New state bill aims to integrate Bay Area transit into one 'seamless' system | News | Almanac Online |


New state bill aims to integrate Bay Area transit into one 'seamless' system

Assemblyman David Chiu proposes unified fares, transfers and maps for Bay Area's tangle of mass transit systems

A newly introduced piece of state legislation seeks to integrate the more than two dozen separate and independent Bay Area transit agencies into one "seamless" system.

Assembly Bill 2057 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, seeks to eliminate the barriers to ridership created by things like the differences in fare structures between systems, the uncoordinated schedules that can make transferring from one system to another an unreliable exercise in frustration, and the confusing muddle of transit maps that don't allow passengers to easily plan their trips when using multiple systems.

"This is about a future vision for the Bay Area," Chiu said at a Feb. 4 news conference at San Francisco's Salesforce Transit Center.

Currently, 27 different transit agencies run buses, trains and ferries in the nine-county region and each has its own fares, schedules, smartphone apps, discounts and planning processes.

This has led to a situation where, despite the region's horrendous traffic congestion and abysmal commute times, transit ridership actually dropped by 5.2 percent between 2016 and 2018, according to information from Chiu's office.

Initially, Chiu's bill would establish a universal bus fare, establish uniform transfer and discount policies for all bus systems, create a single Bay Area transit map, standardize apps and develop real-time transit information delivery to passengers.

It would also seek to create a taskforce charged with integrating fares and schedules across all systems as well as coordinating spending and project development.

BART Board Director Rebecca Saltzman, who represents parts of the East Bay, said her agency and the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit bus system have been working to coordinate schedules and fares, among other things, but such integration needs a more comprehensive approach.

"We need regional leadership and regional funding because one or two transit agencies can't do this alone," Saltzman said.

She noted that the housing crisis has resulted in people moving farther from their jobs in the Bay Area's urban employment centers in order to find affordable homes, longer commutes have created a regional traffic nightmare and more cars on the freeways means more severe climate impacts.

"This is the time for public transit to shine," Saltzman said.

The bill could get a hearing in the Assembly Transportation Committee this spring.

— Bay City News Service

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8 people like this
Posted by janet
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 10, 2020 at 12:11 pm

It is about time that the various transit agencies are integrated. there is a lot of duplication and waste of resources. Samtrans in particular is poorly run. Many buses are empty, do not go where people need to go at times they need to go and there is virtually no east/west routes. At the very least Samtrans and VTA need to be coordinated and have somebody efficient who understands transportation management. This is totally lacking at the moment.

11 people like this
Posted by Sounds good
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 10, 2020 at 2:57 pm

How about standardizing all of the rail systems to be able to run on the same tracks? A long and expensive project, but logical...

6 people like this
Posted by Bigtuna
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Feb 10, 2020 at 3:38 pm

Yet another big government ploy from a big government San Francisco politician. All this will do is take away local control and create more bureaucracy that we have to pay for, Do we really want State politicians setting local bus fares? According to this article that’s what we’d get.

9 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 11, 2020 at 8:24 am

I say it’s about time ! All road and transit solutions in the Bay Area are really regional. You can’t fix transportation city by city and county by county., despite endless claims that “we could just fix Menlo Park’s problems if ..” Unless we work on transit at a regional level, we’re going to feed money to endless local pet projects and redundant routing, without much regional improvement in return. One only has to look at crazy persistence of the statistically unused Atherton CalTrain station or the side-effects of the “traffic calming” via the neck down of El Camino through Menlo Park to see how foolish we can be when we optimize for local outcomes.

12 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 11, 2020 at 10:13 am

This is long overdue. Most major metropolitan areas have consolidated services, and some even overlap state boundaries.

Wouldn't it make sense to be able to circumnavigate the Bay on one transit system (rail or bus or both). Other places have figured out how to make it work -- maybe we should look at best practices from around the country and incorporate them here.

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