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Link21 Vision, Goals, and Objectives

Link21 Vision Statement

The Link21 Program and its partners will transform the BART and Regional Rail (including commuter, intercity, and high-speed rail) network in the Northern California Megaregion into a faster, more integrated system that provides a safe, efficient, equitable, and affordable means of travel for all types of trips. This Program, including a new transbay passenger rail crossing between Oakland and San Francisco, will enhance livability, community stability, economic opportunity, and environmental quality in the Megaregion while improving the travel experience. With key investments that leverage the existing rail network and increase capacity and system reliability, rail and transit will better meet the travel needs of residents throughout the Megaregion.

Link21 Goals and Objectives

The following four goals reflect the broad benefits that will be achieved by this Program. The foundational goal—TRANSFORM THE PASSENGER EXPERIENCE—serves as the catalyst to enable the other three goals to come to fruition.


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  • Provide better service
  • Improve reliability and system performance
  • Build ridership and mode share
Enhance icon


  • Connect people and places
  • Improve safety, health, and air quality
  • Advance equity and protect against community instability and displacement
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  • Improve access to opportunity and employment
  • Connect major economic, research, and education centers
  • Enable transit-supportive and equitable land use
Advance icon


  • Increase climate change resilience
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Conserve resources
Northern California Megaregion Map

Feedback from the 2021 Goals and Objectives Survey

Thank you for taking the 2021 Goals & Objectives Survey! We read every comment and are excited to share what we heard from you about Link21 and its mission to connect Northern California. We received 2,069 responses between January and August 2021. About half of the respondents (948 people) wrote in additional comments. Here’s a summary of what people are saying about the Link21 goals & objectives.


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San Francisco Bay Area

This is an overview of qualitative data. The following percentages represent the number of survey respondents out of 754 that wrote in about each topic. Numbers do not add up to 100% because respondents could address more than one topic.

AccessConnectedness 34% EaseReliability 43% UnifiedOperations % 18 Equity 22% Environment 7% Economic Vitality 14%

Traffic in the Bay Area is way too stressful. We need more options and ways to get around. We should be able to get to all parts of the Bay Area by public transportation.

More frequent connections between Sacramento/Davis and the Bay Area would be incredible. The thought of a large, interconnected rail system throughout Northern California is so exciting and would transform our way of life here! Let's be leaders in less cars on the road and less emissions.

Better connect the region so public transportation is a valid alternative to automobile; fast, cheap, clean, environmentally friendly, equal opportunities for all.

Connect rail transportation with the region's commercial airports by putting stations right in the airport for a seamless experience both for travelers and workers at these economic centers.

Focus on connecting the major economic and educational hubs in the Bay Area.

Expanding public transit needs to be a priority!

Enhance connectivity and invest in infrastructure.

24/7 service. Make the Salesforce Transit Center a through station, connecting Capitol Corridor to the Peninsula and Caltrain to the East Bay. Reduce dependency on the automobile!

Where San Francisco Bay Area residents want new connections:

  • Sacramento
  • Across and around the Bay
  • San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose Airports
  • North Bay
  • Geary Street and Western San Francisco
  • Emeryville
  • Alameda
  • Solano County
  • San Jose and the Peninsula
  • Monterey
  • LakeTahoe
  • San Leandro
  • And more!

Reliability should be a major priority — improvements and expansions in the system don't do any good for transit users if they aren't properly maintained. Many times, my commute has been impacted by mechanical issues leading to 2+ hour delays. That is only going to compound with additional lines sharing the same tracks and is a huge concern to me.

More transfer stations to better connect the region.

Reduce commute times so people have more time to invest in their priorities, whether they be family, community, work, etc.

Seamless connections between the rail systems.

Integrated fare systems that are easy to understand. Better coordination between rail-based and road transit systems. Rail routes that are not on tracks owned and controlled by rail freight companies so passenger trains can be prioritized, and track improvements made to increase speed and frequency. One system with connected goals — all the small agencies just make for competing priorities.

Think big. Single mega projects (like the second transbay tunnel) are nice, but it needs to be connected with other major projects, like regular interval rail from Sacramento into San Francisco, or down to San Jose, phase 2 of the San Jose BART tunnel, Valley Rail, etc.

