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Marin Transit’s Latest Short-Range Transit Plan: An Overview (Part 1)

Every five to ten years, transit agencies are mandated by local and state laws to develop Short- and Long-Range Transit Plans (SRTP and LRTP, respectively) to address the evolving needs of its residents living within a particular transit network, and Marin Transit is no exception to that policy. After it implemented its last SRTP in 2011, the transit agency has undergone another countywide survey, two needs assessments for Tiburon and Novato, and addressing concerns governing its Safe Routes to Schools program to end up with its latest transit plan for the county, mandated for FY2016-2025.
It is not that easy nor perfect to design a well-developed transit network, especially for a suburban county like Marin. However, with continued population and jobs growth, especially concentrated along the US-101 corridor, Marin Transit has to address the commuting needs of its residents and workers who rely on its services to get around. When I read its latest draft Short-Range Transit Plan (downloadable here in PDF), I’ve noticed some significant changes that really made me captivated and concerned at the same time. I will list down the basic changes first, then I will delve into the details later on.

Summary of Changes:

  • The Canal District will lose the beloved 35. What will be replaced would be more service on the 36 (which will also be extended to serve Strawberry) and expanded service on the 45 (see below), which will finally address the 15-minute frequency needs of the community.
  • The SRTP strives to address the future needs of its future tie-up to SMART train services. With the SMART train expected to go online in late-2016 or early-2017, Marin Transit is working closely with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) officials to ensure adequate, timed connections will be made between both agencies across its stations in Marin County, from Atherton to the north, to Larkspur Ferry to the south.
  • Route 45 will become a much stronger trunk line by extending it to Novato. In the current setup, Route 35 becomes the 45 (and vice versa) at San Rafael Transit Center, allowing a one-seat service between the Canal District and Northgate Mall. When the SRTP is realized, not only will the unification take place, but it will also serve local bus pads beyond Terra Linda and provide new service to Downtown Novato, giving more riders one-seat service and an alternative to many other routes.
  • Novato will regain daily service on the 49. Given the vast popularity of the shuttle line 259–also noted as the most productive shuttle service in the system–it is a good candidate for reviving daily bus service to provide consistency in service between San Rafael and Novato via Northgate Mall and Hamilton. And, in the latest SRTP, it is poised to see half-hourly service during peak periods on weekdays to address additional demand on the route.
  • Local service along Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael will be relegated to shuttle services. At the present, the corridor sees mostly big bus services on the 45, 45K, and 70 (early morning and late night). The SRTP will shift its focus to smaller shuttle vans already deployed on the 257 to allow better circulation along the corridor and to use the big bus on the more heavily-traveled services.
  • The 71 will run as a semi-express service along US-101. Compared to today, the SRTP plans to redo the 71 to extend its service to Sausalito Ferry, while at the same time operate it as a semi-express service, bypassing bus pads between Ignacio and Tiburon Wye (except San Rafael Transit Center).
  • The Fourth Street and Miracle Mile corridors will see a brand new, express service. Planned as the Route 23X, it will operate as an express service between San Rafael Transit Center and San Anselmo Hub during weekday peak periods, and it will operate between the Canal District and Fairfax Manor, giving riders a faster service along the already thriving corridors.
  • Service along Andersen Drive will be displaced. Despite the fact that there are several shops along the mostly-industrial corridor, this section has seen some of the lowest ridership figures due to the fact that there are currently no residences found along the corridor between Bellam and Sir Francis Drake, and the ridership from San Quentin is more focused towards Routes 40 and 42 to and from the East Bay.
  • Shifting shuttle routes to focus more on northern San Rafael is a welcome development. Given the lower-density developments found in Terra Linda and Marinwood and the hilly terrain, shuttle services along Las Gallinas Avenue and Montecillo Drive can be helpful in giving residents mobility choices, especially that the road geography isn’t that well-suited for regular bus service.

And here comes the nitty-gritty of the plans I’ve mentioned above: (for mobile users and viewers who cannot see the document from Scribd, download the document below)

File Size: 22 kb
File Type: docx

Download File

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On Part 2, I will provide extensive commentary on the proposed service changes, as well as my recommendations on how to streamline services to better address mobility needs and accessibility throughout Marin County.

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