by Alex Li, '21
The Bay Area has one of the most diverse public transportation systems in the world. On the plus side, such a system works decently well at meeting the needs of its local citizens. On the down side, the system is incredibly hard to navigate across systems, and across the bay. This is probably most clearly demonstrated by the fact that the Bay Area has no real unifying transportation diagram. I’m sure most of you have heard about BART and Caltrain, but fewer know about San Francisco’s robust Muni streetcars, or San Jose’s extensive VTA light rail.
The issues of creating a more unified Bay Area transportation network is much about creating a more seamless network and having agencies come together in planning the future of the Bay Area (I’m looking at you, Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)). However, a unified map can do wonders in the public perceptions of the system. After all, the transit map is often the first interaction you have with any rapid transit system. So I’ve put together a system map for the Bay Area:
As opposed to the current system map by the MTC (there’s a really good reason why this isn’t really used):
As you can see, the system is decently comprehensive (though broken up by many agencies). As the Bay Area increases in population, it is imperative that the system continues to move more people and improve its service. But it won’t move any more people unless people like opting to commute without a car. I’m not saying that cars are not useful or that they aren’t necessary, but rather, the more trips that are taken without a car, the more people the current system can move. In addition to getting 30 minutes on a bus/train for yourself, you also (generally) reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage denser urban land development, increase funding (and service improvements) to transit agencies and reduce the cost of your commute (in energy and in money).
So next time you leave campus, consider taking a trip without a car. Every trip saved is a walk, bike, and ride away to a more sustainable world! Happy commuting!
If you have any other questions, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org (or if you just want to chat about urban transportation systems).
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