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In Transit: Bay Area Transportation News on Everything That Moves

Follow the latest reports and analysis on the past, present and future of transportation in the Bay Area and beyond: rails, roads, bike routes and pedestrian paths, from the Key System to BART and Muni to high-speed rail.

In Transit Weekly Reader: Feb. 19–25, 2024

A Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train in Novato. (Paul Lancour/KQED)

KQED Bay Curious: Is the SMART Train Easing Highway 101 Traffic in Marin and Sonoma? The North Bay’s rail agency has come a long way since launching in 2017. And it’s the only public transportation system in the entire nine-county Bay Area that carries more passengers than before the Death Star, aka COVID-19, zapped transit services everywhere. But a Bay Curious listener wants to know whether SMART is making a dent in traffic congestion along U.S. 101.

KQED In Transit: BART Workers Demand Improved Security After Robbery Outside Agency HQ. Members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 appeared at this week’s BART board meeting in what amounted to a protest of a Feb. 14 incident in which an employee was robbed at gunpoint just outside agency headquarters.

BART Workers Demand Improved Security After Robbery Outside Agency HQ

BART “Fleet of the Past” train arriving at MacArthur Station in 2018. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

In the aftermath of an early-morning armed robbery of a BART employee outside the agency’s downtown Oakland headquarters, one of the agency’s unions is demanding swift action to improve security for workers. 

The robbery at 3 a.m. on Feb. 14 was disclosed during the agency’s board of directors meeting on Thursday. 

“This was an armed robbery, several people with guns chasing our employee up and down the street as he struggled to get into the building for safety,” said Jesse Hunt, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, which represents BART’s train operators, station agents and other operations employees. 

Hunt and several Local 1555 members appeared at the meeting to call on the agency to address safety concerns. 

Hunt said workers face “challenges that compromise their safety on a daily basis, from verbal abuse, being spit on, physical assaults and having their personal vehicles broken into. … It is unacceptable to continue to hear about the incidents of assaults and armed robberies our members endure while simply reporting to their jobs and working in the field to service the public.”

Rachel Miranda, a senior operations foreworker, told the board that employees have been dealing with crime in the area around the agency’s headquarters at 21st and Webster streets for more than two years. 

Miranda said that when her coworker “was strong-armed, with multiple guns pointed at him in front of the building, and feared for his life, we, the frontline workers, say that’s enough. No one should be afraid to come into work.” 

The board also heard a plea from another senior operations foreworker, Olivia Spicer, who said staff at headquarters were shaken by news of the robbery and security camera video of the incident. 

“Please, please help us,” Spicer said, near tears. “Please. Because I still want to come here. I still want to work here. I still love working for BART.” 

BART executives at the meeting acknowledged what they described as “challenges” in the headquarters area, including the safety of employees walking to and from parking lots in the neighborhood late at night and early in the morning. 

Michael Jones, BART’s deputy general manager, said the agency has increased the police presence around the headquarters building. A BART officer has been stationed there during the overnight hours and officers are making drive-by patrols around the clock. 

Jones said the district is also working to start a shuttle service to take workers to and from parking lots near the Paramount Theatre and the Kaiser Center. 

“It’s unfortunate we have to do that, but traversing from here to the Paramount Theatre at 3 o’clock in the morning to park or from here to 19th Street late at night or early in the morning has become challenging,” Jones said. 

“We’re just trying to make sure that we can do what we can right now to make sure that our employees know that we value their safety, and we’re going to do what we can do to keep them safe,” he said. 

But Local 1555’s Hunt made it clear that he and his members are looking for what he called “decisive action” to improve worker safety. 

He outlined several steps he wants the agency to take, including: 

  • Increased security presence throughout the BART system, including collaboration with local law enforcement agencies in the five counties the agency serves.
  • Training programs to help frontline employees handle safety threats.
  • Improved communication with employees about security concerns so that frontline employees know what to expect when they report to locations throughout the BART system.
  • Analysis of incidents to determine how to make employees and patrons safer.
  • Scheduling changes that would allow employees to come to work more rested and alert to deal with “the challenges that they face every day.”

“We need the BART board to end what appears to our members to be simply lip service intended to minimize BART’s liability when it comes to safety instead of actually making us safer,” Hunt said.

