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Why is there a Golden Gate Bridge and a road in Star Trek: Picard in San Francisco? What travels on this road? Shuttle craft with wheels?

The Golden Gate Bridge as seen in ST:P

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    The bridge also features prominently in Star Trek IV. However, due to the storms that engulf the Earth during the film, the bridge is empty of traffic, so it is not possible to determine what kind of vehicles in normally carries.
    – Buzz
    Feb 19 '20 at 3:04
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    To be honest, it almost looks like it got re-purposed as a solar power field.
    – A.bakker
    Feb 19 '20 at 5:56
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    Perhaps it's just an ancient monument/tourist attraction, like the Pyramids
    – mwarren
    Feb 19 '20 at 9:15
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    @Buzz The bridge was destroyed/badly damaged in DS9 when the Breen attacked Earth so it’s been rebuilt/repaired too.
    – Darren
    Feb 19 '20 at 17:36
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    There are also staircases in Star Trek: Picard (seen in one of the buildings at Star Fleet HQ). I thought steps would have been replaced by elevators and escalators by the 24th century.
    – RobertF
    Feb 19 '20 at 21:43
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You have asked three questions, I will go through them one by one.

The Golden Gate Bridge is still there, there is no need to tear it down with no reason

We have seen the Golden Gate Bridge several times in Star Trek. I can't remember if we saw it in the future during "The Voyage Home", but we can see it clearly in Discovery's episode "Such Sweet Sorrow":

The Golden Gate Bridge as seen in Discovery

You can see that it's covered with solar panels. Note that we don't know if these solar panels are still in use, they could be historical remnants the same as the bridge itself. There is no reason why this bridge, even if it's unused, should be torn down - it's an iconic landmark and will still serve as a monument even if it's no longer used.

Nothing travels on these roads specifically

As you can see, nothing travels on that bridge because it's covered with solar panels. We don't know if they are still in use or if there was a point in the past where having them made sense (before the discovery of nearly unlimited energy sources such as matter/antimatter reactors), but they are there.

There are roads because cars are still a thing.

Cars are still a thing in the future. And why wouldn't they? It's just not feasible to take a shuttle everywhere, and there are people who are afraid of beaming. Also, people might still be driving cars because they enjoy them.

Even though it's in an alternative timeline, we can see that Kirk drives a car, that there is something similar to a motorcycle and that there are even still hitchhikers. This all pops up in this video:

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    There is a reason why unused bridges could be torn down: Maintenance effort/costs. Feb 19 '20 at 12:11
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    @JanWindemuth - in the post-scarcity world of Star Trek, there will be plenty of people who will maintain the Golden Gate Bridge for fun. Feb 19 '20 at 12:14
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    Also, it's not any old bridge, it's an iconic monument. But in general, you are right. Related: These solar panels look awfully new and in good shape. If they are still in use, then why? If they aren't, who keeps them in good shape?
    – Philipp
    Feb 19 '20 at 12:27
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    In the Producing Picard short about the show's VFX, it's explained (out of universe) that they added the solar panels to the bridge just to cover up all the cars from the modern-day source video. Feb 19 '20 at 15:53
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    Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge might be maintained as a monument long after it stopped being useful because it is a beautiful and much loved marvel of engineering. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was completed in 1937, and still is the ninth. Ironically, many of those who saw it being erected preferred the earlier view of the Golden Gate without the bridge. Feb 19 '20 at 18:18
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As you can see from VOY: Endgame, the Golden Gate Bridge of 2394 houses some manner of travel system, comprising individual small cars traveling at high speeds inside a series of transparent tubes, possibly some kind of mass-transit facility.

Gif of a crowd watching fireworks on the Golden Gate Bridge, vehicles move behind them

Gif of a crowd watching fireworks on the Golden Gate Bridge, vehicles move behind them, the same scene as the previous Gif but later on

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    Your accounting of the events here are mixed up. The year of the event in these screengrabs was not 2378. It was 2394. The event in question shows the return of Voyager to Earth 16 years after 2378. Furthermore, the timeline containing your screengrabs was eventually erased by Janeway's actions in the episode (which succeed in bringing Voyager home in 2378).
    – Praxis
    Feb 22 '20 at 3:32
  • @Praxis - Sure, but it's likely that the bridge was used for this in the "prime" timeline also. Because why not
    – Valorum
    Feb 22 '20 at 21:14
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    In the "original" timeline the arrival of Voyager in 2394 was long expected and announced, there was plenty of time to arrange a welcome-home-party. The arrival in 2378 in "prime" timeline IIRC was somewhat unexpected. Feb 22 '20 at 21:26
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    @VolkerLandgraf - Sure, but they're hardly going to install a travel tube thingie on the bridge to celebrate.
    – Valorum
    Feb 22 '20 at 21:31
  • @Valorum: I agree it's likely. Thanks for fixing the year. Have a +1.
    – Praxis
    Feb 23 '20 at 3:28
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Trains on the bridge

I can't cite canon for this, but you can plainly see the "urban density" of the Marin Headlands and Sausalito, and you can bet if those are that built-out, the Presidio is denser still. This creates a transportation choke-point.

The devil is in the deconfliction. Yes, air is 3-D, but you need a fair amount of space to deconflict traffic to such a focused destination. Simply because wind conditions could hurl a vehicle off course, aside from other failures like those who like to hand-fly. Transporters, well how much "airwaves" does a transporter take? Can you have unlimited transporters in a high-density space? I doubt it.

We've seen the pods traveling on the bridge's upper deck in the Voyager scene. However such pods simply lack the density required to bring in hundreds of thousands of workers in the Starfleet headquarters and Academy complexes. (To say nothing of ordinary commuters merely passing through between non-Starfleet activities in the City proper and their homes in Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties). A train that handles 1000 people every 4 minutes, that's the kind of thing you need. And that's an ordinary subway train today.

A train seen on the Golden Gate bridge

So we can safely infer something like that exists, either tunneled (though the Golden Gate channel is fairly deep, making that hard) or on the lower deck of the Golden Gate, as per the original vision for the BART system.

It may, in fact, be precisely BART. The trouble with changing out a tunneled rapid transit system to a totally new technology like pneumatic tube or maglev, is that transit system is there for a reason, and the reason doesn't take a holiday for a couple of years while everything is rebuilt, debugged, torture tested and shaken down. The community simply cannot bear the cost of taking the system down that long. It isn't modernized because it can't be. So those 24th century commuter trains may be using grav-mag grapples to float above standard old 5'6" broad gauge steel railroad track, but standard they may still be. The upside is the Historic Fleet gets to operate from time to time.

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  • Underground transit access in San Francisco is seen in VOY 2x05 "Non Sequitur", when Harry runs from security. This suggests large scale mass transit exists in the 24th century. Whether or not it crosses the Golden Gate Bridge is anyone's guess, but for tunnels crossing the channel that really isn't too far fetched of an idea when considering habitation domes on the floor of the Atlantic were being planned five years prior in TNG "Family".
    – Xantec
    Feb 23 '20 at 3:48

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