Stakeholder Perspectives and Strategies for Reviving Public Transit Ridership to Downtowns and Employment Centers in the Bay Area

Research Team: Elizabeth Deakin (lead) and Egon Terplan

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: Many California downtowns are grappling with reduced transit ridership and decreased activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This poses challenges to the state's climate goals, equity objectives, economic prosperity, and public finances. Some suggest that the traditional employment-focused “central business district” model is outdated. Instead, they propose transforming downtowns, shopping centers, and business parks into mixed-use “central social districts,” often with a higher residential population. However, these discussions often overlook the impact on local and regional transit ridership.

Project Description: This study will investigate transit use, development patterns, and revitalization strategies in five San Francisco Bay Area downtowns that vary in size, function, and transit connectivity. The researchers will conduct interviews with city officials, transit experts, and real estate professionals to gather insights on revitalization proposals and , in turn, will use these proposals to develop and analyze scenarios depicting potential downtown transformations. The team will evaluate these scenarios through focus groups and additional interviews, leading to policy recommendations tailored to different types of downtowns. The recommendations aim to support the concentration of activities in downtown areas, thereby attracting increased transit ridership and helping the state get back on track to achieve climate, equity, and economic goals.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $104,000