Many of my buyers moving from San Francisco to Marin are daunted by the prospect of getting around their new hometown with just one car – or for the truly sainted and courageous, no car at all. But it can work.
Two big improvements coming up in alternative transit are going to make it easier:
A little history: Marin opted out of a BART system back in the sixties for fear of suburban sprawl. This is probably a big part of the reason Marin towns like Mill Valley, Larkspur, and San Anselmo managed to keep their small town character — and the whole county kept a lot of open space in between.
Today, Marin is served by Golden Gate Transit buses, ferries and bike and pedestrian paths. The big news is the upcoming SMART train linking Marin and Sonoma along already existing railroad rights-of-way. Planning and funding are almost complete, and the rail is projected operation in 2015.
Golden Gate Transit buses do a great job for commuters heading to San Francisco for work, as do the ferries from Larkspur, Tiburon and Sausalito. Getting around within the County is where things fall apart. While buses and shuttles do serve the county, there is much room for improvement.
Still, in the 16 years I’ve lived in Larkspur, worked in Mill Valley, and served for a few years on the Safe Routes to Schools boards, I’ve seen lots of exciting improvements: better bike paths, more carpooling arrangements, far more people biking across the Golden Gate bridge to and from work, voter approval of the Sonoma-Marin train, and our first rails-to-trails conversion.
Scheduled to open at the end of November, this former railroad tunnel will serve as the bike/pedestrian link connecting southern to central Marin. It begins at Larkspur Landing (which is by the ferry AND the nexus of several multi-use paths) and ends in downtown San Rafael — which is the county’s central bus connection hub.
With Golden Gate transit buses and ferries equipped to carry bikes, getting around without a car will be much easier.