GGT considers replacing Route 80 with expanded 70 and 101 service

What I propose should come of Golden Gate Transit's changes.

What I propose should come of Golden Gate Transit’s changes. The left two lines – 101 and 70 – are the target of GGT’s proposals.

For Santa Rosans who’ve stayed too late in San Francisco, they know the slog once the 101 stops running: 3 hours on Route 80 up to downtown, likely arriving well after midnight.

Ridership on the 80 has been steadily declining, with most of the trips on the service actually being intra-Marin trips – that is, from those who would be just as happy on a 70 or 71 as on an 80 – while ridership on the 101 has been steadily increasing. Simplifying the system by folding the revenue hours of the 80 into the 70 and 101 seems like a no-brainer.

Currently, there are 9 routes plying Highway 101, but GGT is looking at just its 3 Basic routes: 70, 80, and 101. The 70 offers local service from Novato to San Francisco, stopping at every bus pad in between. The 80 offers local service from Santa Rosa to San Francisco. The 101 offers local service in Sonoma and skip-stop service through Marin, stopping only at Novato, San Rafael, and the Spencer Avenue bus pad.

GGT wants to eliminate Route 80 and hand over its runs – typically in the morning and evening – to the two remaining services. Route 70 would cover its local service in Marin, while Route 101 would cover its local service in Sonoma, so that there would be no loss of service span or service frequency. In other words, the system will work better. SF-to-Sonoma riders won’t need to slog through all Marin’s local stops, and Marin riders will just see a number change.

To optimize the usefulness of the new service pattern, a timed transfer will be important at Novato to the 70 and local routes. This will give travelers between Sonoma and Marin access to all of the other county’s bus pads with a simple and short transfer. A timed transfer with Mendocino County’s Route 68 at Santa Rosa, too, will allow GGT travelers access to points far to the north of GGT’s service range.

The total net cost of this switch will be about $100,000 per year. While well worth the cost, it’s odd this isn’t a free change. The service hours and span of the 80 are simply being divvied up, not added to.

This is a similar plan to one Clem Tillier proposed for Caltrain: a local San Mateo train and a Santa Clara local that skips most of San Mateo’s stops on its way to San Francisco. Given the quasi-rail nature of GGT’s highway service, it’s not surprising that what would work well in for a rail line would also work well for a bus system.

Ideally, GGT wouldn’t stop there, and would partner with Marin Transit reexamine all their all-day highway routes. Route 71 duplicates Route 70 within Marin but doesn’t go into San Francisco. Route 36 duplicates it between San Rafael and Marin City, as does Route 17. Routes 4, 24 27, and 92 also operate all day along Highway 101 to San Francisco, but they run on different routes once they enter the City.

Perhaps some or all of these service hours would do better in the basic 70 and 101 lines, allowing greater frequency and reliability outside of just the interlining areas.

This is an all-too-rare positive step by GGT to streamline its operations and run a better service, and they deserve applause. The next step is a Title VI examination, required by federal law, to ensure the change doesn’t adversely affect minority populations, followed by as public hearings. Here’s hoping everything goes well.

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About David Edmondson
A native Marinite working in Washington, DC, I am fascinated by how one might apply smart-growth and urbanist thinking to the low-density towns of my home.

6 Responses to GGT considers replacing Route 80 with expanded 70 and 101 service

  1. Jean Sever says:

    24 is our commuter hour only express, coming down Sir Francis Drake and picking people up at Lucky Drive before going express to SF. It only goes a few hours to SF in morning and from SF in evening. It’s not a freeway bus thank god.

    I believe the 4 is also purely a commute hour bus to MV and not a freeway bus too.

  2. SFtoRosa says:

    The 101 is a lifesaver when commuting midday from Santa Rosa to SF. That being said, I always thought Route 72 was a candidate for a few midday or weekend trips to suck up some latent demand for direct SF service from Sonoma. There are excess MCIs during the midday and weekends that could be used. GGT is now hiring part time drivers which should eventually mean some real cost savings for such a peak focused agency.

    Next steps in my mind is the streamlining of the Sonoma route alignment. Petaluma transit should be serving its downtown, the 101 needs to just serve the transit mall, which needs to be modified for 2 way service. Buses should not have to turn around the block and wait at lights just to pull into the stop in both directions. Next the 101 should stop only at at the RP expy pad and not Safeway. Lastly, pull it off of SR ave and just serve 2nd and B downtown and Piner. Late night runs could possibly serve more stops when local transit is not running.

    • Interesting ideas. Do you have an estimate how much time would be saved by those cuts?

      • SFtoRosa says:

        Unfortunately there isn’t a trial version of Hastus, but I would guess 15-20 minutes each way with more reliable service. Just multiply that by a fully loaded hourly rate. Even the lack of perceived delay would attract new riders.
        When the 80 was planned there wasn’t nearly as many HOV lanes so pulling off the freeway was not as big of deal. In fact, roads like Las Galinas in San Rafael and Santa Rosa Ave were faster than the 101 at peak commutes during the boom years in the 80-90s when more of Marin was of working age.

  3. Pingback: Today’s Headlines | Streetsblog San Francisco

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