Today’s Headlines

  • BART Transbay Tube Shutdown Goes Smoothly (ABC, SFGateChron); Ferry Ridership Doubles (SFBay)
  • Muni’s E-Embarcadero Streetcar Line Starts Service (SFBay)
  • SFCTA Unveils Chinatown Pedestrian Safety Upgrades in Neighborhood Transportation Plan (Examiner)
  • Recreation and Parks Department Asks Public to Weigh in on Panhandle Path Upgrades (Hoodline)
  • Video: Wiggle Bike Stop-In Rankled a Few Drivers (UA); Examiner Readers Debate Enforcement
  • Caltrain Hits, Kills Man Near 22nd Street Station Friday (KTVU, SFGate)
  • People Behaving Badly: Burlingame Drivers Routinely Stop on Caltrain Tracks
  • Caltrain Wants Input on Changes to Daily Schedule (Green Caltrain)
  • New York Times Looks at Efforts to Clean Up the Bay Area’s Mess of Disjointed Transit Agencies
  • SMART Will Bring North Bay Back to Its Roots: Rail Transit (SPUR)
  • To Study Corroding Bay Bridge Rods, Caltrans Appoints Experts Who Said They Were Fine (Chronicle)
  • Los Gatos Officials to Highway Drivers: Stop Using “Waze” App and Detouring on Our Streets (NBC, CBS)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

  • aslevin

    The Caltrain CAC discussion will be about the potential for pre-electrification schedule tweaks. The planning for post-electrification schedule will be later.

  • jonobate

    The quick-and-dirty solution to the Bay Area’s fractured transit system is simply to merge BART, Muni, and AC Transit. These three systems handle 80% of trips taken by transit in the Bay Area, and because BART overlaps with greatly with the two other agencies, many of the those trips are BART + Muni or BART + AC Transit. Merging them together would solve the bulk of the connectivity problems in one action.

    As a more comprehensive solution, I would group the existing services into the following two transit agencies:

    Bay Area Transit =

    Muni

    + BART

    + AC Transit as far south as Hayward

    + WestCAT

    + SamTrans as far south as the city of San Mateo

    + Golden Gate Transit & Ferries

    + SF Bay Ferry

    Silicon Valley Transit =

    VTA

    + Union City Transit

    + AC Transit in Fremont and Newark

    + SamTrans as far north as Belmont

    Caltrain, ACE and Capitol Corridor would remain independent, but would be overseen by a state-wide rail authority that would also oversee High-Speed Rail. This would promote co-ordination and compatibility between all standard-gauge rail services.

    The exurban bus services (County Connection, TriDelta, Wheels, Marin Transit) would also remain independent. These systems have very different service characteristics to the urban and suburban bus services listed above, acting mostly as lifeline services for travel within the exurban area, so there is no real need to integrate them with the metro transit agency, unless the cities in question decide they want to merge them in.

    Why the two different agencies, and why the dividing line at Hayward/Union City in the East Bay and San Mateo/Belmont on the Peninsula? We need to recognize that the Bay Area is really two metro areas positioned very close together – one centered around San Francisco, and one centered around San Jose. The vast majority of people work in their own metro area, and as transit is primarily a tool for getting people to work, that’s how we should define the transit agency boundaries.

    Looking at commute data, Hayward and San Mateo commuters (and commuters in other cities north of them) are more likely to head north to SF/Oakland. Union City and Belmont commuters (and commuters in other cities to the south of them) are more likely to heard south towards San Jose/Silicon Valley.

    There is of course large degree of overlap at the boundaries, with a fair amount of people in these suburbs liable to commute to the other metro area than the one they ‘belong’ to according to this definition; but if you have to draw a line, this is the logical place to do it. As with the boundaries between bus services today, there should be some overlap in the bus routes, e.g. ‘Bay Area Transit’ buses might go as far south as Redwood City, and ‘Silicon Valley Transit’ buses might go as far north as San Mateo.

