Culture, Satires

Survey: What Are You Doing on BART?

What exactly do people do when they are riding BART?

To save you the trouble of counting for yourself, ace reporter Luke Hauser recently conducted a secret scientific survey of over 1000 BART riders to see exactly what they were doing on BART.

Here’s a synopsis, with the numerical tallies below.

In a sign of the times, half or more were doing something with their phones. In addition to 7.5% (83 people) listening to audio and 16 people trying to carry on a conversation, 489 (44%) were fiddling around with a touch-screen device. We could see a variety of uses: facebook, newsgroups, web pages, text (perhaps a book?), maps – and of course endless digital games.

Surprisingly few kids – 13 out of over 1000 riders.

Reassuring to see that only two out of over 1000 people were acting in a manner that disturbed other riders. Twice that many were working old-school crosswords.

25 people were working diligently on laptops. On the other hand, 36 were napping or meditating.

Nine percent (101) were reading paper. Virtually all of these were reading books, and most of those seemed to be novels. A few people read magazines. The few who read old-style newspapers seemed like the sort of folks who might cling to older ways in other parts of their lives as well. (Note – up to the mid-2000s, BART was littered with newspapers, and reading them was probably the highest rated activity among riders.)

About 12% (132) were talking to someone besides themselves – slightly fewer than the number (159) who seemed simply to be spacing out.

A few stray notes: one person drawing in a sketchbook; three people knitting or doing needlepoint; one biting fingernails; one being a cop; and one taking a survey of what other riders were doing.

TOTAL = 1095

– fiddle with phone/palm device- 489 = 44%

– space out – 159 = 14%

– talk to someone besides themselves – 132 = 12%

– listen to music/audio – 83 = 7.5%

– read – 101 = 9% – almost entirely books – few kindles

– nap/meditate – 36 = 3%

– work/write/laptop – 25 =

– try to talk on phone – 16

– be a kid – 13 – one kid out of first 300+ people

– eat – 6

– video – 5 – ie, watch video on phone or laptop

– chew cud – 5 – or possibly gum

– put on makeup/haircombing – 5

– do crossword on paper – 4

– knit/needlepoint – 3

– act in disturbing manner – 2

– act oddly but bother no one else – 1

– take survey of other riders – 1

– roll cigarette – 1

– smoke weed inside car – 1

– draw – 1

– be a cop – 1

– panhandle on train – 1

The margin of error is +/- 4.3%, depending on how distracted we were.

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