If you live in the East Bay, sometimes you can run into a bit of a problem when enjoying a late night in San Francisco. BART, the non-car solution to that big thing of water that’s in your way, stops operating at a certain point in the night. But good(-ish) news! There’s a bus.
The pros, of course, are that you can get where you need to go. The AC Transit 800 runs only during hours when BART is not in service, and can take you all the way from Market and Van Ness to Downtown Richmond. There are other connecting buses that can take you to other East Bay destinations.
The con is that you get to all these destinations on a bus generally following the BART corridor. So it’s like taking a really slow BART train with frequent stops, traffic lights, and a high coefficient of crazy. And if you have to transfer, then may God help your attention span deficient soul! Transfers between late night lines can take up to an hour.
Weekend nights are a little more sane, since the bus makes a sweep down market street every half hour and most passengers were just out partying in the city. Weeknights are another story. The bus only comes once an hour, forcing you to wait among chatty homeless people along a mostly deserted Market Street. These kinds of situations will only escalate once you step on the bus, because this is the kind of bus where you are bound to have at least one… interesting fellow traveler.
Last Tuesday, this came in the form of a man asking me if I had “one of those phone clock things.” He’s shirtless but wears a tattered vest with a purple toothbrush poking out of one of the pockets. I tell him that it’s 2:15 AM, and he thanks me by giving me a vinyl of the Tubes’ 1975 single “White Punks on Dope.” I then tell him that I can’t accept this gift, but he insists I take it. He then goes on to tell me about how he’s going to Hayward to propose to some girl he doesn’t know, but who has a nice ass. But before he does that he has to buy flowers for her and get permission from her father. “I don’t know,” he said, realizing how much he had to do. “She is kind of a bitch.”
Four dollars to get home, a conversation, and a free piece of vinyl. Maybe I got more. I got one of those beautiful moments where all kinds of humans will lovely and oddly shaped energy fields come together and have a collective experience, in isolation.
Forget biking through Thailand in order to find yourself. Just ride the 800 every night. You will be inspired and confused a lifetime over.
AC Transit All Nighter 800
Leaves from the corner of Van Ness and Market
Every hour on the hour, half hour on weekends
Four dollars, clipper accepted