San Francisco’s Central Subway: Make That 2018 And An Extra $278MApril 21, 2009
From the Examiner with respect to San Francisco’s 1.7 mile Central Subway project:
An ambitious plan to build a commuter subway between SoMa and Chinatown is going to cost more and will need an additional two years to complete.
Officials previously envisioned the Central Subway carrying passengers by 2016. But a newly released mandated federal study said the project will not be finished until December 2018 and that the total cost will likely be $1.58 billion, or $278 million more than The City had estimated.
December 2018? We’ll plan on 2019 and hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Comments from Plugged-In Readers
glad to see our subway is actually extending to places that people live. Now if they can extend it along Geary from Market to Cliff House.
$1 billion/mile. Sounds about right.
juju, Geary residents are told repeatedly that there is simply no money for such a thing. 🙁
I seriously don’t get the point of the central subway AT ALL. You can easily walk the length of it in no time!
I agree. You can walk the distance in no time. This project seems to me to be a waste of money at a time when there is no money.
And what will the multiplier be on the extra $278 million?
By 2019, you must be 60 or younger to be able to walk that distance.
Even though I will be old by the time it’s complete, and it will be expensive, I do think its a good idea. It should run down 3rd street or 2nd street though. I think 3rd would be the best, since you have Moscone / MOMA / 2nd street just right there. Not much happening along 5th.
It would have been much cheaper to build if it had crossed Market St. in a shallow dig, at the mezzanine level of the Powell St. station, over BART and MUNI, instead of under. The connections with BART and MUNI would have been much easier. But the construction would have been more disruptive, and MTA went for the deep tunnel.
Will people ride a subway in an area where a high degree of seismic activity is not an anomaly?
And then of course after the London Tube bombing on my line in my direction (for which I am grateful I had an early morning meeting) I never rode the Tube after that. Walked the 3 miles instead.
So what in all that money is set aside to prevent this–because certain the US immigration policy isn’t doing anything to prevent it.
BART is at max along Market, so room has to be left for expansion. There is a huge and growing amount of traffic from CalTrain to Market along 4th and this wil tap into that. I’m sure it will be more expensive than this estimate.
…if you’ve ever ridden the 30 Stockton in the pouring rain, at rush hour, you know just how useful this line will be. Chinatown and North Beach have massive density, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more people live in those two areas than the whole of the Geary corridor.
But maybe one of the planning wonks out there knows the answer to that…yes?
I’m not sure if the proposed CalTrain extension to the New transbay terminal makes any sense.
Doesn’t it seem like the Central Subway should go to the new Transbay Terminal, purportedly the “Grand Central Station of the West”?
I know it would be expensive.
Wow awesome…3 grand central stations for three easy payments of 7 billion! All within a 3 block radius of each other!
Bart + Muni Station
Caltrain’s subway station
I can’t wait to see the confusion on tourist eyes.
as a potential buyer in soma, i’m not sure if i want a subway line and subway stations at the corners where i live, purely from observing the type of people that like to hang around at these stations. not very pleasant.
I don’t think this extension is such a bad idea, especially if you want to get to Caltrain from Nob Hill/Chinatown/North Beach. Currently, you’d have to get to Market and then either take the loop all the way around Embarcadero, or walk there by foot – 15 minutes from Market. All of the North/South transportation in this town is done by really inconsistent bus service. This would help somewhwat, especially if you believe that SF is destined to become a bedroom community for Silicon Valley workers.
North Beach Tony – No, you’re off. Way off. Way, way, way, way, way off. North Beach and Chinatown are dense, sure, but they’re also very small areas.
The Geary corridor buses carry more than eight times the passengers of the Stockton corridor buses.
This “line” (hard to call it that with one stop in Chinatown and none in North Beach) won’t even carry passengers over the whole Stockton corridor, and will end up being at least another $1 billion before it’s said and done.
This would help somewhwat, especially if you believe that SF is destined to become has become a bedroom community for Silicon Valley workers.
