A report, titled “Seamless Transit,” calls for creation of an integrated transit system that makes it easier for existing and potential riders to navigate the Bay Area’s labyrinth of transit systems as if they were one.
(TNS) -- The Bay Area’s tangle of public transportation operators is proving to be an obstacle to getting more people to take or try transit, concludes a study to be released Tuesday.
While BART, Caltrain and Muni are bursting at the seams as the region and the economy grow, just 3 percent of Bay Area commuters take transit, and the fragmented nature of the transit system is partially to blame, the report says.
The report, from the regional urban think tank SPUR, calls for creation of an integrated transit system that makes it easier for existing and potential riders to navigate the Bay Area’s labyrinth of transit systems as if they were one.
Titled “Seamless Transit,” it is scheduled to be released in conjunction with a Commonwealth Club transportation summit attended by experts from major metropolitan areas Tuesday.
“The Bay Area used to be a leader in public transit,” said Ratna Amin, transportation policy director for SPUR and author of the report. “But even though we have many transit options available, they are not well coordinated.”
With more than two dozen operators, most of the nine-county Bay Area is served by transit. But it’s not always easy to figure out how to use multiple systems.
Aside from presenting a daunting array of names often unknown outside of their service areas, the collection of transit agencies presents a number of problems, including:
• There is a lack of information on how to make trips on multiple transit operators.
• Transfers between operators can be difficult.
• Fare structures are confusing and often offer financial disincentives for riders using more than one system. Different agencies have different types of fare systems “distance-based (BART), zones (Caltrain) or flat rates (Muni, AC Transit)” as well as different passes and different discounts for seniors, youths and disabled riders.
• Clipper has made it possible to navigate the region’s systems without a wallet full of passes and pockets filled with change, but its technology is limited. The regional transit smart card, for instance, lacks the ability to accommodate university-issued passes, mobile ticketing or special discounted fares for one-time events.
• The fragmented collection of agencies leads to gaps in the transit network in some areas and senseless duplication in others.
Past efforts at simplifying the Bay Area’s transportation network have focused on consolidating the number of transit operators, an approach that obviously hasn’t worked. While the report says fewer transit agencies would be better, it suggests other options, including a strong coordinating agency.
The report suggests helping travelers use transit by coordinating marketing and transit information including a common regional transit map. It also recommends standardizing fares, creating regional passes and modernizing the Clipper card, a process that’s already under way.
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