In the next five years, Sonoma County residents will see the completion of a number of major transportation infrastructure projects that will transform the way we move about the region.

By New Year’s Eve, 2018, we should be able to travel up and down the Highway 101 corridor on SMART trains connecting the Larkspur Ferry with the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport and, perhaps, farther north.

The expanded airport will be able to handle larger jets that serve cities east of California like Denver, with useful connections to the east coast.

And there is a good chance that, by then, Highway 101 will have a continuous carpool lane from Central Windsor to Sausalito. Planners hope that having expanded transportation options will spur growth and attract jobs to the region.

Golden Gate Transit, which operates commuter buses from Santa Rosa to Marin County and San Francisco, is considering adding more service in Sonoma County. The new Golden Gate Transit depot in San Francisco will link up with the Caltrain line meaning that a commuter in Santa Rosa could theoretically get from home to a job in San Jose on one bus and one train (though that would be one long trip!)

Golden Gate Transit says that half a million Sonoma County residents ride their buses each year. I am curious to hear from readers who use Golden Gate Transit to commute to Marin County or San Francisco. What is the commute like on a bus? Would you benefit from expanded service to, say, Windsor or Rincon Valley?

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  1. Ben

    A few thoughts:

    - Expanded airline service at STS will be nice. But it’ll be completely useless if we continue to see the same massive fares that Alaska/Horizon charges. With the current situation, it’s still a LOT cheaper to just take the Airport Express bus to SFO for $68 round trip to save $200 or more on your airfare compared to flying out of STS. A bit ridiculous if you ask me.

    - Continuous HOV lanes will continue to be useless if they don’t fix several current problems such as too-short on and off ramps along the corridor. See Todd Rd in Santa Rosa as one example. We should not have HOV along these weak parts of the corridor because we NEED three lanes of traffic flow until these exits and on-ramps are fixed. Why doesn’t Caltrans fix these weak links in the chain?

    - Carpool lanes will also continue to fail to meet their stated goals if they are underutilized while the rest of traffic sits still spewing fumes into the atmosphere for 40 minutes on what should be a 20 minute commute (for example). We’re NOT cutting down on traffic or helping the environment if a significant amount of people using HOV are driving solo in an electric car or are a mom with a baby in the back seat. If HOV is supposed to be used to reduce traffic and make the commute better for EVERYBODY, let’s make a rule that it’s ONLY to be used by cars with at least TWO PEOPLE WHO HOLD VALID DRIVER’S LICENSES in the car. Because if the second person doesn’t drive, it’s not a carpool!

    - Do we really want to encourage growth? We can’t even keep up with the current size of Sonoma County’s population and traffic as it is. Is it a good idea to encourage MORE people to live here, so there will be MORE traffic, so that in 5-10 years we will have to pay for a bunch of work on the highway all over again to fix the new congestion? What’s that saying, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

    - In addition to that, should we also encourage such long commutes? We should encourage people to stay LOCAL. Every minute you spend commuting is a minute away from your family, a minute away from working on a hobby, a minute away from being able to cook a healthy meal — a minute subtracted from your quality of life. Not good! I do not know how or why people put up with it, honestly. If you work in San Francisco you should move there.

    December 27th, 2013 10:30 pm

  2. stuck in the narrows

    Ben couldn’t have said it any better….especially the last paragraph. Commuting is one thing, sitting in gridlock IN THE COUNTRY is another. We move to the country for quality of life, but , because the planning in Sonoma County has been moronic, things just keep getting worse. I never see any traffic in the HOV lanes, EVER. Drive from Petaluma to SR at 5 pm in middle lane 35 minutes, in HOV lane going 80, 17 minutes. In Petaluma, we need a bridge at the Petaluma BLVD S. circle -going over the river to the In-n-out burger. This would reduce a ton of crosstown traffic, especially at D street. It is a joke there is only one way accross town.
    Dear Road warrior: please walk me through how the HOV lanes will be complete by 2018, when the interchange -bridge work wont even be done until 2016-2017, and the entire highway at the Sonoma -Marin county line needs to be shifted to the West…that will be a 3-4 year project alone!!!

    December 30th, 2013 10:06 am

  3. Volt guy

    I don’t know which HOV lanes you are looking at stuck, the ones I am in are always too crowded. It is especially fun when someone is too scared to drive in the them and refuses to go 5 miles fast then the number two lane, regardless of how few people are in the HOV lane.

    January 2nd, 2014 3:29 pm

  4. ReallyBen?

    Hey Ben, it sounds like you have all the answers. “If you work in San Francisco you should move there.” Really? Okay, just as soon as you give me a raise to afford to buy a home in San Francisco. And you will buy out my house in Sonoma County too, right?. Oh, and while you’re at it, you’ll find my wife a job in SF since she’d have to commute back to Sonoma County if I moved there. And since you have all the answers, I’m sure you can find my kids a better school in SF than in Sonoma County, right? Oh, you can’t fix all that? At least you were right about one thing, “I do not know how or why people put up with it, honestly.” Since you don’t know, then maybe you should keep your smug opinions about how others should live to yourself. Just maybe.

    January 6th, 2014 1:48 pm

  5. paul

    I take Golden Gate transit bus to SF and back Monday through Friday.
    it’s a great way to commute. One hour to the Golden Gate plaza in the morning and about 1.5 to 2 hours back in the afternoon depending on which bus I take.
    Fares are a bit high but worth the stress free commute and ware on my car. Busses are clean and the drivers are great.
    More should give it a try.

    January 7th, 2014 9:54 am

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