Use a single fare system across all transit agencies so trips are metered from start to destination across services and not individually for each service. Needs to operate as one system even if service is provided by multiple operators.

I think that interconnected transit systems should be the future of the Bay Area and Northern California. I would like to see a regional authority coordinating transit and working towards seamless integration. I also think effort needs to be put into reducing the number of mode transfers needed to travel within the region. I agree with the goals of the Link21 Program.

Connectedness, ecological responsibility, and accessibility to disadvantaged persons all boost our standing on the world stage. We should continue to strive to be a regional model for the world!

I think the needs of previously marginalized and over-policed communities of color should be prioritized in this plan. Understanding their needs at a deeper level will help us all get better access to transportation!

Equity for lower-income and marginalized identity groups should be a priority across the planning stages. Many times, these large transportation projects cause more disruption and lead to faster gentrification in low-income, POC-majority communities (i.e., highway construction in Oakland). Transit systems should benefit the communities they will be crossing.

Don't solely focus on San Francisco as a job hub. Post-COVID, many people will remain telecommuting, and a rail service that better connects marginalized communities to the network is a larger priority than getting wealthy tech employees to San Francisco.

Deliver the biggest mobility and connectivity gains to low-income communities of color.

Please consult with local grassroots organizations that are equity-minded! Building a more resilient transit infrastructure that centers marginalized communities and walkable/transit-oriented communities will naturally lead to combating climate change.

Enhance and improve existing BART stations near low-income, BIPOC communities. Prioritize the Coliseum BART for improvements. Work closely with the existing BIPOC communities to reimagine the station for mixed-use of entertainment and food. There's nothing to do or eat at such a heavily populated transit station. The transit-oriented development associated with the Coliseum should include community benefits to existing deep East Oakland residents.

If we want this railroad to be equitable, we need to ensure that the costs aren't outrageous. Rail and public transit are not meant to make a profit, they are a public service.

Create an inclusive cost for trips where everyone in the community can afford use of the system.

This effort should absolutely take place with an equity lens in terms of race, economic opportunity, etc. Just because you make affordable housing next to transit does not mean that everyone has the option to get rid of their cars. It's probably more important to connect neighborhoods/cities/communities that are very car-dependent to new transit, not just infill; for example, it seems to me more important to connect Manteca/Stockton to Oakland than to connect Fruitvale neighborhood to West Oakland with a new rail line or improved frequency.

I think creating a reliable system for our communities to have equal access to is critical to creating a congenial, strong economy.

Support transit that builds job centers outside of downtown San Francisco.

Create a world-class transit system.

Transit-oriented development (TOD) properly incentivized and mandated near transit hubs. No opportunity for developers to opt-out of TOD. Mandatory inclusion of 20% affordable housing in TOD. Connection of rail/bike opportunities. System designed with simplicity of Stockholm, Sweden system. The aim for the Bay Area Transit system should be the best, not pretty good, not decent. The best.

I really like these ideas. I think they represent a healthy and safe future for Northern California. As a young adult, I need access to mass transit and more job opportunities.

I think creating a reliable system for our communities to have equal access to is critical to creating a congenial, strong economy.

Reduce single-occupancy automobile use as much as possible!

The most important, overarching goal should be to protect the environment.

Northern California should move as quickly as possible on a new transbay crossing, committing to a vision based on equity and environmental principles. Our current trajectory has our society essentially falling apart in the next 50-100 years due to unmitigated climate change. High-speed rail, a new transbay tube, and better transit connections are essential parts of starting to mitigate the catastrophe that has already arrived at our doorsteps.

Our dependence on private automobiles is a failed policy. Radical reinvestment in public transit and green energy and ending subsidies for freeways and fossil fuels are critical to having our society survive the next 50 years.

Protect the environment. In addition to green house gas reduction, use the Link21 Program to reduce the footprint of development sprawl with walkable transit hubs. I hope the transbay crossing relieves BART congestion and will allow a one-seat ride from San Francisco to Sacramento, and beyond into the Sierra.