Condoshopper – Be realistic – those types of people don’t already hang out on many of the corners in that part of SOMA anyway? No doubt east transit access increases property values, but a much cheaper and solution in this case would have been to close Stockton off to private vehicles through Chinatown (except local deliveries – this would be enforced by making the local lanes right turn only lanes at every single block) and then creating physically separated, enforced transit lanes on Stockton and 4th Sts south of Chinatown. You could even lay tracks and run the T up to Powell in the transit lanes.
Instead we are effectively spending $1+ billion to preserve a few worthless parking spaces along Stockton and to allow dumb tourists to drive slowly along Stockton instead of using one of the multiple parallel streets.
Should be ready in 2118 at a cost of an extra $278 trillion.
If the idea is to inflate the cost of this project to try to secure more bailout money then I say, well done! For as long as the feds are handing out tasty free money, it is our obligation to beg and whine and bring as much of it to SF as we possibly can.
Maybe we can get Obama to pay for half of the new Bay Bridge too?
“as long as the feds are handing out tasty free money”
It’s only free if you don’t have kids.
For as long as the feds are handing out tasty free money, it is our obligation to beg and whine and bring as much of it to SF as we possibly can.
I couldn’t agree more. It’s a free for all, and everyone should try to seek out as much as possible for himself before the edifice crumbles. That goes for individuals as well, who should seek to “free ride” off the foolish wherever plausible and walk away from debts whenever the financial benefits outweight the detriments. None of this has anything to do with morals or “personal responsibility”. I’m not being sarcastic – I really believe this. Welcome to the Obamanation.
It’s only free if you don’t have kids.
My advice if to grab as much as you can and preserve it as best you can for your children. Don’t be a sucker and trust that the USG is going to keep this house of cards standing by the time they reach adulthood. Given the attitude of entitlement that is so prevalent in the Obamanation, such a course of action should be pretty easy to square with ideas of personal morality.
Anybody who says that they don’t get the point of this, that “you can walk that distance” has apparently not ridden the 30 or 45 down Stockton from Washington Sq. to Market at any time between 7:30 am – 6 pm.
Not saying it’s all worth it, but it’s just dense to ignore the fact that thousands of people ride MUNI for just that short distance every day.
It’s only free if the Feds are going to pay for the next 100 years of operations too. Studies by the consultants that Muni hired showed that this subway will put large amounts of undue stress on the system as a whole and increase operating costs substantially (mostly because all of the bus lines currently operating in the Stockton corridor will have to continue operating – this doesn’t replace any of them and will likely have exceptionally low ridership, maybe 20% of expectations, per the consultants)
JC – the next time you ride the 30 or 45, note how many people get on at the ONE STOP that this thing will have in Chinatown AND how many of those same people RIDE IT TO UNION SQUARE. Market doesn’t count, because the walk from the Union Square station to Market will be about 10 minutes (since the station is ten stories underground and has a very looooong tunnel to Market).
You’re correct that the corridor needs help. The problem is that this doesn’t help the corridor. It would be like saying that there’s too much traffic between LA and SF and then widening I-5 between Sacramento and Bakersfield. Sure, it may help a little bit for some of the route, but it doesn’t address the main problems, which will still exist.
If we are going to spend all of this money, why don’t we spend a little (lot) more and just do it right?
For example, put the Transbay Terminal on top of the embarcadero bart station, so that BART/Muni already go right into it, and you’ll be a block from the ferry terminal. Then run the new rail and caltrain into that.
Then, once you build this new chinatown line, extend it all the way toward the wharf, and ensure it connects with the market st stations properly.
From there we can get rid of the streetcars down market, and run the F on the 3 surface south beach stops that the T will no longer cover. Because, aside from ball game days, no one is going to ride from downtown to Caltrain via those stations anymore. We can even rename it E, for embarcadero.
Instead, we just spend billions on a half-ass solution, and then complain Muni is broken and costs too much.
