SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF/BCN) — 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.

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It’s part of a partnership with Short Edition, the company that makes the dispensers and puts together the short stories, which are suitable for all ages.

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.

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.

According to BART, the director first learned of the company in The New Yorker and reached out; now he’s an investor.

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

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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.

BART said a fourth Short Edition kiosk is coming to the San Francisco Montgomery Street Station soon. The installation coincides with National Reading Month, and the one-year pilot is sponsored by BART’s Communications Department and its Art Program.

“The arts create memorable places and experiences,” said Art Program Manager Jennifer Easton in a statement on the BART website. “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.”


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