The Market Analysis in Action: Where We Travel in Northern California
Link21 will improve train service in Northern California, bringing you connections to new places and opportunities. Our main goal is to transform the passenger experience. Results from the Market Analysis show us where people travel by train around Northern California, and where more people might take the train if they had access to good service. The Market Analysis is used to help us identify places that Link21 might serve for further investigation. Identifying areas with unmet potential for train travel guides us in developing concepts that could maximize use by new riders in 2050. These concepts are being evaluated using the Link21 Business Case framework, which analyzes passenger, societal, economic, and environmental benefits and risks to help ensure the Program meets its stated goals and objectives.
To figure out where new train service improvements would have the most benefits, we started with data. We studied travel to and from more than 200 locations, with an emphasis on serving priority populations. That adds up to more than 40,000 possible travel connections. For simplicity, we consolidated these 200 locations into 36 “megaclusters” to best understand travel patterns.
The Market Analysis lets us examine any location to show where we have the highest unmet potential for train travel to and from the selected location.
Unmet transbay potential for travel (shown above in orange) is all of the people who don't currently take the trains for trips across the Bay (between San Francisco and Oakland), but might if service were good and convenient for them. Bigger bubbles indicate more unmet potential for this trip.
And, more importantly, we can see that people want to travel back and forth across the San Francisco Bay by train, which is where we experience the most congestion and transit overcrowding (pre-pandemic). Currently, many people drive to get where they need to go. The Market Analysis shows these key findings:
Key Finding #1: A lot more people would take trains if it were convenient
There’s a lot of unmet potential for train travel across Northern California. Most of the unmet potential is clustered in the Bay Area, but we can also see potential across the Megaregion. Ultimately, the data shows where improvements could be made to the existing network to serve current and future riders.
Northern California has been growing rapidly and our population is projected to continue to grow from 12.7 million to 14.9 million by 2050.
Our current train network has not kept pace with the growth and complexity of the Megaregion. We have an opportunity to solve some of our transportation challenges. Better train service will make traveling easier, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and car accidents, and better serve priority populations.
To unlock the Megaregion’s train service potential, we need to relieve the biggest transportation bottleneck in Northern California.
Key finding #2: We need a new train crossing of the Bay to meet unmet potential for transbay travel
A new crossing between Oakland and San Francisco would relieve our Megaregion’s worst transportation bottleneck and have wide-reaching benefits for future connectivity across Northern California.
The Market Analysis found that of the total unmet potential for travel by train throughout the Megaregion, 45% of unmet demand (of trips greater than 3 miles) involves a trip across the San Francisco Bay. This means many more people would take a train across the Bay if they had access to good service.
Watch Andrew Tang, BART's Manager of Program Evaluation for Link21, explain this finding:
Key Finding #3: A new train crossing of the Bay would have widespread and cascading benefits
There's a high concentration of unmet potential for train travel in areas that are close to a crossing between Oakland and San Francisco, but people from all around the Megaregion would benefit from a new crossing.
The map below shows the unmet potential for transbay travel for people moving to and from the Central Oakland megacluster. You can see that there is unmet train potential to locations all around San Francisco, showing where connections could serve the most riders. This confirms that many people from Central Oakland want quick and convenient train travel across the Bay. We don’t see significant unmet potential in downtown San Francisco because BART already serves that area well.
If we zoom out, we can see that unmet potential for transbay travel by train to and from Central Oakland extends all the way down the Peninsula.
Now let’s look at unmet potential for transbay travel by train for people moving to and from downtown San Francisco, and particularly, the number of people that want to go between downtown San Francisco and the East Bay. For example, there’s significant unmet potential for travel to Emeryville and to the Grand Lake neighborhood in Oakland. We can also see unmet potential in Alameda, which currently doesn’t have any train service.
Zooming out, we can also see significant unmet potential for train travel between San Francisco and Richmond, Hercules, Vallejo, and even San Jose.
The benefits of a new train crossing of the Bay extends much further than the Bay Area. Look at how many people would take a train from San Francisco to places around the Megaregion if train service were good.
The new crossing would improve connectivity for all of Northern California. We’re working with our partners to connect Northern California by train, as envisioned by the California State Rail Plan. The map below shows the existing train service in Northern California.
Many major new projects will be built as Link21 is being developed. By creating a vital link across the Bay, a new crossing will make other investments in train service more effective connecting to existing and planned routes.
Imagine the possibilities to connect Northern California!
Introducing the Concepts
You need a destination before you embark on a journey.
The Link21 Market Analysis highlights where train service improvements could have the most benefits. The Link21 Market Analysis is part of the first building block of Link21. These findings are directly informing the Link21 concepts, a series of potential passenger rail solutions.
One thing is certain: our first project will be a new connection across the Bay to address the biggest area of unmet potential for travel by train. Therefore, every concept developed by Link21 will include a new train crossing between San Francisco and Oakland. Check out the concepts.
Explore More on the Market Analysis
By the way, everything you explored above dealt with unmet potential for train travel as it pertains to crossing the Bay. But our Market Analysis also determined total unmet potential for train travel to and from places all over Northern California. This gives further insight into where passenger rail improvements would make travel around the Megaregion more convenient.