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Marin Transit’s Short Range Transit Plan: A New Express Service Planned for the Miracle Mile Corridor (Part 4)

In this latest edition of analyzing the Marin Transit’s upcoming Short-Range Transit Plan, I will be addressing the changes that will impact the Ross Valley and Downtown San Rafael, including the Fourth Street, Miracle Mile, and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard corridors.
With the discussion on Marin Transit’s upcoming changes underway, there will be a significant service shakeup along the Miracle Mile and Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, in which it will bring in the following:

The creation of a new express service, Route 23X. Planned to complement the current Route 23, Route 23X will operate along nearly the same alignment as its local version, in which it will operate with the following pattern:

  • Between Canal and San Rafael Transit Center: all stops served
  • Between San Rafael Transit Center and San Anselmo Hub: no stops will be made; route will use 2nd Street eastbound and 3rd Street westbound to expedite the trip
  • Between San Anselmo Hub and Fairfax Manor: all stops served

This line is proposed to be operated hourly from 6am to 10:15am, then from 2pm to 7pm.

As a result of this study, Route 23 will be shortened to serve up to Downtown Fairfax only, while Route 228 will be operated up to Fairfax Manor (see below).

Below are my comments and questions for this upcoming service:

  • Since this line will operate nonstop between San Rafael Transit Center and San Anselmo Hub, can this service also be operated as either a nonstop or limited-stop service (with stops at Sir Francis Drake at SFD High School and Butterfield Road) to and from Downtown Fairfax to reduce potential redundancy with Routes 23, 68, and 228?
  • What kinds of infrastructure improvements (e.g. traffic signal priority, bus lanes, real-time automated vehicle locator, etc.) will be made to make this service reliable and efficient for riders and drivers?
  • Will this service provide guaranteed timed connections at San Anselmo Hub so that riders heading to and coming from Larkspur Ferry, Greenbrae, College of Marin, Marin General Hospital, and Ross be able to meet their connecting buses on schedule?
  • If this is operated during the rush hour, how would this impact the ridership found in the Canal District, especially that the frequency can improve to service at least every 10 minutes? And how will this service affect the overall timed transfers at San Rafael Transit Center (especially that it currently deploys a clock-face schedule for departures, at :00, :15, :30, and :45 past)?
  • If I were to do this route, I would let it depart San Rafael Transit Center at :45 past each way so that it would not have to compete with other lines departing at other times (like :15 for Route 23 and :30 for Route 228), effectively giving both routes roughly 30-minute headways in the Canal District and along Sir Francis Drake west of San Anselmo.

Route 228, on the other hand, will be operated daily instead of the current weekend-only service. It will also see a slight route deviation, in which it will serve S Eliseo Drive, Via Casitas, and El Portal Drive to serve apartments located behind Marin General Hospital. The weekday service will be operated nearly the same time as the weekend variant, from 6:30am to 7pm. My questions for this run would be:

  • Can this route be operated for a longer period of time (perhaps up to 10pm) so that commuters along the Sir Francis Drake corridor have an option to travel between Fairfax Manor and Larkspur Ferry, especially for those taking night classes at College of Marin and arriving late from San Francisco?
  • Can this route also serve Larkspur Ferry all-day, everyday to augment service provided by the Route 25?
  • How can this route provide “adequate” spacing between it, Route 23, and Route 23X for service between San Anselmo and Downtown Fairfax so that bus bunching would not occur?
  • Can this route be rerouted to serve Andersen Drive to fill the void that will be left from Route 29 being canceled along that corridor?

Perhaps the greatest adjustments that will be made of the four central Marin services would be Route 29. Not only will it see its service span reduced to operate weekday peak periods only (6am to 10:15am, and from 2pm to 9pm), but also:

  • Eliminate the Andersen Drive segment of the route (currently, this line serves Andersen Drive, Golden Gate Transit HQ, and San Quentin, most of the stops seeing few to no passengers) while keeping service to the Canal
  • Eliminate the section west of College of Marin (consequently, the Fairfax service will be given to Route 228, above) and let Routes 22 and 228 do College of Marin, Ross, and San Anselmo
  • Reroute the service to make two loops: one from College of Marin to Marin General Hospital, then around Larkspur Landing

With this, I have several questions and suggestions:

  • Given that this route has gotten iffy ridership, would it be best if this line was to be scrapped altogether and give the remaining service to the other, higher-performing routes?
  • I understand that a direct College of Marin-Canal service is crucial since many passengers use that particular corridor. Would it be best if it was revised to do the following instead:
Yes, that’s my writing and map style for simpler routes.

What it plays out with my revision would be:

  • Keeping bus service along Lincoln Avenue and do the exact same service as the current Route 45 (not the revised version being planned) between San Rafael Transit Center and Northgate Mall
  • Keeping the bidirectional service around the Canal District as it is today, allowing riders to choose between Routes 29 and 45 to travel between it, Marin Civic Center, and Northgate Mall in a one-seat fashion
  • Introducing a one-seat service between College of Marin and Northgate Mall via Marin General Hospital, Larkspur Landing, and Larkspur Ferry Terminal
  • Keeping the proposed schedule as it is, provided that there won’t be significant overlaps between this route, Routes 45, 49, 245, and 257.

On the next post, I will discuss the small, yet significant change to be seen with Routes 22 and 36, as well as a summary of everything I’ve seen in the plan (including funding and vehicle replacements), and the future of Marin Transit’s partnerships with Golden Gate Transit (especially that the latter has chosen to end all of its remaining school runs so that Marin Transit can operate them).

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