUT only through this weekend. An English-only notice, without any information in any accessible formats, indicated this elevator will be out of service all this first full week in February.  The problems do not end with my finally getting to BART.

When I returned home, I toured various parts of the MTA website. I looked at the Projects &  Planning section entitled “Accessibility Projects”, the Getting Around section entitled “Accessibility” and  even the News section.

None of these accessibility-related sections showed any information about the out-of-service escalator NOR about the elevator shut down planned for this coming  week.   BART owns these downtown underground stations and has some responsibility for maintenance / repair of elevators and escalators; accordingly, BART posts info.about outages of elevators and escalators.

MUNI patrons do not get the benefit of that information.

WHY?  Is there an assumption that all MUNI passengers have mobile access to the BART website? Or, does MTA believe all who have access needs know NOT to check the  MTA website but instead know to only go to the BART website?

Of course, there still are all the other, earlier equipment delays.

Remember, it took over one hour via MUNI to get to a nearby BART station. Is that any way to run a railroad?

Filed under: Bay Area / California