SF Bay Area Fantasy Metro

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This is my take on a fantasy transit map for the San Francisco Bay Area in the year 2040. This integrated system of all Bay Area transit agencies supports a heavily urbanized region, with a population at least 150% to 200% greater than that of today. It is inspired by many concepts proposed by transit advocates in the past decade and the spirit of bringing neighborhoods, people and cultures together through transit.

Oakland as the new heart of the Transbay Network

The centerpiece of this new Bay Area transit system is the Oakland Central Station, which requires the conversion of Interstate 980 into a greenway and multilevel intermodal rail terminal. This station feeds into a second and third Transbay crossing via Alameda that meets the current Market Street Subway at Powell and Union Square. The Alameda Conduit carries BART to SoMA via Third Street, and a third dedicated High Speed Rail bore brings bullet trains from Sacramento to meet trains from San Jose at the Transbay Centre.

Two new BART subways for San Francisco along Fulton St and Geary Blvd

In the South Bay and Silicon Valley, the Fremont BART branch is extended to Downtown San Jose via a single-bore tunnel under Santa Clara Street in 2024. Further improvements in the Silicon Valley fueled by rising cohabitation and residential density include dedicated bus rapid transit medians along El Camino Real, De Anza Boulevard, San Tomas Expressway, and Stevens Creek Boulevard following the Alum Rock model set in 2017.

Boomtown: rail and BRT grow westward across San Jose's sprawling landscape

VTA's light rail also experienced large-scale cross-town extensions. In 2018, VTA reorganized its alignments into the Orange, Green, and Blue Lines. Following the completion of the Vasona Extension to Los Gatos of the Green Line, as well as the extension of the Capitol Avenue line to Eastridge, VTA began exploring the path of retrofitting unused freight lines to bring light rail out of San Jose. Utilizing an old quarry freight line, the West Valley Line connects Mountain View to Los Gatos along Castro St, Miramonte Ave, and Foothill Blvd. The Silver Line converts an underused Union Pacific line into a transit line that connects North San Jose to Japantown, crossing over the First Street Line underpass, and emerging at the Santa Clara BART terminus to run along the shoulders of El Camino Real and Fremont Ave. towards Los Altos.

In the East and North Bay areas, freeway bottlenecks were exacerbated by the area's mountainous geography. A progressive government helped lobby to convert freeway lanes into new BART corridors, connecting far-flung suburbs with the core transbay network. Plans such as wBART, that was scrapped in the 2000s, were revisited as realistic options to mitigate gridlock and improve air quality in those regions. Transit-oriented policy helped secure funding to retrofit the lower decks of the Golden Gate and Richmond Bridges to realize the original 1960s BART plan in Marin and connect to the new Sonoma-Marin County Rail Transit.

Intercity rail lines such as the Altamont Commuter Express and Caltrain are electrified in this plan and its equipment are standardized after the construction of a new regional rail yard in Santa Clara to support the BART Silicon Valley expansion. European-style EMUs serve these lines and provide frequent service between transit hubs around the Bay.

Lastly, the California High Speed Rail project is expedited with Chinese engineering guidance and investment, slicing down the commute times for the former Bay Area residents who turned to supercommuting after moving out to cities like Modesto and Stockton during the housing crisis of the 2010s. ◉