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Can Marin Transit Close the Shuttle Gaps?

Marin Transit operates nearly 20 local bus, shuttle, and rural routes around Marin County, serving nearly all inhabited communities in the county. However, in their latest Short-Range Transit Plan, I have noticed that it has still not addressed the key issues of significant service gaps, particularly:

  • Areas south of Paradise Cay in East Corte Madera (along Paradise Drive towards Tiburon)
  • East of the Montecito Shopping Center (the Loch Lomond and Peacock Gap areas) in San Rafael
  • Areas east of US-101 in Novato (particularly the Bel Marin Keys, Black Point, Green Point, and Bahia areas)

I would like to see those service gaps be closed with frequent regular service that allows riders to get to wherever they want, whenever they need the service.

The first, and possibly the most visible, gap is east of Downtown San Rafael, particularly along Point San Pedro Road towards the Loch Lomond and Peacock Gap communities, called the Peacock Gap Line. Previously, Golden Gate Transit operated Route 32 as a commuter service between Peacock Gap and San Francisco, before the same route was downgraded to become a commuter shuttle, and then finally eliminated around 2005 or 2006. I have devised several ideas on how to restore — and possibly expand — service in the area. Instead of just focusing on Peacock Gap, I would let a shuttle service run through the hilly communities north of Point San Pedro Road to include service to Peacock Gap Golf Course, Glenwood Elementary School, and additional service to San Rafael High School. The advantage of this line is that it will close a significant transit gap that would encourage more people who travel locally to have a choice to either drive towards Downtown San Rafael or take a shuttle and walk up a few blocks toward Fourth Street. A key issue, though, in this case, is enough funding and potential ridership needed to implement such service again to the area. While taking a taxi from San Rafael Transit Center to either Loch Lomond or Peacock Gap can be expensive, having a transit service will hopefully cut down congestion along Point San Pedro Road while expanding and improving connectivity options in the area.
The next several routes involve services in Novato, where in at least three areas, transit service gaps are evident, namely Black Point, the Bahia District, and areas south and west of Novato Boulevard. Although services are provided by the Novato Dial-a-Ride, I believe that frequent, reliable, and accessible transit services that focus on Downtown Novato and Vintage Oaks Shopping Center would improve and enhance transit connectivity within the city.

The first shuttle line I would like to propose is a line that would eventually connect Downtown Novato with Black Point and the Bahia District via Olive Avenue (east of Redwood Boulevard), Atherton Avenue, and Bugeia Lane. Not only it will close another significant transit gap in eastern Novato, but it will also for the first time, provide a direct service from Black Point and Bahia to Downtown Novato, albeit in a counterclockwise loop. This line could also have a clockwise service should demand is justified for such service. With this line, it will eventually connect with the Highway 101 corridor routes 70, 71, 80, and 101 that will eventually bring riders further north to Santa Rosa and further south towards San Francisco and the East Bay. The main disadvantage, though, for starting this service is funding since the priority of Marin Transit has been for funding the Novato Dial-a-Ride service, and I don’t fully know how much more funding may be needed to be reallocated for starting this line.

The second shuttle line in Novato that I would like to propose is an expansion of the San Marin service (via Center Road), wherein while it is served by Routes 49 (49K on the weekends and holidays) and 51, the transit coverage west of Novato Boulevard still lacks service, especially on Center Road, Wilson Road, Vineyard Road, Sutro Road, and Simmons Lane, which also serves Sinaloa Middle School, Pleasant Valley Elementary School, and the Novato Senior Center (on DIablo & Hill Roads). This line will offer an alternative route to direct Routes 49 and 51, which will also serve Hill Road, San Marin High School, Simmons Lane, and Virginia Avenue before proceeding back to Downtown Novato. An alternative of this route could be serving Marion Avenue instead of Virginia Avenue, which would then use Vallejo Avenue to access Redwood & Grant. Another alternative could be using Arthur Street to serve Novato High School directly instead of meandering along Washington Street at the back portion of the high school to get more students. Still another alternative could be operating the service further south along Wilson Avenue and using Mill Road to access even more residences on the hillsides (an issue could be positioning the Sinaloa Middle School stop).

Again, with the above route, this line could also operate a counterclockwise service should service be justified to add such services. A possible modification for this line would be “interlined” (meaning this route can be operated along with another route with a same terminal) with the Bahia Route and vice versa to save operating costs while providing a larger and more extensive coverage area for Novato residents. 

The final, and possibly, the most interesting route, would be a service that would connect Ignacio and Stafford Lake. I understand that it would be quite a waste of money to serve Stafford Lake because there is not enough ridership to serve the area; however, I see possibilities and opportunities to make this service viable with direct services to Downtown Novato and Vintage Oaks Shopping Center (with a possible extension to Sutter Novato Medical Campus). Another significant difference for this route would be how the shuttle will serve Downtown Novato and Ignacio; in Downtown Novato, I will operate the bus in a one-way loop (serving the northbound stop only at Redwood & Grant) to serve Grant Avenue, Machin Avenue (or Reichert Avenue), and De Long Avenue. In addition, instead of using South Novato Boulevard, it will use Redwood Boulevard (currently only served by Route 58), while between Vintage Oaks and Ignacio, it will use Highway 101 to simplify service, and instead of using Novato Boulevard and Grant Avenue, it will use Diablo Avenue and Center Road to serve even more residents. In addition, I have been debating on the span of service for this route: either weekends and holidays only to take advantage of riders heading towards Stafford Lake, or daily (with a division point at either Vintage Oaks or Redwood & Grant) so that people can use it as part of their commute or as a way to access shopping areas, hospitals, and other attractions in the city.
Westbound to Stafford Lake
Eastbound to Vintage Oaks and Ignacio
Finally, I would really like to address the long-running issue on how to connect the Tiburon Peninsula (including Belvedere) and the rest of Marin County, called the Paradise Drive Line. I would keep the connection to Strawberry, sure, but I think a better idea would be to connect the interior of the Tiburon Peninsula, particularly along Via Capistrano and serving Belvedere city proper — similar to what was previously Route 9 — towards the Tiburon Ferry Terminal. Furthermore, instead of ending at the ferry terminal, the shuttle will continue further along Paradise Drive to serve the east side of the peninsula (also serving Paradise Beach, Paradise Cay, and Prince Royal communities) and finally end at the Village at Corte Madera where connections to Highway 101 buses (including Routes 17, 36, 70, 71, and 80) and Route 22 to and from San Rafael can be made at the Paradise Drive bus pads. An additional benefit of eliminating the portion between Strawberry and Marin City is that it reduces the duplication made by Route 22 that also utilizes the same roads in the area (although inconsistently), and that it enhances Strawberry as a transfer point from this route to Routes 10, 17, 22, 36, 70, 71, and 80 (although some lines are served indirectly from the Tiburon Wye bus pads). A potential disadvantage for this route, though, would be a lack of ridership, especially along Paradise Drive between Trestle Glen Road and the Tiburon Ferry Terminal where houses are set far apart between each other, which could potentially limit the line’s viability and success.
Southbound to Strawberry via Belvedere
Northbound to Village at Corte Madera via Paradise Dr

0 thoughts on “Can Marin Transit Close the Shuttle Gaps?

  1. Marin Transit is very popular for their timely service and meticulous. If they solve out their key issues regarding significant service gaps, they can be known as the best transport services. I am sure your article will make them think and take proper actions.

  2. Transit service that does not operate along fixed routes is operated under contract with whistlestop wheels. Thanks.

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