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Two million. That’s the expected growth of the Bay Area’s population in twenty years. With an expected total population of nine-and-a-half million, expanding roads and building more housing isn’t enough to accommodate such a large number. We need to focus on the certain service that has proved very significant in the growth and movement of big cities. We need to focus on transit.
I’ve recently attended the YouChoose/Plan Bay Area workshop for Alameda County in Berkeley. It centered on the predicted growth of the Bay Area, and focused on the transportation and community fixes needed to accommodate this growth. It was a forum designed not only to educate about the options, but also to gather community input.
Here’s my feedback: when we’re planning cleaner, greener, and better sustaining communities of the future, public transportation should definitely be prioritized.
One key way to do this is to expand transit services to rather underserved areas, especially those that are in the far outskirts of the main metropolis. New citizens with housing in further areas wouldn’t have to drive as much to get to work or school in the major cities.
In turn, the reduction in driving eases pollution. According to the Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area’s advocate for open space for fifty years, the Bay Area needs to reduce its emissions by fifteen percent by 2035. The use of alternative transportation, as well as cleaner transit, will greatly help achieve this goal. It’ll also reduce the demand for oil.
As a result, cities will become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. More transit allows people to walk to the train station, bus stop, or ferry terminal nearest them. The cut-down on cars allows more room for bikers to travel to their destinations. There would also be more room, and cleaner air, to take a walk or bike ride for leisure and relaxation.
But most importantly, the growth of transit also influences the growth of housing and businesses, particularly along major thoroughfares. Instead of development in any random place, which would require keeping transit up to speed, development along central corridors allows infrastructure and transit service to be maximized. People would also pay more for a residence or commercial building closer to transit service, rather than one that’s not.
The focus on public transportation is vital to building better communities. With transit, cleaner air, and more space for healthy travel, we get the prize of a more livable area for everyone to enjoy!
If you want to weigh in on this issue of the population growth and what should be done to accommodate it, you can attend the next YouChoose/Plan Bay Area workshop for Alameda County on Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, at 5:30 PM. It will be held in the MetroCenter Auditorium at the MTC and ABAG Headquarters building, at 101 Eighth Street (at Madison Street) in Oakland. The building is directly across the street from Lake Merritt BART.