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Bay Area think tank proposes "seamless" integration of local transit systems


SPUR, a San Francisco-based nonprofit planning organization, yesterday released a study suggesting ways to streamline the Bay Area's numerous transit options to make them more accessible to riders.

Titled, "Seamless Transit," the study proposed marketing all the Bay Area public transit services as one system to help travelers, with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission leading development of a region-wide transit map.

The study's authors also recommended standard fares across the agencies; developing transit hubs to ease transfers; using an integrated approach to transit network design; and using local, regional, state and federal funding programs as incentives for agencies to consider mergers.

"In many ways, having so many different transit systems makes it harder for riders to understand and use the services available to them," a report summary stated. "From divergent maps, schedules and fares to uncoordinated capital planning and investment, the fragmented nature of our transit system makes it less efficient, less usable and less likely to help us meet our goals for a thriving and sustainable region."

Despite the availability of more than two dozen transit operators in the region, only 3 percent of all trips are made using transit, according to the study. The authors attributed this to differing fare structures, difficulties transferring from one operator to another and lack of universal nomenclature among the agencies.

The Clipper fare payment system, which doesn't allow for mobile ticketing or the ability to add value to a card in real time, and duplicative services among certain transit corridors also are barriers to more widespread transit usage, the report said.

The region's rail transit options currently include Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, Municipal Railway services, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority's light-rail lines, and the Altamont Commuter Express.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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