People in San Francisco love to complain about the size of BART and the Muni Metro subway. Inside the city, there are a total of eight stations. (New York City, by comparison, has 469.) Since San Francisco built its first subway stations in the 1970s, the city has grown, but the subway hasn't.
Now the city is considering how the subway could expand, and it wants public input. On a new online map, anyone can point and click to recommend where new stations should go.
"The interactive map allows people to engage with us according to their calendar and availability," says Andrew Heidel, senior planner for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.
The agencies purposefully decided not to limit what people could draw on the map. "We’re looking for everyone to be as creative and thoughtful as possible," says Heidel. "This could, however, lead to some proposals that may not be feasible, like a subway all the way to Portland, for example."
The online system is a way for the planners to efficiently capture thousands of submissions. Still, the city plans to also use old-fashioned methods—with paper maps and markers—for anyone who doesn't have access to a computer.
All of the responses will be mapped to help city staff understand where San Franciscans most want to see new corridors. The results may also help identify new, creative ideas. "Transportation planners may be too close to a problem to see the solution," says Grahm Satterwhite, principal planner for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
All of this will be combined with data on where people travel now, how they get there, and how that might change with better transit options.
"We want the technical work to reflect the vision of not just a few transportation planners, but of all San Franciscans," Satterwhite says.
Have something to say about this article? You can email us and let us know. If it's interesting and thoughtful, we may publish your response.