Sunday, January 13, 2008

Thinking Big: The Next Bay Area Project

I know that BART to San Jose is in the pipeline and as usual it wasn't planned to serve people but to be cost effective. This means that it goes where no one is along available ROW and skips major employment centers except Downtown San Jose. You would have thought that we might have learned something from the planning of BART in Oakland and Berkeley but apparently not.

But that isn't what i really wanted to talk about. I have a new idea for the Bay Area's newest New Start/Transit Project. I'd like to call it the Subway to the Sea 2, Urban Core Capacity Enhancement. The title is a nod to the Subway to the Sea bubbling up in LA and the New Jersey Access to the Core tunnel under the Hudson. If we're going to densify the bay area further, we need more of a metro system along major corridors. We need to be cost effective, so we should start with a corridor that would generate a lot of new ridership. So how about we build a line between the beach and downtown on Geary, build the new trans-bay tube that's been planned, and build up Broadway in Oakland to Rockridge and Berkeley under the 51 line.

Current ridership in this corridor is 56,000 for Geary and 18,600 boardings on the 51. This means that if everyone changed modes (which we know there still has to be a surface bus line for shorter trips) there could be about 80,000 riders. Given the speed of the new line and convenience it could increase ridership to way over 100,000 a day just on the line. This is a third of BART's ridership. Now the line is 19 miles from Berkeley to the Sea along the route I mentioned.

Now the line wouldn't just generate a lot of ridership, but it would generate a lot of new TOD, Office and Residential. In Oakland on Broadway, there would be a surge in new development along the corridor between College Avenue and Downtown. It's possible to capture a lot of the office and residential markets and take some pressure off of the outer sprawling suburbs. It will also take pressure off of the almost at capacity Transbay Tube.

Another feature of this would be the tunnel under the bay. it should be designed to be dual mode so that Caltrain/HSR could go to Oakland, Emeryville, and/or Jack London Square. That way Caltrain could extend into downtown and across the bay to Emeryville and possibly beyond making a connection between the jobs there and Silicon Valley (Yellow). It's possible to electrify the line all the way up to Martinez making commutes from around the horn easier with new stations in North Richmond and Hercules. It might also provide a way to keep trains away from Jack London which has had some issues with accidents. It would be a big project and more than likely cost a lot of money, but it will also be a huge ridership generator. Not only will you get over 100,000 from the subway alone, there will be the tens of thousands that want to get across the bay with a one seat ride to Emeryville and Jack London Square.



Eric said...

Caltrain into Emeryville... hmm... that should help Ikea expand their north Peninsula consumer base. They didn't pay you off to make this map, did they?? :-)

As for the Geary half, the situation is even rosier than you painted it. A Geary subway would, for sure, draw riders away from Muni lines 1, 2, 3, 4, 31, probably even the 5, in addition to the 38/38L -- not to mention the rush hour express buses. Adding those in, and you've got at least 110K riders in the Richmond District corridors alone.

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

Haha. Yeah Ikea is my biggest customer! But seriously, it would be the first step in a larger electric east expansion. But its a logical connection given the huge business base there that includes; Pixar, Peets Coffee HQ, Leapfrog Ind, Chiron Biotech, Electronic Arts. The daytime work population is over 20,000 even though the population is only 9,000.

Yeah with Geary, you're right, the parallel lines would bring more riders because people would walk to BART stations versus waiting for every stop on each of those bus routes. The same could probably be said for a few lines that parallel the 51 in places too. However as we know, the idea isn't to replace the bus lines, but rather augment them. The service along them is obviously important, but there is a great need for more rapid transit service.

Jarrett Mullen said...

I love the idea! This would be a great starter line for an oakland/ San francisco metro system that would surely generate engough momentum to push for expansion. One thing though, I dont think the equipment should be related to BART. A system like this should use standard gauge lower volume subway cars.

Anonymous said...

As an added bonus, this tunnel can be built as a light rail tunnel, rather than BART. That way, you can run the line on surface trackage on the outer ends, and reduce the amount of tunneling needed, at least initially. And it would link San Francisco's light rail network to a potential network across the bay in Oakland. And yes, the ridership on the SF end is going to be pretty high if you consider the Muni routes parallel to Geary too.