Monday, August 06, 2007

A Failing Grade for the MTC (Organizational Skills)

As I wroter earlier, the Department of Transportation wants to know how good a job our Metropolitan Transportation Commission is doing, and is accepting citizens' input by email at Here's my response:

If the MTC were doing a good job of organizing transit in the Bay Area, I wouldn't need to know how many transit agencies there were, or which were responsible for which lines.

Today, if I want to travel beyond my own county, or make any transfer between transit modes,

  • I will have to spend a lot of time researching schedules before I begin.
  • I have to buy a pay a new ticket for each leg.
  • I will probably waste a lot of time waiting for connections.

If the MTC were doing it's job well

  • There would be one, clear map and timetable of all major transit routes.
  • There would be a fare system (perhaps dividing the region into zones) giving access to all systems with one ticket.
  • Schedules would be coordinated for timed transfers.

The MTC is not totally ignorant of these problems, but the only solutions it seems capable of imagining are ones that add more complexity to a broken system, rather than actual fixes. They have sunk $150 million into TransLink, a farecard system which may (someday) allow riders to transfer between systems without literally digging through their pockets for change, but still requires multiple fares to be paid. They have built an online trip planner--whose main utility is in documenting just how poorly coordinated our region's transit is, through the onerous itineraries it provides--but are incapable of printing a simple, unified, regional map.


larry said...

Some Day go to London. I've done a fair share of traveling and NO public transit system even comes close. The Tube does have its share of problems, but with a paper Travel Card or better yet an Oyster Card with its daily capping you can ride the area larger than Bay Area with one ticket with great all around transport. London may have forty bus companies, but for the user they are one, it many have ten rail companies, but to user they are one. Transport for London is like the MTC, but it has some guts and power.

Susan said...

No wonder so many people on the peninsula just don't even think about public transit if it means going further than their own town!