Getting Around Marin Today

Marin is home to nearly 250,000 people, and is a recreational destination, with a growing employment sector. Residents, commuters and visitors travel around and through the county every day, presenting challenges and opportunities for our transportation systems. As of 2014, approximately 75% of commute trips were made by car, 10% by transit and 5% by bike or walking. 10% of people in the county telecommute and do not generate commute trips.

What works well:

  • Marin Transit is expanding bus service throughout the county and Ferry ridership is at a record high
  • Safe Routes to School programs and yellow bus services include safe pathways to local schools and crossing guards to reduce the number of vehicle trips to schools in many communities
  • Marin provides robust services and transit information to seniors and people living with disabilities
  • Work hours are increasingly flexible and alternative work hours can alleviate peak commute hour congestion
  • New improvements to the transportation network include SMART service and a 3rd lane on the Richmond San Rafael Bridge
  • Major construction continues to expand HOV lanes in the Marin Sonoma Narrows
  • New bike and pedestrian facilities have been opened including the central Marin Ferry Connector over Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
  • New technologies make carpooling and alternatives to drive-alone trips easier

Challenges

  • Approximately 75% of commute trips are by car
  • Our demographics are shifting, the county population has grown slightly, with large changes in school age and senior populations both with unique transportation needs.
  • The road network across the county is limited, only a few highways and major roads provide most of the regional connections
  • The road network is aging and requires maintenance, and in some areas is susceptible to damage from sea level rise
  • Most bus service relies on highly congested areas of the 101 corridor and other major roads
  • Some Park-and-Ride facilities are over capacity for services with direction connections to San Francisco, and ferry ridership has increased 30 to 50% at Marin County ferry terminals
  • The hilly terrain creates obstacles for transit, walking, and bicycle access.

More details about Getting Around Marin

Demographic Trends

Marin County has 112,000 homes with an average of 2.56 people per household and a median income of $91,500.

Between 2010 and 2015 there was a slight increase in population (approximately 4%), and growing school enrollment.

Nearly a quarter (21%) of Marin’s population is over the age of 65.

Current Transportation Challenges

As of 2014, approximately 75% of commute trips were made by car, 10% by transit and 5% by bike or walking. 10% of people in the county telecommute and do not generate commute trips. These numbers have been relatively consistent over the past few decades.

The road network provides few opportunities for north-south and east-west travel, creating limited access to communities and employment areas and requires long travel distances for many residents.

The road network in the county is aging, and is susceptible to sea level rise.

Commutes times have jumped in Marin from an average of 27.8 minutes in 2006 to 32.7 minutes in 2014.  Estimated vehicle miles traveled show residents of Marin who work outside the county travel approximately 38.1 miles a day, and workers who live outside the county but work locally travel an approximate distance of 49.5 miles a day.

Transit

Currently, Marin County has  local bus services, ADA and paratransit services, regional transit service, ferry service to San Francisco and is awaiting SMART train service to begin in 2016.

Local transit service includes:

Regional transit service includes:

Local transit services are mostly funded through an approved local transportation sales tax passed in 2004.

To reach bus transit and ferry service, many residents drive to Park-and-Ride facilities or ferry terminals and new, updated transit routes are planned to accommodate expanded ridership and connect to SMART stations.

The hilly terrain and suburban development in Marin make it difficult to provide bus service to many neighborhoods. Therefore, bus service is primarily available along US 101 and major arterials, where congestion slows travel times.

 

Transit Ridership and Users

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In Marin County, the majority of transit rides have a trip end in San Rafael.

Local Marin bus service carries nearly 3.5 million passenger trips per year. Service that provides a direct connection to San Francisco carries nearly 2 million trips per year.  Combined with ferry service, approximately 7.8 million passengers are served each year by transit. Between 2005 and 2015, Golden Gate Ferry ridership increased 50% at the Sausalito terminal and 30% at the Larkspur Terminal.

Many of Marin’s minority, low income, and youth residents rely on local bus service to get around. Among Marin Transit riders, 21% are under the age of 18 and 57% earn under $25,000 per year.

Walking and Biking

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Walking trips are limited by the hilly terrain and indirect paths to reach jobs, services, and recreation areas.

The Marin County bicycle network includes shared lanes, bike lanes, and separated mixed-use paths, and serves commuters, short trips, and people riding for recreation.

There are new connections into San Rafael from north San Rafael and Central Marin. Local bike and pedestrian improvements have also been completed to improve school access.

Since 2000, there have been 140 infrastructure projects built and/or planned that are designed to increase safety and encourage children to walk or bicycle to school.

Senior Mobility

More than 20% of Marin residents are over 62 years of age today. That means there will be more aging seniors with limited mobility in ten to 20 years. Now is the time to plan for a transportation system that serves residents of all ages, and provides for those with limited mobility needs.

Marin County’s Travel Navigators Program provides information on the many options that are available to senior and residents with disabilities who are unable to drive themselves.

  • ADA Paratransit provides local and intercounty trips
  • Volunteer driver programs provide 1,300 rides/month
  • Catch-a-Ride voucher-less discount taxi service provides 1,878 rides/month
  • Local and regional paratransit provides service throughout Marin and connecting to Sonoma and San Francisco Counties

Getting to School

School trips make up a significant portion of morning commute traffic. Marin County is a national leader in developing Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs to provide families with choices and alternatives to driving. Marin’s SRTS has been in operation for 16 years and from 2011 through 2015, the county has grown the share of green trips to schools to 50%, even as enrollment continues to increase.

  • 58 schools participate in Safe Routes to School; that is over 26,500 students.
  • Every middle school and 5 of Marin’s 7 high schools participate
  • 5 school districts offer yellow bus service to reduce school related traffic.
  • 8 school districts participate in Marin Transit’s Youth Pass program and 5 school districts receive transportation services through Marin Transit.
  • All College of Marin students have unlimited access to local Marin Transit buses.

Driving

Most traffic congestion in Marin is concentrated on US 101 and along major arterials.

The highest levels of congestion occur at the county gateways during commute periods, with highest volumes in the San Francisco direction on the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning, and northbound US 101 connecting to Sonoma County in the evening.

Traffic volumes are increasing at a higher rate than population growth or housing growth, reflecting the economic growth of the region since the 2008 recession.

Work in the Narrows is ongoing, a third lane is being added on the Richmond Bridge, and local jurisdictions and the County have received nearly $30 million to maintain and improve local roads over the last 10 years from the Marin transportation sales tax.