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Marin Transit’s Short Range Transit Plan: Minor Tweaks Through Strawberry, More Sausalito Service, and a Bonus (Part 5)

On the latest discussion on Marin Transit’s Short-Range Transit Plan, I will be discussing the small, but crucial changes that will be made in Southern Marin.
Marin Transit, for all intents and purposes, will make minor adjustments in southern Marin. In particular, no routing changes will be made on Routes 17, 22, 36, 61, and 219. More interesting is the fact that Route 22, the service that operates between San Rafael Transit Center and Marin City via San Anselmo, College of Marin, and Downtown Larkspur, will see more service in the mornings as Marin Transit will add southbound departures from San Rafael at 6am, 6:30am, and 7am. And those three trips will not be interlined anymore with Golden Gate Transit’s Route 18 as it is currently done today on select trips (most notably 5:30am, 6am, 6:40am, and 7:15am), with the trip leaving around 7:15am being the busiest since it provides one of the closest arrivals to meet College of Marin’s 8am classes (arriving on campus at around 7:45am). On the other hand, midday and nighttime trips will see some adjustments as:

  • The final northbound trip will leave Marin City at 10pm, eliminating a later departure at 11pm
  • The final southbound trip will leave San Rafael at 10pm, which will be an additional trip from its current last trip at 9pm
  • All midday departures leaving San Rafael will be moved to arrive at :55 past and leave on the hour (:00), in which all schedules will be adjusted accordingly

Hopefully, this schedule adjustment will address persistent missed transfer concerns at Strawberry (on Routes 4, 17, 22, and 219) where there is no standardized transfer schedule available and solely relies on knowing the schedule and phoning the drivers at the right time for timed transfers.

Along the US-101 corridor, a more significant change will take place wherein it will involve, not just one, but three routes:

  • Golden Gate Transit Route 10
  • Marin Transit Route 36
  • Marin Transit Route 71

The reason I included Route 10: based on Golden Gate Transit’s latest proposal, also slated to begin in June 2016 alongside Marin Transit’s service changes, that Basic Route will be eliminated and replaced with Route 30, which will emulate the Route 10 between San Francisco Transbay Terminal, Sausalito, and Marin City, but, it will be extended to serve the bus pads along US-101 up to San Rafael Transit Center. What will then happen to Route 70, the San Francisco-to-Novato service? It will see a frequency reduction from every 30 minutes during peaks to hourly as it will have other bus lines complementing both Basic services.

On the local front, Route 36, which currently operates weekday peak periods only, will be significantly upgraded to become an all-day, daily operation from 6:30am to 8pm on weekdays, from 7:30am to 7pm on weekends and holidays. It will run every 30 minutes, which will complement Route 35 service to Novato via Northgate Mall and US-101 bus pads. All in all, service around the Canal District will significantly improve to every 15 minutes on the counterclockwise loop and every 30 to 60 minutes on the clockwise loop most of the day. While service to Strawberry was called for in the original plan that would create additional fast service between San Rafael and Strawberry Shopping Center (similar to Route 17), it seems that it was subsequently removed in the latest revision, perhaps because it would duplicate Routes 17 and 22 that already provide express service between San Rafael and Strawberry (17), and between Marin City and Strawberry (22).

Route 71, as previously mentioned on an earlier post, will become a limited-stop service along US-101 between Ignacio Blvd (Enfrente & Salvatore southbound) and Tiburon Wye bus pads, with the only stop in between at San Rafael Transit Center. What was not fully explained, however, is that it will continue further south to serve Sausalito Ferry Terminal, emulating local Route 17 and future Route 30. Instead of operating daily (with infrequent schedules weekends and holidays), it will be relegated to operating weekdays only from 6am to 8pm, in which it will complement other bus lines operating along US-101, including Routes 17, 22, 30 (soon), 35, 36, 245 (soon), 49, 70, and 101. And its departure times in San Rafael will be timed to arrive at :40 past and depart at :45 past, with select peak trips leaving at :15 past.