    Politically, the decisions at each transit agency would be made by a board consisting of representatives appointed by the cities that make up the transit district. Each city would have representation on the board proportional to their population and fund the system proportional to their population. Cities that only have commute/long-distance service (i.e. just a BART station, no bus service) would get half the representation and pay half the funding.

    Anyway. Just my two cents 🙂

  • mx

    The most important part for me would be a unified zone fare structure. Go to Europe and you can ride all the subways, trains, metros, buses, etc… in a city with a single common ticket.

    I can’t tell you how often I see tourists trying to stuff BART tickets (because the machines are more numerous and prominent) into the Muni faregates downtown.

  • Gezellig

    As a GGT commuter I’m faced daily with the understandable confusion and frustration tourists experience when they stand out on the most prominent bus stop on the western edge of the Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza (stop C in attached diagram below), ask if the bus goes to Union Square or Fisherman’s Wharf, whip out the 3-day Muni pass they already paid $26 for and then are told “no that’s no good here, you either need to go to the Muni stop (“what’s that? and where is it?”) or it’ll be $5 each.”

    Even the ones that do speak English well understandably don’t usually get that Muni and GGT are totally separate transit agencies with their own totally different byzantine rules, regulations, and payments. And the Muni stop (Stop B in attached diagram) is not very evident at all nor is there clear signage at Stop C clarifying the confusing situation. “If you need to know, you already know” seems to be GGT/Muni’s assumption.

    Sometimes people argue because they think they’re being cheated or misunderstood (“but you see here I already have a pass!”).

    It’s disheartening to witness both empathetically from their perspective as someone who’s also been a tourist in various foreign lands as well as a commuter just wishing to get home and not witness the 5-minute + spectacle every day which could be totally avoided with better organization.

    By the way, this diagram below is only findable on a PDF in the bowels of the GGT website. Not easily searchable stuff even if you’re looking.

  • murphstahoe

    That’s nothing. I was on the 72X to Santa Rosa. Shortly after we crossed the bridge, the young man behind me said “Can you press the stop button, it doesn’t look like mine works”. I said “well, it’s not like we’re going to bypass the next stop – where are you trying to go”.

    He said “I wanted to get off at the bridge, just wanted to check it out before my flight home”.

    The next stop was Rohnert Park – 40 miles to the North. He didn’t seem to fazed by it even as we all tried to crowd source some way for him to make his flight. Eventually we tried to get him a cab from RP to San Rafael to get a Marin Airporter. Didn’t hear the end result.

  • jonobate

    That’s insane. Couldn’t the driver have made a quick unofficial stop at the next bus pad, so that the guy could get a bus back in the other direction?

    Once when taking a long-distance Virgin Trains service in the UK, a frail old lady sitting near me missed her stop at Milton Keynes because she wasn’t able to get up and to the door before it closed. I found the conductor and told him what had happened. He figured out that the local train she was trying to connect to (a London Midlands service) would also be stopping at Leighton Buzzard, which our train was scheduled to pass through but not stop at, so he arranged for our train to make a quick unofficial stop there so that she could pick up her train further down the line. Excellent customer service, and we still made it to London on time.

  • p_chazz

    Have you ever tried to reason with a GGT bus driver?

  • Gezellig

    Crazy!

    When I take the 101 Bus to the Sausalito area I often exit the bus at Spencer Ave/Monte Mar bus pad at the top of the hill and bike the rest of the way down. It’s a pretty good bus, but if you miss Spencer Ave/Monte Mar your next stop isn’t till all the way up in San Rafael:

    https://thegreatermarin.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/101-buses-example.jpg

    One day before the Monte Mar stop I pressed the next-stop request button, it dinged, and I got my things ready to go. I then noticed to my horror that the driver wasn’t slowing was about to hop right back on the freeway to San Rafael.

