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Market Analysis

The Market Analysis in Action: Where We Travel in Northern California

Link21 will improve passenger rail 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 rail around Northern California, and where more people might take rail if they had access to good service.

To figure out where new passenger rail 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 total travel connections. For simplicity, we consolidated these 200 locations into 36 “megaclusters” to best understand travel patterns.

Origin locations for market analysis in Megaregion

The Market Analysis lets us examine any location to show where we have the highest unmet demand for passenger rail to and from the selected location.

Unmet transbay travel potential in all directions throughout the Megaregion

Unmet transbay rail demand (shown above in orange) is all of the people who don't currently use passenger rail for transbay trips, but would if service were good and convenient for them. Bigger bubbles indicate more unmet rail demand.

And, more importantly, we can see that people want to travel back and forth via rail across the San Francisco Bay, which is where we experience the most congestion and transit overcrowding. Currently, many people drive to get where they need to go. The Market Analysis shows us the unmet demand for passenger rail, which leads us to our first key finding:

Northern California’s demographics are changing rapidly. Our population is projected to grow from 12.7 million to 14.9 million by 2050.

Our current passenger rail network has not kept pace with the growth and complexity of the Megaregion. We have an opportunity to solve our transportation challenges. Better rail service will make traveling easier, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and car accidents, and better serve priority populations.

To unlock the Megaregion’s passenger rail potential, we need to relieve the biggest transportation bottleneck in Northern California, which brings us to our next finding:

The Market Analysis found that of the total unmet rail demand 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 rail service.

Watch Andrew Tang, BART's Manager of Program Evaluation for Link21, explain this finding:

Let’s look at some examples of how this new connection will open up new travel opportunities with our next key finding:

The map below shows the unmet transbay rail demand for people who travel to and from Oakland. You can see that there is unmet rail demand to locations all around San Francisco, showing where train connections could serve the most riders. This confirms that many people from Central Oakland want quick and convenient rail travel across the Bay. We don’t see significant unmet rail demand in downtown San Francisco because BART already serves that area.

Unmet transbay travel demand from Oakland to destinations in San Francisco County

If we zoom out, we can see that unmet rail demand to and from Central Oakland extends all the way down the Peninsula.

Unmet transbay travel potential from Oakland to destinations in San Francisco and the peninsula

Now let’s look at rail travel demand for people traveling to and from downtown San Francisco, and particularly, the number of people that want to go between San Francisco and the East Bay. For example, there’s significant unmet demand for travel to Emeryville and to the Grand Lake neighborhood in Oakland. We can also see unmet demand in Alameda, which currently doesn’t have any passenger rail.

Unmet transbay travel potential from San Francisco to destinations in Alameda County

Zooming out, we can also see significant unmet demand for train travel between San Francisco and Richmond, Hercules, Vallejo, and even San Jose.

Unmet transbay travel potential from San Francisco to destinations throughout the Megaregion

The benefits of a new transbay rail crossing extend much further than the Bay Area. Look at how many people would take a train from San Francisco to places around the Megaregion if rail service were good.

Unmet transbay travel potential from San Francisco to destinations throughout the Megaregion, wider view

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 passenger rail service in Northern California.

Existing rail service map for the Northern California Megaregion

Many major new rail projects will be built as Link21 is being developed. By creating a vital link across the Bay, a new transbay crossing will make all other investments in passenger rail more effective by connecting to existing and planned routes.

Imagine the possibilities to connect Northern California!

Introducing the Example Program Concepts

You need a destination before you embark on a journey.

The Link21 Market Analysis highlights where passenger rail improvements would have the most benefits. The Link21 Market Analysis is part of the first building block of Link21. These findings are directly informing the Link21 Program 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 rail demand. Therefore, every concept developed by Link21 will include a new transbay crossing. Check out the example concepts.

Explore More on the Market Analysis

By the way, everything you explored above dealt with unmet rail demand as it pertains to the transbay crossing. But our Market Analysis also determined total unmet rail demand 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.

To learn more about the Link21 Market Analysis, you can take a deep dive into the full Market Analysis Report or explore the market analysis map tool.