Andrew Graham, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sonoma County will pilot a new $6 million effort to develop a unified mapping system that will help commuters better navigate the Bay Area’s 27 public transit systems, beginning in 2024.
The goal is to develop digital and physical maps and a wayfinding system that would provide uniform signage, information about walking distances, along with shuttle options between bus stops, train stations and ferry terminals.
The unified regional mapping system was one of 27 recommendations made by a task force convened to encourage riders’ return to public transportation as COVID-19 restrictions on social gathering and office work have been relaxed.
The task force was formed in 2020 by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the government agency that oversees transportation planning in the Bay Area.
Design and installation of the new system is scheduled to begin in early 2024. The initial roll out will include new signs and physical maps. The system is to begin with transit locations in Sonoma County before expanding into Solano County and then the rest of the Bay Area.
Sonoma County is a good place to start the project because it is an example, on a small scale, of the challenges of navigating disparate public transit systems, commission spokesperson John Goodwin told The Press Democrat on Wednesday. Sonoma County has different bus systems in its various cities, in addition to the Sonoma County Transit system and the Sonoma Marin Area Regional Transit System passenger train.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-county-to-play-host-to-start-of-6-million-effort-to-unify-maps-of-b/
Mallory Moench, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
At 3:15 every weekday morning, Richard Burnett leaves his house in Vallejo for the 45-minute walk to the downtown bus station. Two buses and a train later — all run by different agencies, with different schedules and different fares racking up — he’s at his job in San Francisco an hour before clocking in.
Eight working hours later, he turns around and does the whole thing over again. He gets home by 7:30 p.m., eats and goes straight to bed.
“If you live that far, you have to do that sacrifice to make it work,” said Burnett, a customer service representative for a tech company who endures the six-hour commute because he can’t afford both a car and rent. “There’s no time to do anything else.”
Burnett, who advises the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Bay Area’s transit coordinating agency, on policies affecting low-income and disabled riders, dreams of express buses to main job centers and fares based on zones that would make traveling cheaper. But that would require what Burnett calls the “fiefdoms” of Bay Area’s 27 transit agencies — encompassing buses, cable cars, trains and ferries that stretch across nine counties — to agree on changes.
The pandemic, which created an existential crisis for Bay Area public transportation, has reignited a long-running debate over how to make the system better and who should control it. Each of the agencies now sets its own fares and schedules. Few other U.S. metropolitan areas have such vast and disjointed transit: Los Angeles County, smaller in size but larger in population, has nearly the same number of agencies, but only one county transportation authority.
Continue reading “Bay Area transit can be a complex, costly ‘nightmare.’ The pandemic might help fix that”