    I only had a split second to think but I stood up and said “excuse me but I requested this stop!” The driver then sheepishly admitted “oh I see that now sorry I was totally spaced out.” He pulled over on the side of the onramp and I awkwardly exited the onramp with my bike in tow.

    The thing is because the alert system isn’t very good on GGT (sounds are often very muted, the “NEXT STOP REQUESTED” notice often doesn’t appear for awhile even when you have pressed it) I only was able to make my stop because I knew that route back and forth and knew exactly what the driver should’ve been doing and where he should’ve been stopping.

    It’s totally understandable how someone unfamiliar with the system wouldn’t do that.

    And yes, sometimes the buttons just *don’t* work.

    What’s funny is the cons of GGT has (no realtime tracking, questionable next-stop alert system, lack of maps/signage even at key stops, lack of rear door usage) are areas where Muni is actually relatively strong.

  • mx

    A great example. And how do you think this feels to someone who is new to taking transit? If public transit is perceived to be complicated and hard to use (a not unreasonable perception around here), people aren’t going to try it out.

  • murphstahoe

    I take some issue with whomever tried to be clever and told him to take any GGT bus from the fidi to the bridge. Had they said the 4/27 that’s a huge percentage of all buses and has a lot of room for error.

  • Justin

    Maybe the city should also consider making Grant Ave in Chinatown completely car free, not only would that enhance pedestrian safety but it would also create more space for people, it’s so narrow for motor vehicles, making it a car free would beautify that area, create more space, enhance safety and make that street attractive to people and possibly enhancing the businesses there furthermore, just a suggestion though

  • Gezellig

    Exactly. For that particular stop it tends to be a lot of tourists who’ll be leaving SF soon anyway, but these kinds of situations do befuddle the potential repeat-customer average citizen, as well–and understandably so.

    Forget last mile and headway problems for a second:

    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/bay-area-transit.jpg

    The sheer balkanization of existing Bay Area transit *itself* is often flat-out hostile even to interested would-be riders who *want* to take it because in their case it happens to actually go where they want to go.

    That’s such low-hanging fruit to tackle.

  • AndreL

    You don’t need to merge agencies (a more difficult task) in order to have fare medium compatibility (probably in the form of a double smartcard or phone-app).

    London or the whole country of Netherlands, for instance, are examples of areas that have multiple transit operators, some private, some public, some hybrid, yet all using mutually compatible fare payment medium (Oyster and OV-Chipkaart, respectively) that allows easy travel.

  • Justin

    When it comes to consolidating transit agencies they can start by consolidating the transit agencies that do bus service in the east bay. To me there are too many agencies doing bus service for a region like that. Instead of having five different agencies providing bus service in various parts of the east bay with only two counties, there should only be one or two, AC Transit being one of them. The idea is that you would have one agency doing bus service in Alameda county that being AC Transit, and a new and consolidated agency providing bus service for Contra Costa County. It would be so much more simpler rather than having all these different agencies doing their own little thing within the same particular part of the Bay Area, in this case the East Bay were talking about here.

  • Andy Chow

    The 4 suburban agencies (County Connection, Tri Delta Transit, WestCAT, Wheels) all have their own service area (most are separated by hills) and generally not duplicative. So there’s not much benefit from merging.

    Coordination – Because these systems are generally well separated, there are only so much need for coordination. These systems however do coordinate with BART so that should be counted for something.

    Fare integration – these agencies still accept BART Plus tickets, which other agencies like AC Transit, Muni, and SamTrans no longer accept. There’s also a product called East Bay Value Pass which is a single monthly pass good for all 4 agencies.

    Doing their own little thing – If they all merged with AC Transit are you expecting a bus route from Brentwood running all the way to Transbay Terminal? Local routes serve local needs like schools and senior centers so at the end these little things matter.

  • Andy Chow

    May be a little information would help:
    http://www.transitunlimited.org/Golden_Gate_Bridge_toll_plaza

    PresidiGo Shuttle provides free service from Downtown to the Bridge with a transfer, which is a best kept secret.