At the request of BART board president Bevan Dufty, agency management will make a formal presentation on employee safety at the board’s next meeting on March 14. 

New Bill Would Ban Tolls for People Walking and Biking Across California Bridges

A jogger moves out of the way as Aatiq Ghulam leads a group of cyclists riding for charity across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Friday, July 8, 2016. Twenty-four bicyclists pedaled through San Francisco on a 70-day, 4,000-mile trek from Austin, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska. The Texas 4000 bike ride raises money for cancer research. (Photo by Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Back in 2014, the Golden Gate Bridge district was looking for ways to close its perennial budget deficit and considering a long list of measures to help close the fiscal gap. 

One idea on the list was imposing a toll on people who came to the bridge to walk or ride their bikes across it. The proposal wasn’t popular, and Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco headed it off with a bill that prohibited bridge tolls on pedestrians. 

The bill, passed and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, expired in 2021. 

Fast forward to this week. The bridge district, facing a five-year deficit estimated at $220 million, opened its formal public presentation of a proposal to raise tolls for motor vehicles. The fee would rise between 35 and 50 cents a year for the next five years. Fastrak users would pay between $10.50 and $11.25 by the fifth year of increases in 2028. Those who use other payment methods would be charged more. 

This time around, the bridge district is not discussing charging people to walk or ride bikes across the bridge. 

But Ting and his allies in the cycling and pedestrian community want to make sure that option is taken off the table for good. 

Using the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop Thursday, Ting announced AB 2669, a bill that will permanently ban tolls on people walking, biking or scootering across any bridge in the state. 

“At a time when we’re dealing with climate change, and we’re trying to encourage more people to walk, more people to bike, I can’t think of a greater disincentive than actually charging a toll for pedestrians and cyclists to cross one of the most famous bridges in our world,” Ting said at a Crissy Field press conference.

“These are modes of transportation that every level of government should be encouraging and incentivizing everyone to use,” said Christopher White, interim executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. “But the norm is that driving and cars are subsidized while using sustainable active modes suffers from lack of investment. This bill flips that script.”

For Karen Rhodes, the president of the board of directors of Walk SF, maintaining spaces accessible to everyone is an equity issue. 

“People in community, outdoors with each other, young, old, local, visitors from all over the world — tens of thousands of people making use of our bridges in this way every day,” Rhodes said. “We’re all walking, rolling, using mobility aids to get outside and enjoy the restorative benefits of being outdoors.” 

Ting said that the worst thing the state can do is to penalize active modes of transportation. He said that there is an active coalition of support for his proposition all over the state.

The bill will get its first hearing in March. 

And a historical note: For the first 33 and a half years after the bridge opened in May 1937, the bridge actually did charge pedestrians to stroll across the span. The initial charge was a nickel — deposited in a turnstile — and was raised to a dime in 1938. 

The reported rationale for levying a pedestrian fee was that the district was legally obligated to charge all bridge users while it was paying off the voter-approved bonds that paid for the bridge’s construction. 

The bridge district repealed the pedestrian toll in 1970, which was also the year cyclists were first allowed to use the bridge.

 From the vantage point of 2023, the fee doesn’t look like it was a big moneymaker. In November 1970, the district reported it had collected $132 from pedestrians and $58 from cyclists.

The Golden Gate Bridge Still Has a Great View. Soon You'll Pay a Bit More to See It

A 1953 Golden Gate Bridge ad promoting discount toll ticket books. Until 1968, both northbound and southbound drivers paid tolls on the span. That 40-cent undiscounted toll had the buying power of about $4.50 in current dollars. (Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District)

Here are two things that anyone who crosses the Golden Gate Bridge can count on: You’ll get a close-up view of one of the most iconic structures anywhere on the planet, and pretty soon, you’ll pay more to do it.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the agency that owns and operates the span and the associated ferry and bus systems, will this week take the next step in a process that, if history is any guide, will raise bridge tolls for the next five years. The goal is to help close the total estimated deficit over that time frame of $220 million.

The cost for most passenger vehicles to cross the span now ranges from $8.75 if you use FasTrak to $9.75 for those who pay by invoice.  

