San Rafael Transit Center Project Page

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (Bridge District) is starting a multi-year process to develop a new transit center for San Rafael. The current transit center will be affected by the extension of Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) system to Larkspur. Several government agencies are partnering to identify a new transit center site and configuration that will provide for the current and future mobility needs of San Rafael and Marin County.

As SMART is extended further south to Larkspur, the tracks will bisect the site where the San Rafael Transit Center (SRTC) is currently located. This will impact how buses and people will be able to access and travel through the site as well as the amount of space available for buses and riders. As a result, the transit center must be replaced in another location in downtown San Rafael. This is an opportunity to create a more accessible transit facility for all users and improve both connectivity and safety.

We Want Your Input!

We want to hear about your experiences with the current transit center and what you would like to see included in a new transit center.

There will be multiple community meetings and a variety of ways to offer input and stay connected:

The Current Transit Center

The San Rafael Transit Center (SRTC) serves as the regional transit hub for Marin County. It connects bus service, airporter service, taxi, and rail service with transfer points to San Francisco, Contra Costa and Sonoma counties.

San Rafael Transit Center

Services at the current San Rafael Transit Center include:

  • Local and regional bus service: Golden Gate Transit; Marin Transit; Sonoma County Transit
  • Airporter service: Marin Airporter; Sonoma County Airport Express
  • Greyhound Bus Lines
  • Ride hailing/taxi service
  • Regional rail service: Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART)
  • Golden Gate Transit customer service
  • Retail
  • Bike parking

The current 17-bay transit center serves people getting on and off buses 9,000 times each day on the over 500 buses that serve the transit center. Nearly half of weekday riders originate from or are travelling to the downtown San Rafael area. Just over half are transferring between buses or between bus and rail at the transit center. With 16 bus bays occupied during peak times, the SRTC is currently operating at or beyond its capacity.

The Opportunity

A new transit center offers an opportunity to:

  • Increase safety and comfort for users
  • Enhance the surrounding community by providing improved public space and mobility opportunities • Improve connectivity and circulation in and around downtown San Rafael
  • Increase use of local and regional transit use by improving transit connections
  • Increase accessibility for all users
  • Maintain the current functionality and flexibility for the operators who serve it

Where will the new transit center be located and what will it include?

This is where we need your input. What would you like to see at the new center? Have you taken the online survey? Signed up to receive project update emails? Followed us on social media on Facebook (Golden Gate Transit) and Twitter (@GoldenGateBus)?

Agency Involvement

As the owner of the SRTC, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District will serve as the lead environmental agency for the project as the owner of the SRTC. The Bridge District, the City of San Rafael, Marin Transit, Transportation Authority of Marin, and SMART are all partners in the project.

Previous Planning

Improving access to transit in Marin County and the North Bay Area is consistent with transportation goals established in the San Rafael Transit Center Relocation Study and the San Rafael Downtown Station Area Plan adopted in 2012.

A key part of the vision developed through the Station Area Plan process is to provide a safe and comfortable environment for transit users and a pleasant connection between the transit center and surrounding neighborhoods.
The new transit center will be more inviting, easier to use, and improve quality of life for the residents, students, and those who work in San Rafael. It also brings the opportunity to enhance the vibrancy of downtown San Rafael with a new public space. By making public transit more desirable and functional, car trips can be reduced and transit ridership may increase.

The San Rafael Transit Center Relocation Study was a two-year effort led by the City of San Rafael in close partnership with the Bridge District, Marin Transit, SMART, Transportation Authority of Marin,and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to gain insight into the transit demands in and around the SRTC.
The study analyzed and documented the needs of the transit center, the transit and land use constraints of the surrounding area, and identified and evaluated a set of potential solutions to address both short-term and long-term transit center needs.

Building upon previous planning efforts, this current project will define feasible alternatives, solicit and integrate community feedback, identify a preferred alternative, obtain environmental clearance, and advance the project through the preliminary design phase.


Funding for this phase of the project is from the One Bay Area Grant program and Bridge District funds. Funding sources for the design and construction phases of the new transit center are anticipated to be a combination of local, state, and federal programs.

