August 13, 2018

Transportation: San Francisco Bay Area's Broken Public Transportation System

This is the first of occasional posts I'll be making discussion Transportation Issues.  And anyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows there are a lot ... A LOT ... of transportation issues to rant about!

Take public transportation for instance.  Or the lack thereof.  In the San Francisco Bay Area, the public transportation system is downright broken.

It's true that huge amounts of money are thrown at public transportation, including gas tax money, ballot proposition money, and money from the 5 Bay Area bridge tolls .  However, but a person often can't get where the person needs to go using public transportation.  Or if the person can get the the location, she can't get to the location in a reasonable amount of time, or at the time she needs to be there.

And then there's the public transportation crime and safety issue, but that's a whole other discussion.

Take this example.

I volunteer at the Bray Courthouse in the county seat of Martinez, California.  If I left my house this morning at 11:10 and drove to the Courthouse, the 11.1 mile trip via Interstate 680 would take me about 18 minutes.

No complaints there.  But heck, what if I wanted to use public transportation.  A person should be able to get to the main Courthouse in the county seat using public transportation, and do so  with little hassle in a reasonable amount of time ... Right?

Nope.  If I were to use public transportation, here is the Odyssey From Hell trip I would have.

First off, I'd have to walk 0.8 miles from my house to the bus stop.  I get on a bus at 11:51 AM, and ride the bus for 16 minutes to downtown Pleasant Hill.  During that 16 minutes, the bus makes 11 stops.  (Oh, and by the way, downtown Pleasant Hill is a mere 1.3 mile drive by car from the bus stop.)

I than wait get off bus #1 and wait 23 minutes for bus #2.  I get on bus #2 at  12:23 PM.  I ride bus #2 to Martinez for 29 minutes, during which the bus makes 31 stops.  I finally get to Martinez, and get off at the bus stop on Marina Vista and Court streets.  I then walk 0.2 miles to the Bray Courthouse, eventually arriving at the Courthouse at 1:18 PM.

And this assumes the buses are running on time.

So here are my options for a Monday trip from my Pleasant Hill home to the Bray Courthouse in Martinez, CA at  11:10 AM:

(1)  Drive my car to the Bray Courthouse  via Interstate 680.  Route is 11.1 miles.  Trip would take about 18 minutes; I would arrive at  11:28 AM.

(2)  Take public transportation to the Bray Courthouse.  Trip would require that I walk 1.0 miles, and take 2 different bus connections that travel God knows how many miles.  Cost for each bus connection is $1.  Oh, and during the time I'm wondering the Pleasant Hill/Martinez area on the buses, the buses would make 41 stops during the combined 39 minutes I'm on the buses.  Total time for the trip (assuming the 2 buses are running on time), from leaving my home to arriving at the Bray Courthouse?  1 hour and 27 minutes, arriving at 1:18 PM.

Why would anyone use this grossly inefficient public transportation?  A 11.1 mile car trip that would take 18 minutes is turned into a 1 hour and 27 minute odyssey with public transportation, including a mile of walking and 2 buses?  That's 1 hour and 9 minutes longer.  And 1 mile of walking to boot.  Crazy!

Just one example of public transportation that can't get you where you need to go, when you need to get there.  And do so in a timely and efficient manner.  I hate to drive, and would love to use public transportation.  Sad to see so much money wasted on the broken and inefficient San Francisco Bay Area public transportation system.

About Mary Rae Fouts, EA

Mary Rae Fouts, EA provides tax, insurance consulting, and expert witness services to clients who have technical or complex concerns.  For more information about Mary and her professional services visit

Mary Rae Fouts


  1. public transportation never works. look at boston and the big hole tunnel they dug.

  2. And its filthy. I don't wear my shoes inside my home that I wear on public buses


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