BART tests new cell phone program

May 12, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
BART is trying to make it easier for people to find out when their train is coming and more importantly, if there is a delay. Riders can now sign up for a test program that sends alerts to cell phones.

Along with coffee and a croissant, you can now get train arrival times at three shops all within a stones throw of the Rockridge BART Station.

"Before you run ahead to BART and then have to wait on the platform, it's here where you need your information as you're walking towards BART," said BART Director Bob Franklin.

Franklin says Rockridge riders asked for an arrival times screen like the ones on the platform, down on the street level below, but he says those cost $40,000, while a computer and screen are a lot less.

"This was the number one thing on the BART passenger wish list. They wished they had the information before they went to the BART station. So here is where they need it," said Franklin. "It's handy on the BART platform, but this is where you need it."

BART paid for the equipment at these three shops as a test and now they're hoping shop owners across the BART system will take it upon themselves to do the same.

High gas prices have contributed to BART's new record-high ridership 360,000 passengers a week.

Those with a cell phone, PDA or computer email can now get another new BART service, automatic text alerts, when service is disrupted.

"Let me know what's going on with BART service. If you get nothing, you know BART service is fine and hopefully you'll be getting a whole lot of nothing. Then if there is something that happens, like a 10 minute delay, Pittsburg-Bay Point train delay you'll get a notification," says BART Spokesman Linton Johnson.

BART riders can customize the service to send alerts only during specific time periods. Johnson says this is the test-phase, but feedback will make it better.

"We anticipate there are going to be some problems with it because it's new and we're looking for feedback. So we want people to let us know what they like and don't like," says Johnson.

The service is free and users can sign up at the BART website.
www.bart.gov


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