Frequently Asked Questions

This area already suffers from congestion. How will traffic be impacted?

A key issue that will influence the preferred solution will be circulation and access. Congestion is a primary concern for those who live, work and attend school in San Rafael. The 2nd & Hetherton and 3rd & Hetherton intersections are among the busiest and most congested in the entire county. High traffic volumes also create an undesirable pedestrian environment, demonstrated by a history of collisions. It is critical to locate and design the transit center in a way that benefits bus and auto circulation while creating a safe environment for pedestrians to access the transit center, circulate between transit services, and connect with downtown San Rafael.

Where will the new transit center be located?

Downtown San Rafael is a major work center and the location where several major north-south and east-west bus routes intersect with each other as well as with the new SMART train. With easy freeway access, it is the ideal location to reduce riders’ travel time, reduce operating costs, and reduce the amount of time buses spend on City streets. In addition, many people use the services at the transit center to travel to and from destinations within San Rafael. Therefore, downtown San Rafael is the ideal location for the new transit center.

What alternatives are being considered?

The project is currently in the early planning phases. It will build upon previous planning efforts and incorporate public input. The initial project phase will identify the best alternatives to evaluate.

If the project is in the early planning phase, what is the overall the project development process?

The project includes the following primary phases:

  1. Identification of Transit Center Alternatives – Perform updated technical analysis and build on previous planning efforts to identify potential transit center sites and configurations.
  2. Environmental Analysis - Identify potential environmental impacts associated with the project.
  3. Preliminary Engineering - Prepare initial designs for the transit center.

A preferred transit center location and configuration is anticipated to be selected in 2018. Environmental analysis and preliminary design is anticipated to be completed in 2020. Subsequent project efforts after 2020 will include final design and construction.

How will site options be determined?

The next step in the process will build upon the detailed evaluation conducted as part of the Relocation Study, which will be updated to reflect current transit operations and community input.

What alternatives were considered in previous studies?

The previous study identified and evaluated more than nine potential transit center sites before recommending three for further evaluation. The initial nine sites were developed and screened based upon a certain set of assumptions in place at the time of the study. Those assumptions will be revisited to identify if any changes in perspectives or conditions would warrant consideration of new alternatives.

I understand the need for the new transit center, but am concerned that San Rafael is a unique place in Marin County and the new center should reflect that. Will the new center benefit the community aesthetically?

The goal is for the new transit center to be easy to access, safe, and secure while reflecting the unique personality of San Rafael through aesthetic urban design. There will be many opportunities to share your ideas to shape the vision and character of the facility and the surrounding area.

I can’t attend the first public meeting on March 20th. How can I make sure my voice is heard?

Stakeholder engagement is important to this project. We want to hear your input and are working to ensure that all segments of the community are included. We will leverage a variety of in-person and online forums to obtain broad input about transit center needs and the alternatives under consideration. Take the survey at Sign up for e-mail updates at Connect via social media on Facebook (Golden Gate Transit) and Twitter (@GoldenGateBus).

I am a cyclist and am concerned how this will affect me. Are the needs of cyclists being considered?

We are working closely with the City of San Rafael to identify preferred solutions that integrate seamlessly with existing bicycle and pedestrian routes. Pathways will be identified to provide safe access to, from, and through the transit center.

Why doesn’t this project include housing?

The primary purpose of this project is to build a new transit center in downtown San Rafael. The City is starting a lengthy process of updating its General Plan. As part of that process, land use and housing will be fully considered, including in the area around the transit center. This project will be included in that effort.

Why aren't the SMART tracks being elevated?

Modifying the SMART tracks are not part of this project. The cost and visual/aesthetic impacts of elevating SMART would be substantial. There is no funding source identified or being considered for elevating SMART. Therefore, that is not being considered as part of this project.

Why is the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District leading this project?

As the owner of the transit center, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District will serve as the lead environmental agency for the project. The Bridge District is working closely with the City of San Rafael, Marin Transit, the Transportation Authority of Marin, and SMART on this project. Per a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bridge District, the San Rafael City Council will have the opportunity to approve the final selected alternative.