Seamless Bay Area Vision Map: How a unified transit network would transform job access and improve commutes

The existing transit network in the Bay Area — 28+ agencies

The existing transit network in the Bay Area — 28+ agencies

We recently published a map illustrating what a seamless public transit system would look like. In addition to the map, we built an associated model that tells a compelling and data-driven story of the benefits that our proposed system would bring, like the hundreds of thousands of jobs that would become accessible by transit.

The map, entitled the Seamless Bay Area Vision Map, was developed in a partnership with Interline, and funded by a grant from Microsoft. Our goal in modeling this future system was to determine how to make it faster and easier to get around the Bay Area, and to uncover the associated benefits.

“The Bay Area's existing transit is confusing, inconvenient and inefficient. We can create a seamless, easy to use system if we plan transit as an integrated system rather than as separate agencies,” says Ian Griffiths, Director of Policy.

He added, “As we consider raising billions of dollars for transit expansion, we must take a step back and think about the network we want to create, and how should it be run to create a seamless experience for customers.”  Our intent behind the Vision Map is to focus Bay Area residents and leaders on exactly that goal, which Griffiths hopes will guide reforms to local transportation governance.

Vision Map

What would the Vision Map look like in practice?

Beyond updated and expanded services, riders would experience seamless transfers between buses, rail, and ferries, to start. The network would be rooted in the creation of “high quality mobility hubs with seamless, timed connections and integrated wayfinding and maps”, Griffiths noted.

Currently, only 12% of Bay Area commuters rely on transit to get to work. With a more robust, reliable network, far more commuters would be able to better leverage transit to avoid traffic, reduce their commute time, and access more jobs.


Benefits: More Access to Jobs, and a Better Commute

The map doesn’t just model the smoother transit rides and better transfers -- it also models the economic impacts. As shown in the table, the proposed system would increase the number of job opportunities accessible by transit by 2.5-7x, putting hundreds of thousands of new jobs within reach for Bay Area residents. 

Not only that, our’ modeled system would also help relieve one of residents’ number one gripes: traffic. 75% of Bay Area residents currently drive to work because many of the region’s largest job centers are not accessible within a reasonable transit commute time. As the table below shows, this system would put millions more people within a 60 minute transit commute of the region’s major job centers, reducing reliance on cars -- and relieving traffic.


Making the System a Reality will take strong regional leadership and big investments

Through seamless integration combined with large increases in investment in our transit system, Griffiths believes the Bay Area can realize this vision -- “but it requires clear regional leadership, effective and accountable transit agencies, adequate funding, and alignment of purpose across the Bay Area, which we sorely lack right now.” 

Where to from here? We continue to advance reforms to regional transportation governance. Our goal is to improve the capacity and accountability of the region’s public institutions, so that they can plan and deliver a system that more closely resembles this Vision Map.

Griffiths closed, “It’s time for the Bay Area to have a transit network that reflects our region’s tremendous wealth, innovation, environmental stewardship, and commitment to equity. It is possible, and we’ll continue this work until it’s complete.”


Join us in advocating for a bolder transit system

We need your support to change the system. Donate now to fuel our educational and advocacy activities. Join our mailing list and sign our petition calling for change.

Julia Verbrugge