With rising sea levels and fires hitting the hilly areas more frequently, there should be more rail along 280 and 680 and other areas currently connected by car, not transit, which will be better able to support density than low-laying areas in the coming decades. It's not enough to connect my commutes to either my family, work, educational institutions, or medical services. The goal should be for every city in the Bay Area to be car-free for most people.

We also heard about…

  • Transit-oriented development
  • Land use
  • Affordable service
  • Safety 24-hour service
  • Last-mile solutions
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Sacramento Area

This is an overview of qualitative data. The following percentages represent the number of survey respondents out of 119 that wrote in about each topic. Numbers do not add up to 100% because respondents could address more than one topic.

AccessConnectedness 39% EaseReliability 52% EconomicVitality 12% Environment 5% Equity 13% UnifiedOperations 9%
I realize this is a long-term effort, but I love train travel and support more direct connectivity between Sacramento and San Francisco. I'm looking forward to receiving updates, watching the progress, and (I hope) taking a train from Sacramento right into San Francisco someday.

I am a senior. I choose not to drive distances not only because of congested highways but because of speeders and reckless drivers. The train has become my go-to for long-distance travel. I rely upon it. I would love to see attention to using the rail for travel. It seems the government is happy to bail out air travel, but little attention has been given to rail travel.

I'm really excited to learn about this project and certainly want to imagine more trains, with increased frequency/locations, as I age. I live in Sacramento and frequently travel by car to San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, and Grass Valley, and would love to see those trips not just possible by train, but convenient and workable for larger populations. It has always been silly to drive a car to these places and I can hope that trains soon replace cars in so many ways, as they have in other parts of the world. Thank you so much for offering this window to give my thanks and encouragement.

Please include El Dorado County in the system.

Where Sacramento Area residents want new connections:

  • San Francisco
  • The Bay Area
  • San Jose and the Peninsula
  • San Francisco and Oakland Airports
  • Walnut Creek
  • San Joaquin Valley
  • Lake Tahoe
  • And more!
Rail needs to be more convenient than hopping in my car. Sacramento needs better stations to connect between trains/modes.

Build as many trains as we can. This will have huge spillover benefits in terms of better city design, less automobile use, easier access to jobs, etc.

I would love to have some easier way to connect to the Bay Area from Sacramento (specifically East Bay).

It should be as easy to get around the Bay Area by train as it is in Tokyo. And make the trains on time while we're at it. Electrify the Capitol Corridor and get the trains running 125 MPH, at least. Can we get SMART to the Salesforce Transit Center, too? Yes, yes, and yes. Start building this now.

Improve regional coordination and decision-making.

Single transit pass system: Bay Area Clipper Card and Sacramento Connect Card should be accepted rather than separate Amtrak & ACE ticketing.

Transit agencies need to be abolished and run under a single entity to ensure that service is the top priority, rather than competition and turf wars between agencies.

Need seamless connections between Sacramento Valley Area to the Bay Area. Tech workers in the Bay Area telecommute. But non-tech workers travel to work from more affordable areas and are therefore, highly dependent upon efficient, low-cost, and frequent commute transportation. Build it. And they will come.

It should be understood that whilst massive transit investments such as this are powerful and crucial to connecting communities of concern (who are largely dependent on transit) to jobs, schooling, and basic necessities, they can also be inadvertent agents of gentrification. It is important for this work to incorporate a robust anti-displacement strategy so that the communities in most need of equitable transit are able to reap the benefits of the connectivity and ease of access Link21 will bring in 2040. If not already, this should be a focal point of Link21's equity framework, particularly as the displacement of low-income residents throughout the Bay Area continues to accelerate by the second. There is no justice or equity if the residents who desperately need better access to transit are no longer here in 2040 because they have been displaced. Link21's equity framework should orient itself towards one that supports affordable housing, rent control, and thorough, accessible, and multilingual community engagement.

I am excited about this project. I hope that the culturally-informed data gathering process is inclusive of minority, immigrant, and low-income families in Northern California, as well as the elderly and the low-mobility folks. Make sure to include fully accessible points of entry.