Golden Gate Transit to Boost Weekend Sausalito Service

While supposedly separate from this discussion, Golden Gate Transit is proposing two demonstrator routes (on top of the proposed Route 30) that will operate weekends and holidays, which will involve Marin City and Sausalito:

  • Route 2 to San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf and Transbay Terminal
  • Route 19 to Golden Gate Park via Park Presidio Blvd

For those who know Golden Gate Transit Route 2, it currently operates weekday peak periods only between Marin Headlands and San Francisco’s Financial District via Sausalito and Fisherman’s Wharf. Tapping onto an expanding tourist market wanting to use public transportation to get across the Golden Gate Bridge between San Francisco and Sausalito, this service is a much cheaper alternative to riding the Sausalito Ferry service (which can cost up to $12 one way) while providing nearly door-to-door service between San Francisco and Marin City. And if this plan is to be approved, it will mean additional service for tourists visiting San Francisco as it will provide direct trips between popular attractions like:

  • San Francisco Ferry Building
  • The Embarcadero
  • Fisherman’s Wharf (Piers 39 thru 45)
  • Ghirardelli Square
  • Fort Mason
  • Palace of Fine Arts
  • Presidio National Park
  • Golden Gate Bridge
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Sausalito waterfront
On the other hand, the proposed Route 19 (which should not be confused with the old Route 19 which did Tiburon to Strawberry, subsequently replaced by the shuttle Route 219) will operate between Marin City and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco via Sausalito and Park Presidio Boulevard to bring in tourists and residents from the Richmond and Sunset Districts to Marin County. While the southern terminal is still up for debate, I believe this route is aimed more for tourists wanting a more direct service between the vast park and the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as provide additional service to Sausalito as a one-seat ride to complement Routes 2 and 30 (soon). At the same time, however, it will duplicate Routes 17 and 61 between Sausalito Ferry and Marin City, effectively losing ridership along that short corridor in the process.
Analyzing the above changes, while the service adjustments will be minor at best, Route 36 being upgraded to a daily service and Route 71 extension to Sausalito are seen as significant improvements to the overall connectivity between southern and central Marin along US-101, in particular because the two trunk lines generate a lot of ridership, such that connecting traffic at San Rafael for both routes is significant enough to warrant needed increase in levels of service. However, I still believe some more tweaks can be made to further improve connectivity in south Marin, including:

  • Reconsidering realignment of the Route 36 to serve Strawberry directly and provide better connectivity with Routes 4, 17, and 22. This way, missed connections can be lessened and passengers needing to travel directly between Strawberry and the Canal will have a one-seat ride.
  • Consider providing trips on West Marin Stagecoach Route 61 to Tam Valley to replace loss of service from Golden Gate Transit Route 10. In this way, transit service to that community will become daily instead of weekday peak periods only.

As for Routes 2 and 19, I can suggest a few locations for the San Francisco terminal of Route 19, including:

  • Judah & 9th Street (which will connect to Muni Metro’s N-Judah, as well as the 6-Parnassus, 43-Masonic, 44-O’Shaughnessy, and 66-Quintara)
  • Lincoln & 9th Street (while two blocks away from Judah, it will provide adequate connections to Muni’s 7-Haight/Noriega and 44-O’Shaughnessy

Those two stops can stop in front of the De Young Museum (southbound) and California Academy of Sciences (northbound), to be shared with the 44-O’Shaughnessy, as well as serving Fulton Street and Park Presidio Blvd where it can share stops with the 5-Fulton and 28-19th Avenue. Those two museums, plus the Hagisawara Japanese Tea Gardens and additional nearby attractions, draw so many visitors that providing bus service to that particular area of Golden Gate Park will be an excellent demonstrator service to see if tourists will use a direct bus (albeit more expensive than Muni) to get to and from the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito.

Other potential terminals include:

  • Ocean Beach (either at La Playa & 48th Avenue, shared with the 5-Fulton, 18-46th Avenue, and 31-Balboa; or Lincoln & 46th Avenue, shared with the 18)
  • Fulton & 8th Avenue (north of Golden Gate Park, shared with the 5-Fulton)

When Routes 2 and 19 come online, those will compete directly against Muni’s 76X-Marin Headlands Express, which charges $2.25 for adults ($1.00 for youths and seniors) to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, and service around the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands are still under Muni’s fare guidelines (e.g. all-doors boarding, unlimited transfer use for 90+ minutes, etc).

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