With residents facing some of the highest commute times in the Bay Area, Marin County’s Transportation Authority and cities have been tackling the problem on many fronts, encouraging schoolchildren to walk or bike to work, widening the 101 “Narrows” and other roadways, and enhancing access to ferry and public transport.
Marin is no longer simply a bedroom community to San Francisco. It now attracts workers from other areas because it has more jobs available than workers and because more than a third of its own worker-residents (35.4% of them) travel to work outside the county--primarily to San Francisco and Sonoma County.
Coincidentally, it's estimated that a third of jobs in Marin County are now held by commuters who are not residents of the county. Other statistics that planners and policy makers are looking at are: 66% of Marin commuters drive alone; 9.7% use public transit; and 8.5% carpool. Ten percent work at home. The average commute time from Marin County is 32.3 minutes; San Rafael residents have the shortest commute time, at 28.4 minutes.
Transportation Authority of Marin; U.S. Census; Metropolitan Transportation
Transportation Improvements and Plans
The most obvious improvement in the transit corridor between Marin and Sonoma counties is the widening of 17 miles of US101 from four to six lanes at “The Narrows” by adding one high-occupancy vehicle lane in each direction. New interchanges and frontage roads are also being built to remove unsafe access, and bikeways are being added between Novato and Petaluma.
Other projects include repairing the roadways and improving
traffic flow on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard from Highway 101 to the Ross Town limits.
(slated for spring and summer of 2019 – 2020) and the repair of the 2.25-mile
roadway between Lagunitas Road and Nicasio Valley Road, completed last fall.
Sir Francis Drake endures 40,000 cars per day.
East Blithedale in Mill Valley has been striped between Nelson and Amicita avenues for two eastbound travel lanes and had bicycle lanes created on Shoreline Highway. Still to come: bike lanes and more sidewalk along this road through the freeway exchange.
The Miller Avenue Streetscape Project has won universal approval for making one of the two central corridors in that city more accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit users, and visitors. Improvements ranged from sewers to street lights and incorporated buffered bike lanes, flashing pedestrian crossings, and wider sidewalks on 1.8 miles of road between Almonte Boulevard and Sunnyside Avenue.
To encourage energy savings and efficiency, TAM has launched several electric vehicle (EV) initiatives—from installing charging stations for cars at the parking lots of the SMART train stations (as well as free bike-sharing) to integrating electric buses in the Marin Transit system.
A highly successful project is the Safe Routes to School program, launched 16 years ago, but now seeing the fruits of its labor. It has expanded from 5 to 58 schools and has maintained an average 50% participation rate by students in all of the middle schools and five of the county’s seven public high schools. They are encouraged to walk or bike to school.
More people are taking to the increased ferry and bus service offered in Marin, too. Six percent (350) of ferry riders are using Golden Gate buses for half of their commute. These days, it’s all about intermodal!