The bridge district is considering five different toll scenarios that would raise tolls anywhere from 35 to 50 cents per year for the next five years. Under the most expensive scenario, which would raise about $139 million, FasTrak tolls would rise to $9.25 on July 1 and reach $11.25 on July 1, 2028. The charge for drivers paying by invoice would rise to $10.25 in July and hit $12.25 in 2028.

The smallest increase the district has floated would raise the FasTrak toll to $10.50 by 2028. Tolls-by-invoice would go up to $11.50. The agency would raise about $101 million in new revenue under that scenario.

The bridge district is holding a series of public outreach sessions on the proposed tolls. Those will include two one-hour Zoom webinars — on Wednesday, Feb. 14, at noon and Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. — and a formal public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 22.

You can also submit a public comment by email at or via an online comment form.

The district’s board of directors is expected to make a final decision on the toll proposal next month.

On the eve of another Golden Gate Bridge toll increase some time ago, I was moved to delve a little into the district’s toll history. Here’s a slightly updated version of what I found:

“If you take the really long view, even the pricey-looking tolls now being proposed look like a bargain.

“Today, only southbound drivers pay a toll. In 1937, the year the bridge opened, drivers paid 50 cents to cross — each way. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator, that $1 round-trip charge is the equivalent of $21.42 in 2024 dollars.

“The picture changes if you look at more of the toll history. Bridge directors actually reduced tolls three times — to 40 cents each way in July 1950; to 30 cents in February 1955; and to 25 cents in October 1955. A 40-trip book of commute tickets was priced at $7 after that final reduction.

“Those 1955 cuts were made in response to pressure from local politicians — notably state Sen. Jack McCarthy, a Republican representing parts of Marin and San Francisco — who argued that the district’s revenue from bridge tolls was far more than it needed to make ends meet.

“After the district voted in August 1955 to reduce the toll to a quarter, board member William Hadeler foresaw a future that could be toll-free if only cash weren’t needed to keep the bridge in good repair.

“‘We are not going to be content with a 25-cent toll,’ Hadeler said, according to what was then called the Daily Independent Journal (today’s Marin IJ). ‘As soon as conditions permit, I — and I am sure all of the directors — would like to see the toll reduced to 20 cents, to 15 cents, to 10 cents; and someday, if possible, no toll at all. But free tolls are something for the distant future. The Golden Gate Bridge is here for all time. It has to be operated and maintained so that it will always be here. And someone must pay the cost of those expenditures. That is why we have tolls.'”

Waymo Wants to Expand Service: The 22 Bay Area Cities Where You Could See Robotaxis Next

Map showing the area involved in Waymo’s application to the California Public Utilities Commission to expand driverless taxi operations.

Until now, the only place in California where a paying customer might hail an autonomous taxi and ride — sample journey: get a ride home from the bar after a night out — has been San Francisco. But under an application now pending before state regulators, that could change dramatically this year.

Earlier this month, the state Department of Motor Vehicles permitted Waymo to expand its “operational design domain” to parts of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties — virtually all of the Peninsula south of San Francisco and east of Interstate 280.

(As defined by the DMV, an operational design domain includes the geographic territory, type of roadway, permissible speed, weather conditions and other conditions “in which an automated function or system is designed to properly operate.”)

Getting the DMV’s approval was the necessary first step for Waymo to apply to the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates for-hire transportation services, for permission to expand its robot taxi service beyond the borders of San Francisco.

The company’s application, filed last week, asks the CPUC to approve expansion to all or part of 22 cities: Atherton, Belmont, Brisbane, Burlingame, Colma, East Palo Alto, Foster City, Hillsborough, Los Altos, Los Alto Hills, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Redwood City, San Bruno, San Carlos, San Mateo, South San Francisco, Sunnyvale and Woodside.

Waymo is also seeking to start commercial operations throughout the city of Los Angeles and 25 adjoining LA County cities, including Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Culver City, Compton and Long Beach.

Map showing the area Waymo is targeting for Southern California autonomous taxi service in its recent application to the CPUC.

Exactly when Waymo might roll out service in its proposed new territories is unknown. The CPUC is taking public comment on the company’s application through Feb. 8, and as a Waymo spokesperson said in an email response to a question last week, after that, the commission “will review our request on its own timeline.”

