Sunday, November 25, 2007

Livermore BART Extension

Driving home from Bakersfield today I was thinking about possible extensions to BART as I passed through Livermore. While I'm not sure expanding BART as a technology is a very smart idea because of expense, there are a few configurations where it might make sense. But might not. If you take a look at Pleasanton today, you'll notice that on the North side of Highway 580, there are some new very dense developments that might be well served by a good transit connection. You won't be able to see them on the aerial photo, but they are in the orange box below.

Planning for this extension has been on BART's mind for but studied seriously since at least 2003. The study initially looks at just going down the I-580 Median. Boooorrrrinnnggg and cheap. From the BART study done by Nelson Nygaard below...

The study also looks at connections to Walnut Creek, but we're going to focus on the Pleasanton area extension. Also, BART is building an infill station at Dublin. It's represented below as a black and white dot. The blue line is the Dublin/Pleasanton BART line which goes to SFO. The green line is the ACE commuter rail that goes to the Central Valley. This was also the route for the Altamont high speed rail alignment I believe.

But here are possible alignments. The yellow line is my favorite. It goes through the dense neighborhood being created to the north (orange box) and moves along vacant land that could be zoned for dense office and residential. It also passes the Livermore Airport, downtown livermore and gets right next to the Livermore National Labs facility which the north side of the station area could provide park and ride facilities for those driving over the Altamont who didn't use the ACE Train.

The red line uses the freeway until it gets to a crossover point. The cross over point allows the transit to move onto the ACE ROW and stop at stations up there. It along with the freeway median all the way out to Livermore plan are the cheap ways out. They might be cost effective but they do not provide opportunity for livable neighborhoods around the stations, since there is are 4 lanes of the freeway running on each side of the train. This will make the stations fairly auto/park n ride oriented. Also, if

Any thoughts? (The right side is cut off. Click on the picture to get a full view)



Eric said...

Interesting map. I admit that on the few occasions my mind has turned to the idea of Livermore BART, I've indulged in the same inside-the-box thinking that frustrates me about BART in general, i.e. a 580 median extension rather than something more creative. I wonder what the time difference would be between your yellow extension and the freeway median option.

Still, I don't really think these suburban BART extensions are the best use of funds. Sure, we're getting brand new riders, but we're not providing extra service to urban riders who are transit-dependent, or who at least ride transit frequently.

At this point, I think the only place in the Bay Area I personally would support more BART is in the urban core -- preferably under Geary, to complement the BRT lanes -- and standard gauge, please.

You raise a good point, though, about what to do with transit in this area. Are these new neighborhoods in Dublin and Pleasanton a lost cause in terms of sustainable living? Do you think that if TOD is sufficiently dense, a frequent but local transit option would be popular, if it connected to the current D/P BART terminus?

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

I don't know how often you go out there, but I think you'd be amazed at whats going on in that orange box I drew. I certainly was shocked at the densities that exist. It would have been nice if they just reserved a median ROW for future transit whether it be BRT or LRT. About 6 story midrise apartments or condos along an arterial parallel to 580.

As to a BART extension, perhaps it would work as a light rail connector between Walnut Creek and the end of my yellow line, stopping at the BART station. They want to make that connection at some point I believe.

Also, I completely agree with the Core. I often wish that the 24 freeway were bypassed and a subway ran under Broadway from Rockridge into downtown Oakland. Imagine what that would have done to the corridor. I really wish they would start talking about a Subway on Geary already.

Eric said...

Did you see the future BART scheme that was released earlier this year? A second transbay tube, and direct service to the new Transbay Transit Center, but then there was this crazy line under Folsom, north on Van Ness, and on Lombard. Once again, poor Geary is ignored.

I've had the same wishes as you about what BART could be like: subways under Geary and Van Ness in addition to Market and Mission, and in Oakland: Broadway, Telegraph, MacArthur, and East 14th -- a true metro, instead of this half-baked freeway median scheme we have now. The Bay Area would be a really different place.

I haven't been out to Dublin or Pleasanton in quite awhile. It might be interesting to check out the development that has been happening out there, as it sounds like it's denser than I've been envisioning. 6-story condos might give you a good critical mass of transit riders, if the service is convenient and frequent. I just can't help thinking that this will end up being one of those situations where you could provide service similar to or better than BART, but at much lower cost. And the transfer to BART could be made about as easy as a transfer within the BART system.

Steve said...

In looking at this I'm reminded of the ORIGINAL plan for the Dublin/Pleasanton BART extension. It was originally supposed to follow I580 with a station at Stoneridge, then follow I680 south along the east side of the freeway next to the canal. It would have then turned east past the fairgrounds and then followed the railroad tracks with a station in downtown Pleasanton. This would have had the added benefit of grade separating all of the major streets crossing the railroad tracks through downtown. It would then have followed the railroad tracks into downtown Livermore. This would have opened up a lot more possibilities than the current "in the median" BART route.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Do you have a picture of that Steve?

Steve said...

Unfortunately no. The reason I remember it is that I used to live in Pleasanton and I did a report on in in High School.

I just checked the MTC site ( and they do list the relevant report(s). It doesn't look like they're available on line but but they are shown as being in their library.

I believe the one I used for my report was the "Livermore-Pleasanton BART extension study : final report / prepared by Livingston and Blayney; De Leuw, Cather & Company."

Hope this helps.