The Coastside is a truly spectacular place, except for one thing … the traffic! The same can be said of the Peninsula in general: It’s a great place to live and visit, but the traffic is beyond horrible.

So what’s to be done about this traffic mess? The fact is, we know there is no single solution. But we also know that better, much better, public transportation is an essential part of the answer.

San Mateo County and the entire Bay Area are experiencing one of the greatest economic expansions in at least a generation. With this economic growth, San Mateo County’s roads have become more congested than ever and our mass transit systems are under tremendous stress. Costly, maddening delays are the weekday norm now on the bayside as people struggle to get to work and go about their daily business. On weekends, sunny days and during pumpkin season this maddening gridlock migrates to the coast as people pile in their cars and head to the beach.

As cities on the bayside add more density, planners are turning to transit-oriented developments to create both new housing options and to get people out of their cars and off clogged freeways. Public transportation ridership is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Generally speaking, the more people ride, the stronger the case for more public investment of funds in the public transit systems, and the better the system becomes.

Here on the Coastside, the conditions and requirements are very different. First, we simply don’t have the population density to make traditional types of public transportation cost-effective. At off-peak times, it’s hard to fill buses.

Second, we need services that residents will use to get to and from work during the week and we need services that visitors will use to get to and from the coast on the weekend. And everybody needs to be able to travel north and south.

While the bayside is hustling to add density, Half Moon Bay and the Midcoast are struggling to limit density. Coastside communities have the dual job of safeguarding fragile coastal resources while ensuring that the coast is accessible to visitors from around the world. Building bigger roads and more infrastructure is not a viable option here, and will not effectively reduce traffic anyway. The bigger the roads get, the more traffic is attracted.

So, with limited density, our challenge is to convince people to get out of their cars and onto public transportation.

The good news is that SamTrans is all ears. SamTrans has listened to residents’ requests to make changes to transit service on the coast and the agency is preparing to launch a Coastside Transit Study. The study will critically assess the coast’s transit needs and will help SamTrans planners look creatively at ways to leverage new technology and out-of-the-box thinking to help alleviate the increasing congestion on coastal roads.

This is our opportunity to speak up for more effective and reliable public transportation on the coast. Let’s make our voices heard and let SamTrans know how public transit that serves the Coastside can work more efficiently.

With this study we can begin to address questions like, how do we make it easy for visitors to ride public transportation to the coast? Once they’re here, how do we get them where they want to go without a car? How do we effectively connect Coastsiders to the major transit hubs to the east and the north so they can get to and from jobs while leaving their cars at home? How do we get our kids to start riding the bus at an early age and stick with public transportation all the way through high school and beyond? How do we fast- track the creation of more bike amenities so it’s safe and easy to ride around the coast? And perhaps the most important question is, since fare revenue only covers a small portion of transit service, how do we find resources to pay for these improvements?

On April 18, SamTrans will host an event at the Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss the Coastside Transit Study and to get your input. Put this event on your calendar and show up with your ideas. This is a unique chance to let SamTrans know how to make public transportation really work for Coastsiders.

Good public transit is the most effective way to get cars off the road. Let’s get it right here on the Coastside. Speak up now if you want to make this happen.

Zoe Kersteen-Tucker is a Moss Beach resident and member of the SamTrans board of directors.

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(1) comment


thanks so much for the article
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