Bay Area Transit Systems Continue To Expand

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November 14, 2016

By Steffen Kammerer, Senior Vice President, JLL

A recent report issued by the Northern California JLL research team suggests that investors looking for the best opportunities in the San Francisco Bay Area office sector would do well to “get on the train.”

“Tenant migration along the rail spreads outwards most notably from San Francisco and Palo Alto.  Submarkets adjacent to these markets have recorded the most demand in the current cycle,” the report says.


Public Transportation Usage Steadily Increasing

The Bay Area is one of the most traffic congested areas in the U.S. and companies locating in San Francisco and Silicon Valley face the challenge of accommodating a growing demographic within their workforces that eschews motor vehicles (unless they are used for ride-sharing).

Caltrain and BART ridership have witnessed steadily increasing ridership in the Bay Area over the last 20 years.  In 1997, annual BART ridership was a little more than 80 million; by 2015 that number had almost doubled to more than 150 million.  Last year, Caltrain ridership was almost 125 million, growing from a little more than 70 million in the mid-1990s.

Offices Near Transit Stations Highly Desirable

Not surprisingly, office assets within walking distance of BART and Caltrain stations have risen in their appeal among key occupiers. Rents at properties close to train stations command a 30 percent premium over assets in drive-to-rail markets and, on average, tend to have vacancy rates about three percentage points lower, according to our JLL research.

Existing Bay Area Transit Systems Expand

Significant expansion of the Bay Area’s train infrastructure is on the way.  In Emeryville, a project to expand the city’s Amtrak/Capitol Corridor station at 5858 Horton Street is underway as part of a ground up office/research development.  The station – which was built in 1994 in an innovative public-private partnership between Wareham Development and the city – is the midpoint in the Capitol Corridor connecting Sacramento and San Jose and is the western terminus for Amtrak’s California Zephyr service connecting the Bay Area to Chicago and the East Coast. BART is in the process of extending service in Silicon Valley and to growing residential areas in eastern Contra Costa County.  In May, the California High Speed Rail Authority announced it would begin the Environment Impact Report (EIR) process for a 51-mile shared track system with Caltrain, making high-speed rail available between downtown San Francisco and San Jose.

Infrastructure investments such as these will create additional development opportunities for office developers looking to create transit-oriented projects that appeal to a wide range of tenants.

Read the full 2016 Bay Area Transportation Outlook report here, or visit

About the author:



Steffen Kammerer is a Senior Vice President and office space expert at JLL in Silicon Valley, specializing in site selection and lease negotiations for commercial real estate clients. His well-developed understanding of emerging technologies in the local market give him a unique perspective on critical principles that must be incorporated into transactions. 

Contact Steffen directly by phone at 650-480-2214 or via email at


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