San Rafael Transit Center Last Chance for Feedback on the San Rafael Transit Center

The San Rafael Transit Center is one of the most important transportation hubs in Marin County. Knitting together both north/south and east/west travel, it sees thousands of passengers a day, and in the cleaner, greener future we hope to bring about, thousands more on top of that. Our investments today will shape the experiences of a generation of transit users.  

In 2018 we called upon our members to speak out for a walkable, bikeable Transit Center. Now, after several years in planning, Golden Gate Transit has selected a preferred alternative, one that we feel is the best of the possibilities under consideration.

Of the three alternatives (including one that would have relocated the transit center under the 101 freeway), the “Move Whistlestop” alternative provides the greatest accessibility improvements for people traveling to and from the station by foot or by bike. Below are some of the highlights of the future design. 

  • Creates two blocks of two-way protected bike lane on Tamalpais Avenue between 4th Street and 2nd Street, connecting to the new SMART pathway on Francisco Boulevard East. While this project does not complete the North-South Greenway through Downtown San Rafael, it takes important steps in that direction.

  • Consolidated transit experience for riders transferring between buses and SMART, compared with the status quo, which requires riders to cross streets to do so.

  • Whistlestop building would be relocated to the west side of Tamalpais, and would provide a customer service area with restrooms and other amenities.

Though not specific to the “Move Whistlestop” alternative, there are a number of other features that MCBC is pleased to see included in the initial design:

  • Bicycle parking and long-term lockers.

  • Shade and enhanced tree canopy.

Additional features incorporated into the project, and more in-depth background on the overall goals, can be found in this September 14th presentation, linked here

Where the Plan Falls Short

While we are otherwise greatly pleased with the selection of the “Move Whistlestop” alternative, there are a couple areas that we feel should be improved.

Pick-Up Area Conflicts With Bike Path

The conceptual designs depict the area of W. Tamalpais immediately north of 4th Street as designated for pick-up/drop-off uses, i.e. taxi and Uber/Lyft. Per the 2018 San Rafael Bicycle Master Plan, this street is planned for a protected bike lane. Such a plan is clearly in conflict with the pick-up area, which would see a high rate of parking turnover and lots of people throwing open their passenger doors. 

Double Right Turn from Hetherton to 3rd

Downtown San Rafael is a very dangerous place to walk and the intersection of 3rd/Hetherton is no exception. Between 2010 and 2019, 16 people were hit while walking at that intersection, two of whom were killed (a 77-year-old woman in 2016 and a 67-year-old woman in 2014). Both crashes occurred when a driver in a double turn lane struck a pedestrian in the crosswalk across the south leg of the intersection. Rather than remove the threat to pedestrian safety, the city simply removed the crosswalk, requiring pedestrians to walk farther to cross. 

The plan proposes adding dual right turn lanes conflicting with the western leg crosswalk, which will be a threat to pedestrians. We recommend reducing this to a single right turn lane, in order to provide more safety for pedestrians in this busy area and hopefully preclude another horrific crash at this intersection. 

What You Can Do

The draft environmental impact report (DEIR) is open for comment through October 12th, 2021. After receiving feedback from the public, Golden Gate Transit will make another round of revisions (hopefully incorporating our suggestions) and publish the final plan. The timeline after that is uncertain, as funding for the construction of the transit center is tied up in a lawsuit before the California Supreme Court

To echo our comments on the plan, you can send an email to Feel free to add your own additional feedback on the DEIR – you can find the executive summary here and here in its entirety.


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