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Transit and Trails: Connecting People to Nature on Public Transit

| Saturday October 31st, 2009 | 4 Comments

City bus gg80_to_sf_webNature pic sunset_matt_davis_fog2_web

Don’t own a car, but want to get out to one of the Bay Area’s hundreds of parks and trails? Or perhaps, you are trying to reduce your carbon footprint and wondering how to get to your favorite hike without using your car?

Transit and Trails is a new resource for outdoor enthusiasts who want to leave their cars behind and easily get information on how to take the bus (or ferry) to reach Bay Area hiking trails and campgrounds.

A project of the Bay Area Open Space Council (BAOSC), the new interactive website identifies hundreds of trailheads and 150 campgrounds to explore across the Bay Area’s 1.2 million acres of preserved lands. Just enter your starting location, and roughly how far you want to venture, and the site suggests possible hikes and featured trips. Once you decide where you want to go, it connects with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s 511 Transit Trip Planner to provide a detailed trip itinerary, complete with a map, transit times, fares and walking directions to and from the transit stop.

BAOSC a collaborative of more than 55 member organizations actively involved in permanently protecting and stewarding important parks, trails and agricultural lands in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. They are committed to connecting people to the land.

According to Bettina Ring, Executive Director of the BAOSC, “Transit and Trails is the first ever trip planner focused on parks and trails…It brings all the needed information to your fingertips so you can easily plan your outing.”

The ROI of Not Driving

Trails pic tnt_find_hi_sat_web

The site also calculates the cost of driving to your destination and estimates the pounds of carbon you would save by using public transit, so you can calculate the ROI of leaving the car at home.

Wouldn’t this make a great iphone application?

Transit and Trails makes it easy for you to access all the amazing parks and open spaces in the Bay Area while minimizing costs (save on tolls, gas and parking) and reducing your carbon footprint. Give it a try!  Since I live in Marin and can reach many trails from my front door (or if I need to travel, I have the dog along)  I have not tried the service yet.

Deborah Fleischer is founder and president of Green Impact. She is a LEED AP with a Master in Environmental Studies from Yale University and over 20-years of direct experience working on sustainability-related challenges in both the public and private sectors. You can follow her at @GreenImpact.


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  • Larry O

    Just don’t refer to it as “public transit”. That phrase is guaranteed to scare off most americans. It should be called the “Hiking shuttle” or something like that.

  • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

    Good thing for your dog and you that you live near a trailhead, Deborah, because larger pet dogs – too big to hold – are not allowed on public transit in the Bay Area, except for on MUNI in SF… which means just one line to Marin (76) on Sundays. One dog is allowed on board at a time, too.

    In the Canada and the US, large pet dogs are allowed on transit in larger cities like Boston, Calgary, Seattle and Toronto… in addition to MUNI.

    Wouldn’t in be nice to allow more of this in the Bay Area? See “Dogs on Board!” at my website and tell me if you want to help.

    • Nick Aster

      Todd – all dogs are allowed on Muni provided they are muzzled. Besides, the buses this article refers to are typically not muni, they’re other agencies that go outside of san francisco

      • http://www.greenidea.eu Todd Edelman

        Yes Nick, thanks for clarifying that… “Transit and Trails” leaves dogs at home — except ones which are small and can be carried in small containers or otherwise snuck on board. Of course, if a hard container is required it makes things more difficult, though I suppose it could be locked to a fence etc. at the stop near a trailhead.

        Of course it’s not the fault of BAOSC that all the agencies aside from MUNI make it difficult or impossible to carry pet dogs to the wonderful places described in “Transit and Trails”. But it would be great if dog owners and their supporters encouraged BAOSC’s Transportation Working Group to take this issue… on board.

        MUNI can be the literal and programmatic starting point for a new general rule: 1 – Off-peak, a reasonable number of dogs per vehicle (e.g. at least two* on a bus, the same in certain carriages on BART or Caltrain, perhaps a few more on all the ferries, and dogs not in carriers in a portion of a carshare fleet**); 2 – Half-price***/one free dog per any (future) type of pass, as further incentive to not drive; and 3 – Bus drivers/staff always have the right to decline permission to any dog they feel is a threat or a nuisance… all of this tried out in a multi-agency pilot project.

        To those who are put off by this, I would like to mention two things: First, that a lot of dog owners are carfree (and not just by choice). Second, when someone selflessly adopts a dog from a shelter, it’s a drag if from then on they feel they need to – or have to – drive in order to go places with their new family member.

        * Not just one per owner because some people have two dogs
        ** Autoshare in Toronto allows dogs not in containers in 80% of its fleet.
        *** On MUNI, one has to pay the same price for a dog which they pay for themselves.