Doomsday scenarios for sinking Bay Area transit revealed

By Eliyahu Kamisher, The Mercury News, November 20, 2022

“[R]eal scenarios drafted by the region’s transit agencies in a series of federally mandated planning documents [were] obtained through a public records request by the Bay Area News Group. 

“This is what is possible, they say, unless Bay Area taxpayers and state leaders in Sacramento pony up more money to revive the ailing system.

  • BART: Terminating two of five train lines – Red and Green – meaning no more direct trains from Richmond and Berryessa to San Francisco.
  • Caltrain: Slashing service amid a $50 million deficit, even as its $2.4 billion electrified trains hit the rails.
  • AC Transit: ‘Numerous local lines’ reduced or fully discontinued.
  • Ferries: Major midday and weekend services slashed across the bay. Service expansions to Berkeley, Redwood City and Mission Bay halted.
  • Muni: Entire network returns to pandemic-era levels with frequency reductions starting on bus lines 2, 6 and 21

“The scenarios – akin to transit planning war games – also provide a window into alternative versions of the Bay Area’s post-pandemic future.

“In the coming five years, the Bay Area’s seven largest operators face a cumulative $2 billion operating deficit, according to the MTC, which oversees regional transit financing.

“At San Francisco’s Muni for instance, even in the best-case scenario – where riders pack buses and will soon crowd the Central Subway, the $1.95 billion light rail project that opened on [November 20] – the agency is projecting long-term service cuts of 21 percent across bus and rail, compared to pre-pandemic levels.

“Potential cuts are biggest at BART, the regional rail spine, where service could plummet by 80 percent in what transit planners refer to as a ‘death spiral.’  The severity is caused by the high fixed costs of running a train system, the agency said.

“The future of the Bay Area’s transportation network – one that forms a vital social safety net, and reduces traffic and carbon emissions – is at stake, according to transit advocates.”

Read the full article here.  (~5 min.)

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