The purpose of the subway was not to improve the 30/45 sardine can packed buses. The purpose of the subway was to replace the freeway that ran above Embarcadero and dropped people from the south bay and east bay off into China town. This isn’t being done for your benefit or the benefit of the people who live in Chinatown, it’s being done to replace a corridor that was removed and not replaced.
The purpose was not to avoid a walk: people from the south bay are suburbanites who won’t walk more than a block or two in an unfamiliar and relatively scary city.
This solves the purpose: it allows people from the south bay to ride cal train or bart and not feel like they have been dumped into an unfamiliar part of town. Suburbanites have a dim view of buses and so they just don’t consider the 30/45 that runs almost the same route to be a substitute.
The bay areans can look at a map and it’s a straight shot to Chinatown on that thing and it isn’t a bus so they’ll take it, from bart, caltrain or even the freeways.
Arguing over how effective it will be is like arguing about how ridiculous the blue and gold ferry to Alcatraz doesn’t go all the way across the bay so it’s a waste, etc.
This isn’t for us, it’s for them.
^^^That may be true tipster. But it doesn’t explain why Muni [i]says[/i] that it’s to help the Stockton corridor, nor explain why we’re pumping more than $250 million in local money into it.
It will help the corridor some. People who want to avoid the sardine cans and who are going farther will avoid it.
And the $250M will be worth it. First, its primary purpose is to help businesses in Chinatown. If the out of towners weren’t going to spend, we wouldn’t be building it at all. Second, it was the deal we made to bring back the waterfront, which has benefitted all of us immensely.
Prior to the earthquake, that area was a dark, noisy no man’s zone. After the earthquake, the city wanted to tear it down, while the chinatown businesses wanted it rebuilt. So they agreed on a compromise: the central subway would replace the freeway. They tore the embarcadero freeway down, the city was much better for it, and the china town businesses got screwed. So 30 years later, we’re doing what we said we’d do. The $250Mil was a fair trade for what we got.
It’s a political process and compromises are often made that don’t seem to be ideal for everyone, but it will work out pretty well for everyone when you consider what we all got and what we all paid. $250Mil is about $300 for every citizen. The tearing down of the freeway was worth it, if you ask me.
Crap, if I keep talking, I’m going to out myself and you’ll realize that my real identity is Gavin Newsom. Shhhhh…
“It’s a free for all, and everyone should try to seek out as much as possible for himself before the edifice crumbles.”
“Given the attitude of entitlement that is so prevalent in the Obamanation, such a course of action should be pretty easy to square with ideas of personal morality.”
This attitude of entitlement has been prevalent among the entire populace for some time now, regardless of political ideology. One might argue, even, that it is the defining mindset of the Baby Boomer generation.
A sharp eye only needs to observe us Americans abroad for about ten seconds to understand how ingrained in our national character this attitude is. Hell, we’ve elected our last two presidents strictly on the basis of entitlement.
I don’t disagree with your analyses of Obama’s many missteps, but to imply that this attitude came in with the Obamanation misses the mark.
tipster, for cost you need to add in the additional $12 million net increase per year in operations costs that this project will cost. Doesn’t seem like quite the bargain now, does it?
The crux of your argument seems to be that I need to, in essence, make a $300 in-kind payment to chinatown businesses in order to have a nice waterfront. That seems ridiculous.
If the only beneficiaries are the Chinatown businesses and out-of-towners, then why don’t they pay for it? If I have to pay for it, then it should be at least partially useful to me, so that everyone can benefit.
“tipster, for cost you need to add in the additional $12 million net increase per year in operations costs that this project will cost. Doesn’t seem like quite the bargain now, does it?”
Depends on the tax revenue it generates.
“If the only beneficiaries are the Chinatown businesses and out-of-towners, then why don’t they pay for it? If I have to pay for it, then it should be at least partially useful to me, so that everyone can benefit.”
I’m guessing that half the bus lines in SF have never helped you at all, but you’re paying for them. Conversely, the bus lines and roads you DO use are probably not used by the people who run the chinatown businesses, and yet they paid for those bus lines and roads.
