Commuting – By Land, By Sea

Commuters who work in downtown San Francisco have long been accustomed to multiple modes of transportation to arrive at their workplace. They might carpool with a colleague to the Alameda Port, then board a ferry to the Ferry Building and maybe, from there, take the BART up to their workplace near Civic Center.

With recent explosive growth, government and business leaders are exploring significant expansion of the transportation network that knits together the Bay Area. What could the future commute look like for San Mateo County?

Here are the latest updates on what’s happening as the transit in the region adapts to meet the increasing demand for getting around smoothly.

Map of current and proposed public ferries in the Bay Area.

Map of current and proposed public ferries in the Bay Area.

A commuter ferry that stops in Redwood City? It just might be. In 2014, Google initiated a five-day pilot program, operating private ferries from Alameda to the Redwood City port. Once in Redwood City, employees would board an employee shuttle to work in Mountain View.

Today, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) that runs the major public ferries is in serious expansion mode. Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council was recently appointed to WETA’s board, signaling a call to leverage big-business backing to bring much needed infrastructure change (the Bay Area Council helped form BART). WETA is exploring expanding ferry service to include Redwood City, Richmond, Treasure Island and Berkeley, among other ports.

A favored method of solving the “last-mile” problem for commuters who live at Bay Meadows is to bring their bicycle on Caltrain. After disembarking from the Caltrain station closest to their work, it’s just a bike ride to their office. But what if you don’t want to bring your bicycle on Caltrain or what if your work takes you to a variety of places and you need some alternatives?

Maybe bike-sharing is for you. The Bay Area Bikeshare system started in 2013, with 700 bicycles for rent in downtown San Francisco. Last spring, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission announced the program would expand to include up to 7,000 bikes and add service to Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley, as well as a limited number of hubs in Redwood City, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

BikeShare in San Mateo? The City and County are exploring a number of operators and possibilities for funding a bike-share system locally. Stay tuned!

(photo courtesy Creative Commons license user Richard Masoner)

(photo courtesy Creative Commons license user Richard Masoner)

While Caltrain ridership (and bike-commuting via Caltrain) has surged during the booming economy, Caltrain recently received a $134,000 state grant for a Bike Parking Management Plan. This study will help Caltrain expand and improve the system of wayside bike parking at the agency’s 32 stations.hartnet

In the meantime, Caltrain is in the process of a major upgrade. The Caltrain Modernization Program (CalMod) will electrify and upgrade the performance, operating efficiency, capacity, safety and reliability of Caltrain’s commuter rail service by 2019. In June, the commuter rail added 6-car sets equipped with two bike cars to accommodate increased ridership.

Businesses expanding or relocating their offices within Silicon Valley, San Francisco or the general Bay Area can look no further. Bay Meadows has 5 brand new office buildings conveniently located on Caltrain. Station 3 is leasing now. All of the office buildings will have access to 18 acres of parks, a social street featuring coffee shops, restaurants, a biergarten and plenty of outdoor gathering spaces. The buildings are minutes from the Hillsdale Caltrain Station and proximal to SFO! It’s just 10 minutes to Palo Alto and SFO and 25 minutes to San Francisco!