I love a good map, and last week I came across a pair of very impressive ones, each telling a different story of the state of transportation in Stockton.
The first map comes from a California design team that set out with a rather ambitious goal: to chart every public transportation option in California– rail, bus and even ferry– on one map. As you can see, the California Rail Map is quite detailed, giving us a real appreciation of the state’s extensive transportation network.
While the state’s most populous areas appear to be well served, the map also illustrates just how disconnected the Central Valley is from the rest of California. This is especially true of Stockton.as, aside from Amtrak and the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE), Stockton has no transportation access regionally or to the rest of the state (side note: the map does not include SJRTD Metro Express Bus Rapid Transit service, though other regions’ BRT systems were included).
Areas further south in the valley appear a bit more integrated, though Modesto, Fresno and Bakersfield are still fairly isolated from the the state’s major population centers. This is particularly concerning as the Central Valley is slated to grow by three quarters by 2050, while the rest of the state will only grow by one quarter, according to a report by the Council of Infill Builders which I discussed last week. Put the state’s fastest growing region together with very little transportation infrastructure and you have a recipe for clogged roadways and increasingly unbreathable air.
While the California Rail Map depicts the extent to which the region is lacking in transportation choices, another map gives us a look at what is planned for the future. Reconnecting America, a transportation advocacy group, just updated their “Transit Space Race” map showing every transportation project in each major metropolitan area across the country. Reconnecting America counted a total of 721 transit projects, up from 643 a year earlier.
In the Stockton region, it appears that the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) has plans in the works for three projects: the Byron Highway Commuter Rail, the Central Valley Rail Service, and the ACE Extension (I’m not sure, but I don’t believe that the ACE Extension citation includes ACE’s Altamont Corridor Rail Project, which will supposedly reduce the 2 hour commute between Stockton and San Jose down to just one hour.) I admittedly know almost zero about these projects (and welcome information from anyone who does know!), but any infrastructure spending that increases transportation capacity without widening highways is probably a more sound investment.