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If Downtown SF Is Dead, Why Is Traffic So Bad?

By Maryann Thompson, The San Francisco Standard, March 2, 2023

“A closer look at the latest data shows bridge and highway traffic nearing pre-pandemic levels while public transit usage and commuter bus service remains a fraction of normal.

“SF leaders have been watching public transportation figures closely as an indicator of the city’s pandemic recovery. Analysis from the Controller’s Office shows BART ridership rebounded from Covid lows of 2020 but the number of passengers exiting at downtown SF stations is only 30 percent of what it used to be.

“ ‘When public transport is no longer frequent and easy accessible, people will revert to nonshared rides because they still need to get where they need to go,’ said John Ford, executive director of, the transportation demand management agency of San Mateo County.

“In Marin, Golden Gate Transit now offers just 55 percent of the service it had before the pandemic. Currently, its commuter routes have only 17 percent of the bus riders and 32 percent of the ferry riders they had in 2019.

“And without express buses, many Marin commuters have no choice but to jump in their cars.

“ ‘How do we realign our bus lines and services to meet the demands of post-pandemic riders?’ [Robert Lyles, head of media affairs at AC Transit] said. ‘We want to see where our service is, where the riders are and how to rework our lines to be fiscally responsible.’ ”

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