Each weekend, thousands of Bay Area residents try to “get away from it all” by driving to beaches, parks, and other open spaces. As a result, we contribute—unwittingly—to some of the very problems we are trying to escape. According to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, ozone levels in some areas can be higher on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays than during the week. And weekend traffic backups on the bridges can last even longer than those during the weekday commute.
Fortunately, the Bay Area Open Space Council has produced a new Transit Outdoors map (openspacecouncil.org/guides/parkinfo) that shows major transit links to parks and open spaces throughout the Bay Area. What could be better than learning how to lighten our impact on the landscape as we turn to it for renewal and relaxation? Public transit may not work for every trip, but even if you only use it occasionally, it will make a difference. It’s intended to give you a sense of what’s possible by showing some of the transit routes to Bay Area parks as well as some of the area’s fine transit-accessible hiking trails. It also highlights 11 one-way trails that actually work better if you use public transit, avoiding the hassle and time of shuttling cars back and forth.
Making public transit work for you may involve a bit of advance planning. Even if the trip you want to take is clearly marked on the Transit Outdoors map, we recommend that you call ahead for up-to-date information. Some routes don’t operate every day of the week, and transit schedules are subject to change.
You only have to remember one phone number for all of your transit questions. In the Bay Area, dial 511 (regardless of your area code) and follow the instructions to be connected to the transit agency you want to reach.
You can also get information for all Bay Area transit agencies by logging on to www.transit.511.org
Transit schedules are not the same every day of the week, so always check the schedule for the day of the week you want to travel, particularly for weekends and holidays.
Find out in advance how much your trip will cost, if exact change is required, and if you’ll need to pay in coins. You might also want to ask if you can purchase a round-trip ticket.
If you will be traveling on more than one transit line, find out if a shared ticket is available for those lines.
Be sure to arrive at least a few minutes early. There’s nothing worse than seeing your bus or train pull away as you approach.
Bring a book, magazine, or personal stereo to make waiting an enjoyable part of the experience.
Many children love taking transit, particularly ferries and trains. But if you’re traveling with young ones, bring a book or favorite toy for them in case they get bored.
Most transit agencies allow bicycles on at least some of their lines, some of the time. If you want to travel with a bike, call ahead and get up-to-date bicycle information.
Finally, we also recommend that you contact the park(s) you plan to visit for up-to-date information. Many can mail you maps and other information. Web links to all Bay Area parks and open space districts can be found at the Bay Area Open Space Council’s website (www.openspacecouncil.org). An online version of the Transit Outdoors map appears on the site and will be updated as new information becomes available.
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Islais Creek Park is the first official San Francisco site on the San Francisco Bay Area Water Trail.