One indication of how long that timeline could be comes from the commission’s deliberations on the December 2022 applications from Waymo and its robotaxi rival Cruise to offer around-the-clock service throughout San Francisco. The CPUC approved the applications last August, about eight months later.

(The DMV and CPUC suspended Cruise’s operating permits in October after one of the company’s autonomous vehicles struck and dragged a pedestrian. Both state agencies have alleged that the company withheld video that showed the full extent of the crash — an accusation the company continues to deny. Cruise faces a hearing before the commission next week on its motion to settle allegations arising from the incident.)

The CPUC approved the robotaxi applications in August despite protests from San Francisco city officials, who pointed to numerous incidents in which Waymo and Cruise vehicles blocked traffic, blundered into emergency response scenes, and interfered with police and fire vehicles. The city has also complained that both autonomous vehicle operators and firms like Uber and Lyft have not been forthcoming enough with information government agencies need to understand the effect the services have on congestion and traffic safety.

In November, the CPUC rejected San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu’s request to reconsider its approval for Waymo’s expanded service. Chiu’s office is now challenging the commission’s approval in state appellate courts, with one claim on public safety issues before the 1st District Court of Appeal and another concerning the state’s environmental law filed with the California Supreme Court.

Oakland Agrees to Pay Injured Cyclist $6.5 Million to Settle Suit Over 2018 Grizzly Peak Crash

A Google Street View image from May 2018 shows the location on Grizzly Peak Boulevard, where Berkeley bicyclist Lynne McDonald hit a pothole (outlined in white), crashed, and suffered critical head and spinal injuries. (Google Maps)

Last month, the Oakland City Council approved a $6.5 million settlement in a case that involved a bicycle rider who was critically injured in April 2020 on MacArthur Boulevard.

The cyclist, Bruno VanSchoote, descended a section of MacArthur just east of the Grand Lake neighborhood when he hit a seam that had developed in the pavement. He was thrown from his bike and suffered severe head and spinal injuries.

At the time, news site Oaklandside reported the settlement was perhaps the largest the city had ever made related to people injured due to dangerous street conditions in the city.

But just five weeks later — in a development first reported by the Oakland Observer news site — the city has approved a settlement for an identical amount to a cyclist who was seriously injured when she crashed on a city-maintained road in the East Bay hills. In agreeing to settle, the city admitted no wrongdoing or liability.

The crash victim, Lynne McDonald of Berkeley, was on a morning bike ride with her husband, David Barr, and a group of friends on May 12, 2018, when she hit a pothole on Grizzly Peak Boulevard. She suffered what one document in her long-running legal case describes as “catastrophic” spinal and head injuries.

McDonald and her husband sued, alleging that the city had overlooked deteriorating pavement on the designated bike route. Evidence introduced by McDonald and Barr estimated repairs to the crumbling section of the roadway, which had been paved in 2013, would have cost about $5 a square foot.

McDonald and Barr filed suit in December 2018. In July 2020, Alameda County Superior Court Judge James Reilly agreed with attorneys for the city that McDonald had failed to present evidence that the city knew and should have known, that the stretch of Grizzly Peak where she crashed was dangerous. He granted the city’s motion for summary judgment, essentially throwing out the case.

But McDonald appealed, and last year, a state appellate court reinstated the lawsuit, setting the stage for this week’s $6.5 settlement. The city will pay $3 million of that amount, with the remainder to be covered by insurance.

Based on reporting last month from Oaklandside, the McDonald-Barr settlement brings the city’s settlement total in lawsuits involving dangerous street conditions to more than $40 million over the last decade.

Where You'll See BART's New Fare Gates Next

Screen capture from BART time-lapse video showing the installation of new fare gates at West Oakland station. (BART)

With its prototype fare gates installed at West Oakland station — and reportedly working as intended to deter those who want to ride trains without paying — BART announced where customers could expect to see the new gates next.

The stations include several of the busiest in the BART system, including three of the four stops in downtown San Francisco: 24th Street/Mission, Antioch, Civic Center, Fruitvale, Montgomery, Powell, Richmond and SFO.

From that list, the gates will be installed first at Civic Center, with work beginning in May or June.

Sylvia Lamb, BART’s assistant general manager for infrastructure delivery, told the agency’s board of directors at its Thursday meeting that the exact date depends on how quickly engineers can iron out any issues that arise with the prototype gates at West Oakland. She said one hiccup has emerged so far.