It’s a political process and you can either organize and buy the influence the china town business owners have bought over the years, or you’re just going to have to accept the political reality that is sometimes going to pass you by. It’s a democracy for hire, NOT a democracy. Money matters. You didn’t “donate” any so your vote is worth less.
Crap, there I go again: I’m really not Gavin. I swear!
Wow… OK. That’s a nice walk if you’re a tourist, but some of us actually want to be transported from place to place faster than we can walk. As it stands, I don’t see the point of the 30 stockton… that’s for sure. But I find the lack of underground transport in SF really frustrating.
I’m still on the fence as to whether this is really worth it in the end based on how much ridership there will really be. But I think if the city is ever to reach its purported goal of getting people to and around without regularly resorting to cars, connecting these 2 areas with below-ground transport is pretty essential.
This just makes it that much more amazing that NYC has such a phenomenal subway system. If they went at the pace of SF it probably would have taken them 500 years to build it.
^^^Things would be a lot easier for us if we had turn of the 20th century labor laws and building codes.
Although nobody likes when Los Angeles is brought up here, they have built more rail and underground lines in the time while San Francisco continues to talk about where a short line should go. But, since this is Los Angeles, I am sure it will be bashed, but the artwork they have in each station is a nice surprise, and the new 11 mile line to Pasadena I rode from downtown was CLEAN!, fast, and crowded. Still, I would rather live in S.F,. even with our dirty trains, busses and homeless camped outside of each station.
^^I think it’s the Planning Codes holding everything up, rather than Building Codes.
Google “Second avenue subway” and read the history of the project to get an idea of how much more efficient things are in modern NYC than SF.
But to the person who was afraid of the Nasty Awful Subway people (or perhaps he fears C.H.U.D.s?), given experience in NYC, proximity to subway lines increases property values.
lolcat – witness the multi-decade fights over the 2nd Ave Subway and the extension of the 7 to Javits to see that NYC isn’t immune to the protestations of the established classes.
The NYC Subway could *NEVER* be built in today’s day and age. Read up on the real history of the NYC subway and you’ll be amazed at how much stuff was just DONE, with no public input or even care. Stuff that affected thousands and tens of thousands of residents, in ways both positive and negative.
Some would argue that the way things were done in the first half of the 20th century are why it’s so hard to get things done today. People got tired of being ignored and the pendulum has swung too far the other direction.
Global cities today with active, large subway projects are cities where local residents *DO NOT HAVE A SAY IN WHAT HAPPENS* to their neighborhood. It took subway construction destabilizing massive archaelogical sites in Athens to stop one line being shoved down a neighborhood’s throat.
PS. Because it’s always the first thing people ask: I think we’ve gone too far and given residents too much power to stop things that have a greater good for more people. I also think Robert Moses-style development is wrong, too. I don’t have a solution, sorry.
NYC started its subway system in the 1880s while SF didn’t start on BART until the 1960s. Having a metro area of around half the size or less and starting 80 or so years later might explain some of the differences.
$175,000 per foot.
To be clear this cost estimate is for Phase 1, a subway that terminates in Chinatown with the bore to Wash. Sq. Park. Not what is shown in green.
I think the Central Subway is a waste – BRT lanes would make do (clear out the private cars and taxis and limit delivery truck hours on Stockton)
What ever happened to Aaron Peskin’s proposal to allow MUNI to negotiate salaries with drivers? Last I heard, they’re paid $27 or so an hour, pegged to two of the highest-paying bus operator wages in the nation. Is that still the story?
San Francisco is *so* stuck in the 80’s, and unless there is a huge change in mentality (and politics), it is going to be forever playing catch-up. I think “San Francisco” (if you could ever figure out exactly what that entity is) rested on its Laurels for far too long.
