Central Subway Update - March 9, 2016

  • A study of the completion of the T-Line/Central Subway from Chinatown to North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf was completed in October 2014, a joint effort of the SFMTA, the CTA and the San Francisco Planning Department. Here are some highlights of that study:
  • Extending the subway to North beach and Fisherman’s Wharf, adding just 2 more stops, would increase daily ridership on the T-Line by 55% - 41,000 more people a day.
  • One quarter of the additional passengers would be new riders of the Muni System, helping to reduce auto trips. Three quarters would be passengers moving to the T-Line from other busses, cable cars and streetcars – relieving overcrowding on the 30 Stockton, the F-Line and other parts of the stressed transit system.
  • As many as 125,000 visitors and workers can travel to Fisherman’s Wharf alone in a single day. A completed subway will reduce surface congestion on roads and sidewalks in Union Square, the Financial District, Chinatown, North Beach and other crowded NE neighborhoods.
  • The completed subway would cut transit times in half – from 50% to 65% faster than existing transit service.  For example, public transit travel time between the Caltrain station and Fisherman’s Wharf, currently 30-40 minutes, would decrease to 15 minutes on the T-Line.
  • The subway is expected to be operating at peak capacity from the day it opens. A “loop” configuration of the extension through Fisherman’s Wharf could eliminate turnaround times, compressing the time between trains to the 3 minutes or less needed for the system to operate at peak efficiency.
  • The extension can compete well for Federal funding. It qualifies for a ‘high’ rating – the best on the FTA “New Starts” funding five-tier scale (the federal government's primary financial resource for supporting locally-planned, implemented, and operated transit capital investments).
  • The study highlighted a subway under Columbus Street ending at Conrad Square or a subway underneath Powell Street to the Kirkland Yard as best options comparing routes, surface vs. subway, passenger experience, operational efficiency, system performance, local operations, infrastructure resiliency, construction disturbance, capital construction cost and risk.
  • Several configurations are possible for long-term future further expansions past Fisherman’s Wharf to neighborhoods to the west – including Russian Hill, the Marina and the Presidio.

What are the next steps towards extending T-Line?

The MTA has put community outreach and design development for the Central Subway Phase III into the upcoming 17/18 FY budget.  This is great news and means that, as long as the budget gets approval,  community outreach and further evaluation of the concepts proposed in the Phase 3 Initial Study will be fully funded at $1.25 million in Fiscal Year 2017 with Proposition B General Fund Set Aside funds.  The program would contain the following elements:

1) Community Outreach:  Opportunities for neighbors, businesses and transit riders to weigh in on the extension - open houses/public meetings, stakeholder briefings, electronic outreach, rider intercept surveys, and workshops.

2) North Beach Station Feasibility Options:  Further study and updates on possible locations for surface access to a North Beach station to be located in the general vicinity of Washington Square Park. (The train station will be located under Columbus Avenue, but surface access is required for a station entrance.)

3) Fisherman’s Wharf Station Concept:  In addition to potential City-owned parcels considered in the 2014 study, new studies will consider the possible use of privately owned parcels at Fisherman’s Wharf.

4) Western Extension Options and Corridors:  A look at possible rail extension alignment options to the Marina/Cow Hollow/Lower Pacific Heights and other areas located west of North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf. 

5) Screening of Phase 3 Concept Study Alignment Options:  Further study of the previously proposed alignments and recommendations for elimination of less probable options.

6) Further development of cost estimates, benefits and impacts associated with Phase 3 Concepts that Pass the Screening Process: More detailed study of the most promising alternatives.

How can supporters help?

  1. Write letters of support to sfmtabudget@sfmta.com expressing your support for having the Central Subway Phase III study in the FY 2017 and FY 2018 MTA budget.
  2. Participate in the SFMTA Budget 2017-2018 Webinar or Budget Open Houses