SPUR: How Will 1.7 Million More People Cross the Bay?
In the last century, visionary planners made major investments linking San Francisco and the East Bay. When the 20th century dawned, the only way to get from San Francisco to Oakland was by ferry. We built the Bay Bridge during the Great Depression and the BART tunnel in the early 1970s. It’s been nearly 40 years since then, and the Bay Area has grown by 2.7 million people. Yet we’ve added no new capacity. Even the new Bay Bridge, currently under construction, won’t help: It will be much more resilient to earthquakes, yet no bigger than the bridge it replaces.
SPUR’s first recommendation is to get more people on buses by building what would be a relatively cheap short-term solution: a contra-flow westbound bus lane on the Bay Bridge that would accommodate up to 10,000 new passengers an hour. Its second recommendation calls for incremental improvements to BART, including a better train control system along with trains that have more doors. The third is a long-term recommendation that would require big capital dollars: constructing a second transbay tube to boost BART’s capacity, and potentially accommodate high-speed rail.
The video is SPUR’s first entry into animation and video making. It’s a product of the organization’s 2009 project and report, “The Future of Downtown,” which focused on reducing job sprawl and strategies to expand job growth in San Francisco’s transit-rich downtown. It argued that downtown SF, namely SoMa, has “by far the greatest near-term potential to accommodate regional employment growth with a low carbon footprint.”
That means creating the right infrastructure for a mode shift that would get more Bay Area residents out of their cars, and commuting to work on transit. Of course, the big question is, how to you pay for this kind of new transportation infrastructure? SPUR says a future downtown with more jobs, especially “knowledge jobs,” would bring in more revenue streams for transit.
“We’re talking about facilitating the continued development of one of the most important economic nodes in the world, where future businesses are being created and where a lot of really important economic innovation is happening,” said SPUR Executive Director Gabriel Metcalf. “If you put it in that perspective, this is about wealth enabling infrastructure and there should be any number of ways into tapping into that wealth to pay for the infrastructure.”