Between 2010 and 2040, San Francisco will need 92,410 new housing units and 191,000 more jobs to accommodate its growing population. The city alone will take in 134,000 more residents between now and 2035, while the Bay Area can expect an additional 2.1 million people by 2040. This growth is going to happen whether San Francisco wants it or not – but how is the city going to plan for it?
Housing will always be a concern, but another concern that comes with it is making sure the transit systems are able to accommodate the residents living in these new homes and apartments. Even if San Francisco somehow built 100,000 new units within the next twenty years and prices stabilized, the city still has to ensure the Muni, bus lines and BART can support this growth. Many local residents already view these systems as unreliable and slow, though there are signs that transit will get better with time.
San Francisco took a big step in adopting the Plan Bay Area, a thirty-year strategic growth plan designed to address the drastic growth expected over the next three decades. This includes eliminating sprawl by focusing on infill development and incentivizing new housing to be built near major transit corridors. The plan may be controversial amongst some Bay Area residents, but it will promote sustainability in a global metropolis.
If the city is going to make this vision become a reality, it is going to have to significantly invest in its transit. This means more funding for Muni carts, BART trains and bus lines, all of which are currently lacking. Focusing development on transit corridors means that 80% of the growth is going to take place on 20% of the land, but it will only work if there is enough space inside those carts.
San Francisco is aware of this problem. As it builds more during this smart growth movement, urban planners will have to find ways to finance the transportation systems so that they work in sync with the greater numbers of residents moving within and around the San Francisco area.
How is your city planning its transit systems for population growth?