Presumably denizens of Powell Street BART, the staff of the Chronicle is officially hip to a transportation hack they're dubbing "Upstreaming." That refers to the practice of riding trains back a few stops the opposite direction of your commute in order to snag a comfy cloth or vinyl seat on a less crowded train headed in the right direction.
It makes sense: Average weekday BART ridership reached 441,000 in October and in the past two years transbay ridership has increased 12%, creating the phenomenon of upstreaming from the most crowded stops at Embarcadero and Montgomery during evening rush hour, as we noted earlier. "As BART ridership grows — but without the agency’s fleet growing in turn — so do the ranks of the upstreamers," says the Chron while admitting that "most practitioners don’t have a name for the technique," which BART usually refers to as "backriding." According to the paper, popular upstream points include Pleasanton, Fremont and Downtown SF with Civic Center a good spot to grab a mostly empty Transbay Tube-bound train.
But there's a catch, or a catch-22: "Of course, as more people ride upstream, it becomes harder for others to obtain a seat without doing the same thing," the Chron explains, "It’s a rush for the back of the line." Will, in other words, upstreamers just get one-upstreamed?
BART's an overtaxed system and, if there isn't any way to "beat" it, there are certainly ways to "game" it. So, here are a few BART hack trend pieces you can expect to see from Bay Area news outlets in the near future.
"Hoppers:" An elite group of BART pros who, due to crowdedness or unsavory activity in one car, stealthily hop to another car, via the platform, at certain stations.
"Betweeners:" The Green Berets of BART, these riders flout rules and move between cars as BART is moving!
"Bikers:" To save time during their overall commute and diminish their carbon footprint, these bicyclists also enjoy added space and something to lean on.
"Timed Transferers:" These forward-thinkers can sense that their current train will align with the train they'd like to transfer to. Then, at the right moment, they just walk across the platform.
"Sleepers:" The folks who show up early for limited BART parking and snooze in their cars for a few hours before catching their train.
"Chargers:" The brave, desperate souls who take advantage of the power outlets located under the 3rd or 4th seat in the middle of each BART car.