These Bay Area teens travel Northern California using only mass transit — and always get home on time

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              You can hear them call the boards of BART and SFMTA to help restore pre-pandemic services, or catch them with the announcement of Caltrain's new electrified trains.

So on the first day of the Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit service, they boarded the first bus and glide down a dedicated red carpet lane speeding Muni buses.

And at the new Yerba Buena/Moscone station, we could see the first Muni trains on the first weekend when the new Central Subway opened to the public.

The group of young riders has organically formed on Twitter in 2021 and is made up of more than 20 mostly Bay Area residents from high school and college. As fewer people use transit to commute, and transit is fighting for survival, Transit Twitter Besties take trains and buses every day, helping the region’s struggling transit system. is greatly supported.

Groups of teenagers scattered throughout the Bay Area, now attending college and scattered in other cities across the continent, have one thing in common. It’s that I love riding Bay Area public transportation and want to see it. Improve and thrive.

The group was named by Ethan Miji, a 21-year-old college student from South San Francisco. The formation happened organically on Twitter, home to a dedicated community of Bay Area public transit enthusiasts and critics. That’s when Mizzi sent a message to another of his best friends in Oakland, Fern Hahn. Hahn had just posted a map they drew showing the Bay Area’s sprawling, integrated single train system that Mizzi admired.

A BART wayfinding map of the Bay Area Rail Service from SFO, with a design inspired by Transit Twitter Besties member Fern Hahn of Auckland.

Fern Hahn

From there, the group expanded to include dozens of Bay Area teenagers who had discovered communities on BART trains and transit in remote parts of Northern California.
“What was really cool was meeting so many other people with similar interests,” Mizzi said. “We’ve made all these connections with really cool people who really care about transit.”
Some of the biggest Transit Twitter Besties adventures to date – where a group of them wake up before sunrise to catch the first 5am BART train of the day – span Modesto to the east, Santa Cruz to the south, and It took me to Lake County and Humboldt County. .

Both of these weekend trips were completed in one day and were entirely public transport. Bestie Hayden Miller, her 17-year-old junior at San Francisco’s Lowell High School, said the group had to get stuck, call an Uber, and call parents to bail out. said never.
“I’m very proud of it,” said Miller, who began riding the Muni alone in fifth grade for the first time.
There was also a close call.
A delay on the Dial-a-Ride short-distance bus nearly jeopardized the connection from Pescadero to Half Moon Bay. So the group planned to take local transit back to the Bay Area.

En route to Ayrton, a small town in the Sacramento Delta, the group waited three hours before catching the last bus back to Sacramento and one of the last trains on the Capitol Corridor back to the bay.
Yet through NorCal’s backcountry adventures, Miller and the Besties have gained a candid view of how essential public transportation is to communities and economies.
“There are a lot of places that are car-centric, but there is still demand[for transportation]and there are still people everywhere on these buses, and it’s really nice to see that,” Miller said. says.

Photo of the Yosemite Area Regional Transit Systems bus from one of our Transit Twitter Besties adventures.
Photo of the Yosemite Area Regional Transit Systems bus from one of our Transit Twitter Besties adventures.

Hayden Miller

The Transit Twitter Besties fanaticism is well-known among the region’s top transit bosses, some of whom know Besties by their first name.

BART’s chief communications officer, Alicia Trost, first noticed Besties because they continued to tweet, tagging BART’s popular Twitter account. Later, she saw some of them at a BART station during a public event. Late one night, she joined a “Twitter Space” hosted by some of her Besties and was bombarded with questions about service plans and her BART’s outdated directions, so their knowledge and enthusiasm for transportation I was surprised by

The agency took some of that feedback to heart. Inspired by Hahn’s map design, BART recently rolled out a new linework map at San Francisco International Airport. This gives riders a better idea of ​​where they are going. New maps will also debut at Millbrae, Montgomery and MacArthur stations.

Trost said the improvement in directions would not have happened without the acceptance of younger riders.
“They’re a group that has traditionally been neglected, even though they make up a significant percentage of our passengers,” Trost said. I am going to rely on

Traffic frenzy among young riders is nothing new for the Bay Area, which has one of the most robust transportation systems in the country. Generations of kids who grew up in the area have grown accustomed to riding the BART, Muni and Caltrains. Studies show that exposure to transportation at an early age fosters lifelong riding habits. However, the age of Twitter and social media has provided a platform for young riders to meet, organize and forge new friendships.
“As a community, we’re always there for each other, not just on the bus together once a month,” Miller says. “We’ve become really good friends and we care about each other. That part is something I really appreciate.”
It’s unclear what the future holds for Transit Twitter Besties. Some of the besties have gone on to college outside of the Bay Area. However, many of them would probably like to pursue a career working in the local public transportation system. By then, a new generation of Besties may be scrambling to explore the region in transit and catch the last train home.

Ricardo Cano is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ByRicardoCano

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