They say that no two subways are alike. Wait, that’s snowflakes, but it’s mostly true for transit systems as well. If you look at the Metro and BART on scaled maps, for comparison, they’re fairly similar in size. More so, due to the concurrent construction dates, they use similar cars and similar farecards and fare structures. But, BART’s got it over WMATA in a few ways:
No carpet on the floors. They use a skidproof flooring on all their cars, so when you hop on a train car, you’re not greeted with the delightful smell of carpet mold. While Metro’s experimenting with a non-carpet floor, it’s going to be a while before we see it.
Audible Train Speakers. You never have to guess at what’s being said on a BART car. The drivers not only repeat themselves, they have powerful speakers in each car, which will cut through even the ubiquitous headphones.
Well Lit Stations. Even the underground stations of BART are much better lit than the cavernous and dark Metro stations.
Better WEE-Z Bond System. Yes, BART shares the same train presence indication system, but due to their finding the WEE-Z Bond problem in the 80s, they managed a system built around never losing trains. Why Metro didn’t follow? No idea.
10 Car Trains
Sure, they don’t run all the time, but the flexibility to have 10-car trains in the busiest time of day is pretty awesome.
It’s not all puppies and flowers on BART, though, here’s a few ups that WMATA still has:
Where’s My Smartrip?!
Municipal Transit in SF works on a totally different ticketing system as BART, which means that the buses and streetcars and trams are on a totally different fare system than BART. They’re working on it, but it’s a giant pain in the ass.
Okay, yeah, it’s still a subway
Given SF’s problem with transient population, it’s still pretty rough in places, with smells that are…well…fragrant.