San Francisco is one of California’s few dense, walkable cities. Many San Francisco residents do not own cars and get around on a daily basis using public transportation.

Unfortunately, many of the area’s jobs are in suburbs, especially Silicon Valley, which is not very transit-accessible to the rest of San Francisco. SF residents who work in the Valley must drive or endure long commutes involving changing between several forms of public transit (for example, a bus to Caltrain (the Valley’s commuter rail) to a company shuttle or VTA bus between the Caltrain station and the office buildings).

At least San Francisco residents usually have a choice and aren’t strangers to taking a few different forms of transit. Some bike to Caltrain and then from Caltrain to the office. But for residents of the Peninsula and South Bay (parts of the Valley), taking transit to San Francisco just isn’t an option. Caltrain runs very infrequently nights and weekends, but most importantly, it doesn’t go to any places in San Francisco visitors want to go, except for the Giants’ SBC Park. Living in the South Bay for three years, I never took transit to the city, and never rode BART, not once.

Officials have wanted to extend Caltrain downtown for years. Now that project is once again moving forward, coupled with a new plan for a Transbay Terminal to be “San Francisco’s Grand Central” and in truth more than that, combining commuter bus service from across the Bay and Greyhound inter-city bus service with Caltrain, plus the potential to add connections to trains to Oakland and high-speed rail to LA if those are ever built.

The project also would replace the Depression-era utilitarian structure with a grand, sweeping icon (picture) which, while not functionally necessary, would give San Francisco some much-needed pride in its transit infrastructure, especially since the global symbol of the city is, ultimately, a roadway.

Cityscape writes, “Does San Francisco need a grand central train station? Why, yes.” I concur. Build it, California!

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.