“Some folks have noticed there is a touch of a lag when you tap your (Clipper) card and before the gates open,” Lamb said. She said that lag time is estimated to be about 1.2 or 1.3 seconds — long enough that people entering or exiting the gates must pause a beat before proceeding.

“We’re trying to reduce that time to make it quicker,” she said, adding that BART General Manager Bob Power had told her that “when he taps and he walks, then he has to wait” before the gate opens.

Lamb said the stations prioritized for the next round of installations were chosen after a process that involved outside consultants and check-ins with several different departments at the agency, including BART police, about where the next improved fare gates should go. The process also considered factors like equity and the complexity of installing gates at each station.

“There’s probably seven or eight different scenarios we ran with consultants and other folks,” Lamb said, and the same eight stations kept showing up at the top of the list. “In every scenario we ran, in every model, these kept popping up.

BART has promised legislators and regional transportation officials that it will have the next-generation fare gates installed at all 50 of its stations by the end of next year.

SF Officials Say Cycling Has Increased, Not Fallen, Since Installation of Valencia Street Bikeway

Bicyclists ride on the Valencia Street bike lane in San Francisco’s Mission District on Sept. 21, 2023. (Beth LaBerge/KQED)

San Francisco transportation officials say a recently released draft report showing a sharp drop in cyclists, drivers and pedestrians along Valencia Street since the installation of a controversial bike lane last summer doesn’t accurately represent the current state of traffic on the street. 

The draft report from the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency, released via a public records request on Wednesday, was the first snapshot of data showing how the Mid-Valencia Pilot has changed use of the corridor. The pilot installed a center-running bike lane and changed driving and parking restrictions on the street. 

The data in the draft report measures vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic at certain intersections on the corridor for a single month last September and compares it to conditions nearly a year earlier, in October 2022. 

The report shows that bike traffic along Valencia Street declined by as much as 53% in September compared to the previous October. It also shows a significant drop in daily motor vehicle volume, as much as a 42% decline, especially in the northern portion of the corridor. Peak pedestrian volumes also declined as much as 42% in some locations, with an overall 18% decline.

In a press release Thursday, SFMTA says the draft report “only accounts for a small portion of our evaluation period during which cyclists were returning to Valencia Street after the pilot construction period.”

The agency says it is finalizing a three-month evaluation report and added that it estimates average daily bike volume is about 3% higher than before the pilot began. The agency says the September drop in drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians seen in the draft report was due to cyclists slowly returning to the street after the bike lane was completed. Construction began in mid-April, but the center-running bikeway didn’t open until Aug. 1. 

When the draft report was first released Wednesday, opponents of the Mid-Valencia Pilot say the decline in bike traffic shows the pilot is failing to achieve its goals.

The data was reportedly obtained through an anonymous public records request and released by Luke Bornheimer, an independent safe streets advocate and a leading critic of the bike lane. 

“This unprecedented decrease in people biking on Valencia Street should be a wake-up call to Mayor Breed and the SFMTA Board of Directors,” Bornheimer says in a press release.

Improving traffic safety was also a major priority of the pilot. Valencia Street is on the city’s high-injury network. Three pedestrians have been struck and killed on Valencia Street since 2020. One, 80-year-old Jian Huang of San Francisco, was struck and killed last September by a driver who was turning left onto Valencia. 

Some aspects of the draft report show the pilot was achieving some of the SFMTA’s goals. 

The report shows a steep decrease in vehicles double-parking and loading in the bike lane, one of the project’s major goals. Before the pilot, people working for ride-hailing apps and app-based delivery services would often double-park in the existing bike lane, forcing cyclists to make a dangerous merge into the vehicle lane. In instituting the pilot, SFMTA says it’s tried to walk a line between improving traffic safety and preserving business access.

But a growing chorus of business owners on Valencia Street have complained that the pilot has led to a steep drop in sales. 

The live music venue Amado’s, which had been in operation for eight years at 21st and Valencia, closed in November and blamed the pilot for an 80% drop in revenue. As part of the pilot, SFMTA eliminated 71 metered parking spots and converted them into loading zones.

