SF NEXTSTOP / Complete the Central Subway
When completed, the Central Subway T Line will connect San Francisco’s fastest-growing neighborhoods (Mission Bay, Bayview, SOMA - targeted to absorb most of the City’s growth over the next 40 years) with our oldest and densest neighborhood (Chinatown - with densities the new neighborhoods will likely never match). It will link these neighborhoods and the City’s business, commercial, convention and transit centers (the Financial District, SOMA, Union Square, Market Street, Moscone, SF MOMA, Caltrain, BART). But the promise of the Central Subway – the shift away from the City’s outdated hub-and-spoke transit system, a significant reduction in surface congestion, functional transit for the resident and visitor-dense eastern corridors – cannot be fulfilled until the subway reaches all the way to North Beach/Russian Hill/north Chinatown and to Fisherman’s Wharf. After the Market Street corridor, the T Line route could become the City’s premier transit route – if we complete the Central Subway.
The Compelling Case for extending the Central Subway
- Fulfill the promise of the Central Subway by completing its route. Fully connect residents, jobs, services and attractions on the City’s crowded and critical east side.
- Reduce the worsening surface congestion - the “street fight” between buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians - in the Financial District, Union Square, Chinatown, North Beach, Fishermen’s Wharf and along the entire Central Subway corridor.
- Expand convention business opportunities by connecting Moscone Center to the Wharf’s 3,400 hotel rooms and 90,000 sq. ft. of meeting space.
- Help meet Plan Bay Area Goals by providing reliable transit connecting the densest areas of the city with Priority Development Areas while reducing greenhouse gas emissions (mandated by SB375).
- Meet SF’s Transit-First objectives with unparalleled resident and visitor ridership capacity.
- Reduce MTA operating costs by eliminating or consolidating surface lines.
The Next Stop.
Extending the Central Subway with just two additional subway stops means millions of trips a year to and from Fisherman’s Wharf, North Beach, and Telegraph and Russian Hills can be made smoothly, quickly and reliably – underground. Better transportation through these dense sectors also means:
- San Francisco’s NE neighborhoods remain vital and connected, instead of being limited to auto transit.
- NE Residents can access jobs (especially in growth areas like Mid-Market, Central Corridor, Mission Bay and the new Transbay Core) and services (like Mission Bay medical centers) without fighting their way through the City’s crowded core.
- Residents and visitors have easier access to NE businesses and attractions. Tourists and visitors can arrive by BART or Caltrain and make their way to popular NE attractions with no need for a car.
- The Wharf’s 7,400 workers have reliable connections to BART, Caltrain and Priority Development Area neighborhoods planned for residential expansion.
- Underutilized Wharf office and conference space becomes more viable for businesses and their workers.
- Wharf hotel rooms and meeting spaces would be just a few minute ride from Moscone Center, increasing the services San Francisco can offer larger conventions.
Removing this huge transportation flow from surface streets in the City’s most crowded, densest and most visited neighborhoods will:
- Reduce surface congestion – making the streets work better for deliveries, cabs, buses, bicycles and pedestrians as well as cars.
- Reduce travel times through the City core and reduce emissions.
- Make room for street and sidewalk improvements, facilitating a transition to a more sustainable livable city.
Extending the Central Subway helps better manage transportation in the NE neighborhoods.
- The residential areas surrounding Washington Square range in density from 55,000 to as high as 76,000 people per square mile. The rate of auto ownership is some of the lowest in the City. And, though the area is known for its beautiful hills, attractions and restaurants, many don’t realize that the NE neighborhoods are also home to a high number of low-income seniors and families. These highly compact, intensely inhabited blocks exceed the density and diversity that planners hope to achieve in areas currently targeted for residential expansion. The older NE residential neighborhoods have every desirable component modern planning aspires to - except reliable public transportation.
- The Wharf hosts 30-50,000 visitors and as many as 7,400 workers a day. Its attractions are the City’s most visited. The popular F Line is at capacity during peak periods and is not designed nor programmed for larger light rail vehicles. Similar conditions exist with other surface transit providing access to the Wharf, i.e. the 8x Bayshore Express and 30 Stockton. This results with The Embarcadero often being clogged to a standstill. Completing the Central Subway will relieve this pressure and result in a more efficient and idyllic waterfront.
- Because of NE topography there are few complete north-south corridors between Van Ness and the Embarcadero. The MTA has been consistently promoting reductions in automobile capacity for the main north-south arteries (Polk, Columbus, and the Embarcadero). An extended Subway will provide reliable, rapid and high-capacity public transit that relieves pressure on these routes.
- The proximity of the NE neighborhoods to the Financial District, Market Street and Union Square is a boon, unless you are trying to pass through the city core, in which case it becomes an impenetrable barrier. Significant additions and shifts to the City’s jobs, service and residential centers (the Mission Bay medical center, offices and residences; mid-Market; Bayview) only make transportation through the core more necessary – and surface transportation through the increasingly crowded core more unsustainable. An extended subway allows better access to the core but it also allows riders to smoothly bypass it for other destinations.
Helping Business, Families, Seniors and the Next Generation of San Franciscans
To what degree could easy, quick, reliable and safe transit increase the vitality of commerce in the NE neighborhoods?
- Growing congestion in the City core threatens to isolate the NE neighborhoods. Reliance on customers who arrive by car is threatening the viability of these classic sectors. The Mission's rise, by contrast, has been fueled in large part by its accessibility by public transit and bicycle. The availability of subsurface rapid transit puts restaurants, shops and attractions back within easy reach for City residents and visitors, including regional visitors making day trips into the City.
- For San Francisco - and especially for the City's mature neighborhoods- to thrive, the City must remain navigable by young families, seniors, and the less-abled This requires transportation planning that balances the “stick” of "street diets" with the "carrot" of viable non-car transit alternatives.
• Washington Square: A Station at the Pagoda site in North Beach would be opposite Washington Square, aiding visibility and way finding. It is located close to important surface lines. The parcel is large for the area, facilitating access for station building. The cost for a North Beach station is lessened by the fact that the tunnel connection to Pagoda site will be completed as part of the current subway phase. But the Pagoda site is to be returned to its current owner in May of 2015 for the construction of condos; there is an urgency to act now.
• Conrad Square in Fisherman’s Wharf: The Planning Department’s Fisherman’s Wharf Public Realm Plan, scheduled for review and adoption this fall, calls for the closure of the northernmost block of Columbus Avenue and the expansion of Conrad Square, with increased public space and visitor information. An enlarged Conrad Square could provide, sometime in the future, an excellent location for a Wharf stop for the Central Subway. It is another highly visible location with optimal way finding clues. It is publicly owned. It is close to east-west surface lines that provide connections west to Ft. Mason and east to Pier 39 and the Embarcadero. This site could also provide the opportunity to eventually continue the subway westward towards Russian Hill, the Marina and Presidio.
• Kirkland Yard is an alternative Wharf site for a subway station. The one block square parcel is City-owned. It is located near to Pier 39, the Wharf’s most visited destination. A project (possibly a transit oriented development) that accommodates Muni’s needs for a northern storage facility with higher uses could revitalize this area, transforming the existing eyesore in the middle of our key tourist district and, perhaps, helping to generate funds to offset the cost of the station.
Let’s complete the Central Subway to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, fulfilling the current project’s promises of speedy and reliable transit, improved connections and reduced congestion for the City’s densest areas.