Create high-paid union jobs.

Transit-oriented development! Develop the land near transit stations for the benefit of transit (and by extension, the people). Cars bad, people good, love transit. Thank you for your work!

Build as many trains as we can. This will have huge spillover benefits in terms of better city design, less automobile use, easier access to jobs, etc.

We will need to see environmental and economic improvements.

If a transbay heavy rail link is built, it must connect with the Caltrain corridor in San Francisco. That would enable efficient travel from Silicon Valley and the Peninsula to the East Bay and areas near Sacramento. That would create work, recreational, and other opportunities.

Mobility is the key to enhancing the quality-of-life issue. To offer and provide a multi-modal system that is affordable, easily accessible, integrated, on-time, safe, and connects the region will definitely improve the air we breathe and enhance the quality of life now and for generations.

Show direct local benefits of greenhouse gas reduction and energy efficiency. Address concerns about environmental trade-offs, e.g., breaking new right of way.

We also heard about…

  • Last-mile solutions
  • Affordable service
  • Safety 24-hour service
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Monterey Bay Area

This is an overview of qualitative data. The following percentages represent the number of survey respondents out of 13 that wrote in about each topic. Numbers do not add up to 100% because respondents could address more than one topic.

PassengerExperience 92% Equity 23% EconomicVitality 15% Environment 8%

In the future, we need a rail connection that connects Monterey County with the entire Bay Area!

Connect to Santa Cruz with rail. Show funding support for Santa Cruz County rail trail, which is one of the smallest connected counties in Northern California.

Where Monterey Area residents want new connections:

  • San Francisco
  • The Bay Area
  • Santa Cruz
  • San Jose and the Peninsula
  • Sacramento

Affordable and/or free public transportation that gives access to all parts of Northern California easily and efficiently. I'd love to see easy public transportation from Santa Cruz to Sacramento, including access to all airports, city centers, train stations, BART stations, etc.

Connect to the Monterey Bay. Implement rail transit on the Santa Cruz Branch Line to help the historically and currently disenfranchised residents of South Santa Cruz County have more equitable access to jobs and education in North Santa Cruz County and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Integrate rail and station planning into the existing and planned bike network. Work with municipalities to create shared visions of the future. Create a single payment method (Clipper Card, app-based, etc.) for all routes within the network. Add safety in here somewhere. Security is often cited as a reason that people, especially women, don’t ride transit.

Let go of the idea that everyone has to go to San Francisco to work. Put jobs in outlying areas…gasp, people might then want to live there.

Create stations that help fund transit by collecting commercial and residential rents.

Please ensure that bikes/cyclists can be accommodated. It’s not a green plan if cyclists have to commute outside popular hours.

We also heard about…

  • Affordable service
  • Funding
  • Safety Housing
  • Last-mile solutions
  • Airport connections
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Northern San Joaquin Valley

This is an overview of qualitative data. The following percentages represent the number of survey respondents out of 11 that wrote in about each topic. Numbers do not add up to 100% because respondents could address more than one topic.

PassengerExperience 82% Equity 11% EconomicVitality 9% Environment 9%

Bring more service to and from the Central Valley.

As a Lathrop resident, I would love to take transit to my Bay Area job, but it is so much slower and more expensive than driving that it is hard to justify.

Make public transportation less expensive. Regional monthly fare pass. Better morning service to Gilroy/Salinas from San Jose and/or Merced/Los Banos.

Where Northern San Joaquin residents want new connections:

  • San Francisco
  • The Bay Area
  • San Jose and the Peninsula
  • Gilroy and Salinas
  • Stockton and the Central Valley
Please make sure that the price is attractive and feasible to those who need this form of transportation to earn a living. Also, the older population needs public transportation in lieu of driving to see family and friends.

Make public transportation less expensive.

More rail routes are needed to connect housing being constructed in Patterson/Tracy area to San Jose and San Francisco jobs.

I am very supportive of the goals of the Link21 Program. Allowing for quicker, easier, and more environmentally-friendly access around the Megaregion will be imperative.

We also heard about…

  • Affordable service
  • 24-hour service
  • Fare Integration
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