“It became completely untenable for artists, staff trying to find parking, and mainly, any kind of customer that would like to come and enjoy our venue,” says Amado’s owner, David Quinby, in an interview. 

Since the start of the pilot, SFMTA says it has responded to complaints like these from businesses by converting seven loading zone spaces per block back to general parking. 

The agency says it is exploring an alternative design to the center-running bikeway pilot that would relocate the bike lane to the side of the street, between the sidewalk and parked cars. 

But to business owners like Quinby — the small slice of data in the draft report proves that the current street configuration is a failed experiment. 

“The public is actively avoiding Valencia Street, which is killing our community,” Quinby says.

Transit Ridership Watch, December 2023: BART's Weather Blues and Holiday Blahs

BART’s Warm Springs/South Fremont station, December 2023. (Dan Brekke/KQED)

BART ridership was down in December, with average daily patronage (weekdays, weekends and holidays) sinking from 134,186 to 117,876, a decline of 9.2%.

Here’s why that’s not as bad as it sounds: The decline reflects the lowest low of a seasonal downturn that appears to affect most Bay Area transit agencies and reflects factors like the onset of colder, wetter weather and the fact people aren’t taking as many trips on transit during the height of the holiday season.

Year-over-year numbers are more important in judging overall ridership recovery, and December continued BART’s recent trend of slow but steady ridership growth compared to 2022 levels. Last month’s patronage, both overall and on weekdays, was up 9% over November 2022.

Actual numbers versus BART’s forecast: BART forecasted growth of about 9% in ridership in the fiscal year from July 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024. Actual ridership for the first six months of the fiscal year has grown at almost exactly that pace.

Here’s a quick look at some key December ridership numbers:

Month over month

Overall December ridership: 3,654,243, or 39.5% of December’s pre-pandemic baseline of 9.2 million.

Total weekday ridership: 2,881,148 (20 days, excluding Christmas Day, Dec. 25), down from 3,233,822 in November (20 days, excluding Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving).

Average weekday ridership: 144,057 (36.9% of baseline). That’s down from 161,691 in October (39.6%).

Year over year

December ’23 vs. December ’22: This year’s ridership of 3,654,243 is 9.1% higher than the ridership for the same month a year ago, 3,319,297. Weekday average ridership of 144,057 is up 9% from the 129,872 recorded in December 2022.

Weekday average ridership, fiscal year to date: 161,951, or 39.1% of baseline. (BART’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30 each year.) The overall weekday average for FY 2023 was 147,620, or 35.6% of the baseline.

Source for all of the above: BART’s daily ridership reports, accessed here, and KQED’s ongoing tracking of the numbers (a big Google sheet, with chart), here.

An SFO Layover Might Be Your Gateway to Adventure

Passengers wait to board flights at San Francisco International Airport during the 2023 Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (Liu Guanguan/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images)

Perhaps the most daring thing a modern traveler can do in this unpredictable world of unregulated airlines and frequently fouled-up schedules is to book an airline trip that includes a connecting flight. Who can possibly tell where you and your luggage will wind up and when?

But if you happen to be that adventurous traveler, and you have a layover of a few hours, and if that layover happens to be at San Francisco International Airport, and if you’re the type of person who would like to see a little bit of the world beyond SFO: Well, then, KQED can suggest a quick trip that will give you an idea of what San Francisco is all about.

Nisa Khan of our audience news team produced a guide — Layover at SFO? How to See (a Little) of San Francisco in a Few Hours — that features four quick itineraries for trips from the airport to the city’s Mission District and downtown neighborhoods via BART. The suggestions include many eateries and stops ranging from Dolores Park to the Asian Art Museum to City Hall to the Ferry Building. It’s a pretty amazing list of attractions, all accessible for less than $25 round trip.

My favorite stop: The Ferry Building. It’s home to lots of shops and restaurants if that’s your thing. For me, the view is the thing — of the Bay Bridge to the south, Yerba Buena and Treasure Island and the hills rising up beyond Oakland and Berkeley to the east, and the vast expanse of the bay and waterfront to the north. It’s also, not surprisingly, where you can catch ferries to more than half a dozen destinations across the water.

Of course, the danger if you’re on a layover is that you might be having such a good time exploring or sailing off on an East Bay ferry that you might not get back to the airport in time for that connecting flight.