Read all about it! BART stations tout touchless dispensers for free flash fiction

A customer at Café Zoetrope uses a Short Story Dispenser (Image by Olivier Alexandre/Short Edition; via www.bart.gov)

Looking for something to read on BART?

The transit agency has installed dispensers at the Richmond, Fruitvale and Pleasant Hill stations that spit out short stories for free. It’s part of a partnership with Short Edition, the company that makes the dispensers and puts together the short stories. According to BART officials, a dispenser will also be installed at the Montgomery Street station soon.

The kiosks are like vending machines for creative writing, dispensing stories on eco-friendly recyclable, receipt-like paper. They’re touchless; you just hover your finger over the button to get your story. The stories take less than 5 minutes to read.

The arts create memorable places and experiences,” said BART Art Program Manager Jennifer Easton.  “The opportunity to bring micro fiction into BART, providing creative moments as part of the transit experience, is even more compelling as the Bay Area emerges from the pandemic.”

Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola is a fan of the dispensers. The first one in the United States was at his Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco’s North Beach.

“I read about it and thought it was a wonderful idea,” Coppola told BART. “Art dispensed by machine, and for free.”

Once the pilot program is fully up and running, BART will create opportunities for local writers to have their work featured in the dispensers.

Coppola said that writers interested in submitted stories should make them personal. “Have a theme or point you need to express, and enjoy writing it,” he said.

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