I’m sure some people love having an 80’s city – with 80’s public transit, and 80’s infrastructure. It would be nice to think that people on SocketSite might actually have the will to give the “city” a kick in the pants and get it moving, but given the infighting, rudeness, and name calling I see on here – well, if you can draw an extrapolations from SocketSite to San Francisco itself, then The City is basically doomed! :->
This project seems ill-conceived to me – it seems that the money could be better spent. But if the money is *not* spent on this subway, I’m not really all that sure that it will be spent in a better way anyway. Some progress is better than no progress at all…
While this route has major problems, as others have noted, I think it could eventually be worth the cost if it were ever extended up Columbus to the west end of the Fisherman’s Wharf area, through the hill to Ft. Mason, and on to the Marina and eventually the Presidio.
It won’t ever happen, of course. But one can dream.
Some original quotes;
“glad to see our subway is actually extending to places that people live. Now if they can extend it along Geary from Market to Cliff House.”
“Geary residents are told repeatedly that there is simply no money for such a thing. :-(”
That may be true, but I have worked on studies of how to connect the Kaiser Permanente buildings on either side of Geary near Divisadero for patient to safety move back and forth.
We were told that SF MUNI has an easement on geary from at grade to +33 feet for surface lightrail and from surface to -90 feet for a subway. I guess if they do get the money they will have plenty of options.
“I’m sure some people love having an 80’s city – with 80’s public transit, and 80’s infrastructure.”
I’d be happy with just 1930s public transit.
It is amazing how far backwards automobile centered transportation has taken us.
One of my peninsula clients had an antique poster from the late 1800s on his office wall announcing a new train service. The poster read “Burlingame to San Francisco in just 26 minutes !”. Then I looked at the current CalTrain schedule : 31 minutes.
We talk about being in a SF bubble – we’re in a pro-development bubble here on Socketsite.
In one of my hobbies I am the youngest by a minimum of 15-20 years. Every person in that particular hobby is financially secure from living the mid-late 20th century dream of working hard, buying a home, retiring on a pension. They all had normal jobs with normal salaries – none of this “you have to be top dog in your field to even THINK about buying in SF” that permeates so much today.
Every single one of them hates what San Francisco has become. They hate the crowds of yuppies, they hate condos, they hate highrises, they hate MUNI/public transit, they hate hate HATE everything. They also vote and they attend meetings and they do everything they can to make sure nothing ever changes.
This is what happens when a city prices out the middle class. Those with differing views just leave and for those of us left who just can’t hate hate hate and fight fight fight every waking moment are stuck. This crowd all wants no subway to Chinatown OR any change to Geary. I no longer even mention non-hobby related topics – it’s too easy to get someone going.
Quote: “One of my peninsula clients had an antique poster from the late 1800s on his office wall announcing a new train service. The poster read “Burlingame to San Francisco in just 26 minutes !”. Then I looked at the current CalTrain schedule : 31 minutes.”
Per a Channel 9 PBS Program: There was a pre WWII time when you could get on a street car at the Eastbay Terminal and take it across the Bay Bridge to Oakland. There you would transfer to an east bay line and you could steadily go east, changing street cars many times, bored as hell, but eventually you would end up in Sacramento.
“changing street cars many times, bored as hell, but eventually you would end up in Sacramento. ”
Surely one had to switch to heavier rail at some point?
“Surely one had to switch to heavier rail at some point?”
Not at all. In fact, the Sacramento/Northern electric railway ran from the Transbay Terminal all the way to Chico for a short time between 1939 and 1941. You can still see the street cars and travel on some of the original track at the Western Railway Museum near Rio Vista in Solano County.
^^^Nope. There were “interurbans” the whole way (a little bit larger than the streetcars you see using the F line, but still a single car streetcar) connecting different cities along the route.
History will laugh at these comments. Yeah, let’s not improve our public transportation system. Great idea.
Ever consider those on the T Third wanting to get to work along Market? Get to Union Square? Make it to the north side of the city? Or is that not appealing?
When this subway runs its first train, please do a Hunters Point “apples to apples” comparison between today and 10 years from now.
