Recently, I ran across an old 1993 copy of Bart’s “Guide to Public Transportation From Bart” buried in a closet in my house. I would have been three years old at the time this map was published, so I can’t exactly bring much experience to the table as to what transit was like in 1993. But, from a 2009 perspective, there’s a lot of interesting stuff in these maps–AC Transit only ran four Transbay routes, Bart still had commuter buses, and transit agencies actually had money and ran a lot more bus routes. It’s also notable that there is hardly any mention of Caltrain, the Peninsula, and the South Bay.
Check out the links below to big scans of the maps:
16 years later, how far have we come, and how far do we still have to go?
Bart has spent a whole lot of money on its Dublin-Pleasanton, North Concord/Pittsburg-Bay Point, and SFO/Millbrae extensions, but these extensions have really not had much of an effect on promoting transit-oriented development or improving ridership–the Dublin-Pleasanton station has attracted a decent number of riders, but required a costly 12.5 mile extension for just two stations, North Concord/Martinez, San Bruno, and South San Francisco make up three of the five lowest ridership stations in the Bart system (under 3,000 daily riders), and Millbrae has attracted only 25% (4,150) of its projected 16,500 riders by 2010. Meanwhile, some of the fastest growing stations in the Bart system in the last decade–MacArthur, Lake Merritt, 16th & Mission, and Balboa Park–have received hardly any investment for much-needed capacity and station access improvements, and Bart’s stations in Downtown San Francisco have continued to be at capacity with no signs of relief. No infill stations have been built within the gaps in the urban core, and system compatibility has worsened (the guide explains how Bart riders get a 25 cent transfer credit to cover half of most bus agencies 50 cent fare; 16 years later, the transfer credit remains 25 cents while fares have skyrocketed to $2).
It’s interesting to note that after over a decade, Bart is considering getting back into the commuter bus business as a cheaper alternative to the Livermore and eBart extensions. It seems like Bart is slowly realizing that it can’t just burn money anymore like it has the past 15 years, and in this disastrous financial environment, it is going to have to reconsider some of its worst cost-benefit projects (it might be too late for the OAC, however). One thing that Bart does have going for itself is the branding, so getting back into the commuter bus business with nice, wifi-enabled buses could really be a great asset for Bay Area transit.
In the end, while transit agencies in 1993 had a lot more money for more bus routes and big extensions, we really didn’t get a whole lot out of the past 16 years. Nevertheless, we can count on these maps looking a whole lot different 16 years from now in 2025, with high speed rail, Caltrain electrification, East Bay BRT, Geary and Van Ness BRT, Smart, Bart to San Jose (if built by 2025?), and numerous other projects which will better tie in the Peninsula and the South Bay into the rest of the Bay Area. I think we have also seen a shift in transportation planning from access to performance, given the emphasis now on capturing a greater mode share and improving efficiency versus serving the greatest land area. While this shift has improved overall service, it hasn’t been great for low-density, transit-dependent, low-income communities (see Richmond’s transit network in 1993 vs. 2009).
Anyway, looking through these maps was an insightful window into the past, and I highly recommend that you check them out. Enjoy!