The BART, short for Bay Area Rapid Transit, is the key transportation system for the 390,000 daily riders in the San Francisco Bay Area. But if you look at the map below, you will notice a large piece of land without any transit lines running through it.
Marin County is home to over 252,000 residents, yet it is without a BART station. If you search web content to find out why that is the case, you will not find a lot. There is minimal information explaining why the BART doesn’t connect from Marin to San Francisco and even less explaining why it doesn’t connect from the East Bay to Marin.
Marin funded a large portion of the project when BART was being planned in the 1950s. But “concerns” over whether or not the Golden Gate Bridge could support BART suddenly arose. After San Mateo pulled out of the plan, Marin’s participation fell through as well.
It is not unfair to speculate that socio-economic discrepancies might have something to do with this lack of transit connection. After all, Marin is the county where wealthy residents stopped George Lucas from building affordable housing on his land. The median household income there is almost $84,000, more than $15,000 more than San Francisco and more than twice as much as Oakland.
A similar situation in Dayton, Ohio arose where wealthy suburbanites tried to stop the local transit authority from building three new bus stops near major employment centers.
As a result of its inaccessibility via BART, Marin has made itself an elusive destination to Bay Area residents. It is now known as an auto-oriented suburb for the wealthy. However, because of its beaches, hiking and fine dining, people flock there every weekend, despite facing heavy congestion on freeways.
Self-indulgent urban planning has had negative repercussions for the entire San Francisco Bay Area. Just imagine if the BART looked like this, as opposed to the earlier image. Perhaps we would have a more equitable and environmentally aware Bay Area.
Does your local transit system exclude certain populations?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Images courtesy of Robert Poole, Muni Diaries and BART.