Supposing the first two sentences of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address had read like this?

“Four score and seven _________ our
______________forth____________ on ____________,
a new _________ in
Liberty, and dedicated to the
____________that all
_______________. Now we are
________ in a great _______,
____________that nation, or any
nation_________, can long _________.”

With such gaps, the Gettysburg Address would never have become one of the most enduring and beloved axioms in human history.

The damage done to the Gettysburg Address by the above omissions is analogous to the damage done to a region when there are major gaps in its network of trains and buses. There is no better way to illustrate the dismal effect on Bay Area travelers and public mobility of such gaps than by simply listing them:

1. Needed:  a rail shuttle line between Union City and Redwood City via a rebuilt Dumbarton Rail Bridge, with connections to BART, Caltrain,  Amtrak and the Altamont Commuter Express (AC E).

2. Needed:  a significantly speeded-up and otherwise upgraded ACE system between Stockton and San Jose, with connections to the Dumbarton rail shuttle and Amtrak.

3. Needed:  the long-awaited 1.3 mile extension  of Caltrain from where it now stops to the $2.3 billion terminal waiting for it in downtown San Francisco, with connections to 10 other rail lines and over 40 bus lines.

4. Needed:  a BART/Amtrak connection in West Oakland.  As shown in the photo, a transfer station could be placed at the point where BART passes directly over the Amtrak tracks.

Gaps5. Needed: an efficient regional bus system, operating mostly on HOV lanes, to take people to parts of the Region where BART doesn’t go and will probably never go.

6. Needed:  an east-west “out-of-congestion” bus or possibly rail connection between the Marin-Sonoma rail service (SMART) and the Fairfield Amtrak Station.

7. Needed:  a major improvement in AC Transit’s current very low appeal to would-be riders who are not transit-dependent. Catering only to the transit-dependent is no longer adequate, if it ever was. In the Bay Area there are simply too many riders of choice to ignore.

8. Thanks in part to decades of inaction on the part of MTC, it is now unlikely that the Central Bay Area will see another subaqueous rail tube before 2060.  Unless AC Transit invigorates its transbay bus service, getting between Oakland and San Francisco will become increasingly difficult.

9. There continue to be multitudinous gaps in bus service within and between Bay Area transit agencies.

In part because of these gaps, busloads of harried commuters continue to get bogged down in peak period gridlock. After saying and doing virtually nothing about the gaps in service during his 18 year stint as the head of the Region’s transportation agency, MTC’s former director now calls for congestion pricing.  Which is ok.   But as anyone with even a superficial understanding of the situation recognizes, the gradual imposition of disincentives to drive solo must be matched with an aggressive program for eliminating the gaps in today’s network of trains and buses.

This article was featured in Newsletter Issue 14. Click here to go back to the newsletter.