These decisions are made for the future, not for octoganarians at your fly-tying classes reminiscing on nickle beers and when Sinatra was king.
Wanna save money?, let’s get rid of the J-Church and open a BART station at 30th.
What would Herb Caen say?
obro – I want to improve transit and invest for the future. That’s precisely why I’m 100% against this massive misallocation of scarce transit dollars.
ofro – please remember that the 15 bus had higher ridership and took less time than the T does to trek its path – you think that it will speed up on the current route when a tunnel ahead is bored? If so, I’d love to hear the logic on that one. Also remember that the Central Subway will not have a station at Market (the Union Square station will be about a ten minute walk away since the station will be almost ten stories below ground and three blocks from Market)
$1,500,000,000/50,000 riders/day/365 days/year*$2/fare = Payoff in 41.1 years.
Not that I am against it — but it won’t make sense for probably 60 years. Let’s make sure we develop the corridor to support the train.
^^^You’re forgetting operational costs. The $2 fares won’t even cover the operational costs each year (not that public transit should ever pay for itself through fares, but just saying)
Oh, obro…if only. I’ve read the (old) studies on the 30th St. BART station, and I know it will never happen – that window of opportunity slipped away many years ago. But it would be soooo sweet for the folks in Bernal, and would relieve a lot of rush hour congestion on the Mission bus routes between 24th and 30th. I pine.
At $1.7 billion (with a ‘b’) this has a pricetag of over $2200 for every man, woman and child in San Francisco (most of whom, will never ride the subway).
> At $1.7 billion (with a ‘b’) this has a pricetag of over
> $2200 for every man, woman and child in San Francisco
> (most of whom, will never ride the subway).
Using Dg’s population of 773K and assuming that we pay for this boondoggle with a 30 year bond at 6% the total cost including interest will be about $4.7 B (and since we all know that this thing will go over budget and since municipal bond yields are on the way up it is safe to say it will cost at least $5.0B or $6,400 for every man, woman and child in SF)…
^^^Um, no. Most of the money is coming from the feds, who have a significantly lower interest rate that they can borrow at.
Crikey. This is like rant hour at the rest home. People are actually doing cost benefit analysis of fare intake for public transit?
Could we please do the same calculation to decide whether we need streets?
I cannot believe that we’re not all fighting to build the central subway AND the Geary avenue subway. We need no less than both, and probably a lot more.
I live in North Beach and often walk all the way to Caltrain not because I want to, because I can, or because it’s pleasant. I walk because the streets are so clogged that I can make it faster on foot than I can in the 30 Stockton or the 45.
We need more people using transit, and we need to put financial disincentives in place to discourage the use of private cars. This situation is not going into reverse. Detroit is bankrupt for a reason. Are we really unable to learn this lesson?
most of whom, will never ride the subway
I never drive along Geary. Can I have my money back for that one?
What City infrastructure do you rely on that doesn’t get used by absolutely everybody?
London One Way Subway Fare 1 Zone: 4 Pounds=$5.80
London One Way Subway Fare 1 Zone: 4 Pounds=$5.80
But only the tourists pay that, the locals get an oyster card and a big discount….
LOL. this town sucks.
I won’t pretend that the price tag is going to go down for the Central Subway project, but here’s a lesson in Bubblenomics courtesy of BART.
BART is awarding its first contract for a 5.4 mile-long rail extension in Fremont to a joint venture that bid $136.7 million, 45 percent below the engineer’s estimate for the project… BART officials said the bids were driven down by stiff competition among contractors for work in the current recession, and a decline in costs for cement and steel rebar.
I bet the Central Subway comes in at less than the latest estimate too. I wish they would use the extra money to underground it the whole way.
Leaving it above ground like that is going to cause no end of problems.
LMAO @ LRMIM
“It’s a free for all, and everyone should try to seek out as much as possible for himself before the edifice crumbles.”
Makes sense to me. We have Pelosi and Feinstein, might as well beg and scream.
Would this be the world’s shortest subway?
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