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With six years of construction work to go and the contingency fund for San Francisco’s Central Subway project already down from $200 million to $70 million, this afternoon the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is scheduled to vote on the contract to construct the Subway’s three underground stations, elevated platform at Fourth and Brannan, and 1.5 miles of light-rail track.

Originally estimated to cost up to $750 million, the low bid for the Central Subway’s station and track work is $840 million, at least $90 million over original estimates. That being said, “Muni officials said the contract can be carried out without going over the $1.6 billion overall budget for the project,” a 1.7 mile extension of the T Third Line.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Fiasco

    Fiasco

  2. Posted by wc1

    I would be more supportive of this if there was going to be a North Beach station.

  3. Posted by Rob

    I’m 100% on board for any and all large scale improvements to our transit system… and totally understand that it’s easier to get support for incremental growth/extension in an overly democratic city like ours… but not taking this line all the way down to (at least) Washington square seems completely inefficient.
    I hope I’ll live long enough to see a few East/West lines… a Geary line and a 16th – Dogpatch line perhaps?

  4. Posted by Sam

    yea, its just madness this doesnt go to North Beach. Like, a write up in the NY Times, LA Times, and etc.. madness level

  5. Posted by Mark

    @Rob: sorry, but wishful thinking.
    AAAH! I am so sick of this boondoggle sapping the strength and funds of a city that can’t operate and effectively manage its 2013 transit system. Seriously, people. Enough is enough. I am 1 million percent for mass transit, but this project was doomed from the onset because it does nothing to solve the city’s transit problems, nor provide future extensions. Case in point: there will NEVER be a Geary subway. The MTA has sealed that fate by excluding any incorporation of a future platform at the proposed Union Square station. There will NEVER (sorry for the all caps again) be a North Beach station because the MTA decided a long time ago the whole purpose of the subway was a political move to appease Pak and her Chinatown cronies. Who in their right mind would build a half-mile tail track to Washington Square and not include a much-needed station at that location? Seriously?
    Keep in mind this entire project (Phases 1 and 2) will cost nearly $3 billion to basically replace the #15 bus.

  6. Posted by BTinSF

    A contingency fund exists for the inevitable contingencies and it’s not a major issue when they arise and it gets spent. With the 2 major contracts–digging the tunnel and building the rails and stations–in place, the final cost of this project should be coming into view and so far it’s under budget. There probably will be contingencies requiring the remaining $70 million to be spent, but so far there isn’t a lot of “there” there in this story–most large scale public works projects go over budget which is why they have contingency funds. And if San Francisco is ever to have grade-separated cross town transit infrastructure, NOW is the time to build it. It will only get more expensive.
    I completely disagree with those who say this line will never be extended to North Beach and even, someday the Marina. It will and that leads to my own one criticism of it–I wish the station platforms were longer to accommodate multi-car trains that will be needed when that happens.

  7. Posted by James

    I’m sorry but complaining about how it doesn’t go to North Beach reveals a certain bias… perhaps North Beach is more important on your subjective map of the city. But Chinatown is the densenst, most populous part of the city. It’s not just a halfway point between Union Square and North Beach (both spots presumably favored by readers of this blog). This is a great extension to an area that needs it. Could it be longer? Sure. But is going as far as Chinatown a waste of effort? Not at all.

  8. Posted by Mark

    @James: opponents aren’t saying that Chinatown doesn’t need a station. Like many other density-rich areas of the city, it is in desperate need of effective and efficient mass transit. The CS as it stands is a short-sighted, politically-motivated plan that should be scrapped and replaced with a more thoughtful transit plan that will better serve the needs of Chinatown and other transit-hungry areas of the city, both near term and long term. As for North Beach, it is often cited because it will bear the brunt of the CS construction, but none of the glory of having its own station.
    @BTinSF: the length of CS station platforms will accommodate 2-car trains, but MUNI only plans on running 1-car trains along the T route. To save on costs, MUNI opted to have shorter platforms. Regarding extensions, MUNI has not even looked into expanding past Chinatown so any hopes of a Phase 3 points north and/or west are decades away. This is not only sad, but ridiculous considering that we need better transit now (actually yesterday) and if MUNI thinks it’s expensive to build in 2013 it can only imagine how cost prohibitive it will be in 2023 or 2033.
    MTA’s goal for the CS may be 2020, but its vision sure is not.

  9. Posted by Mark Ballew

    The Central Corridor plan, which is intended to up-zone the area bounded by 3rd, Market, 6th, and Townsend, includes plans for a new line that is in TEP, the 11, which will transport passengers from North Beach and North Point to Caltrain to fill in the service gap the Central Subway neglects. 30/45 lines will remain in place due to the capacity limits of the Central Subway.

  10. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “30/45 lines will remain in place due to the capacity limits of the Central Subway.”
    Now that is insanity. Rail transit should serve as a huge sponge to sop up passenger trips along its corridor. It should not be capacity limited on its opening day.

  11. Posted by anon

    ^Exactly. $3 billion gets us a lower capacity than we had with the existing bus service. Infuriating.

  12. Posted by confused

    What is a “one car train”? Isn’t that a trolley? So is this really just an underground trolley line?

  13. Posted by JWS

    The frustrating aspect of this subway system is that it is only pushing us farther and farther away from the subway system we need.
    The skyrocketing popularity of Uber/Lyft/Sidecar should show one thing: that the newer citizens of SF, when faced with bus routes and light rail lines, will continue to find it quicker and more convenient to take cabs or drive. The only thing that will drive these incoming SF residents (because let’s face it, that is who wants to move into the city) onto public transport is a fast moving, underground subway that goes places and connects neighborhoods.
    By creating this half-assed system that goes nowhere and will still need Muni because of its limited capacity, all we are doing is pushing the date that SF gets the subway system it needs farther and farther away.

  14. Posted by JWS

    Oh and don’t even get me started on the one-car plan. That is ridiculous.
    What would be beautiful is an extension of this up the 30, with at least one North Beach station (Washington Square), and then some spots to funnel tourists from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf (maybe Bay and Columbus, or Bay and Van Ness, or both), and then to Chestnut and Fillmore (essentially providing great walkability to both Chestnut and Union). In my dreams though…

  15. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    Regarding cars and the size of the platforms to accommodate them, I noted elsewhere that I was at a Muni planning meeting for my neighborhood some time back and it was mentioned by Muni that they’re looking to upgrade the current cars from maximum size of 2 (think N-Judah) to 3. Of course they mentioned that the plan was to have 3-car trains in about 5 years. I guess they won’t be using them on this run due to the small size of the platforms, which is just plain weird since 3 car trains would help with the density issue along this route.

  16. Posted by NJ

    @Can’t think: I am curious — when was this meeting about three-car Muni trains?
    I ask because Muni Diaries ran a piece in 2011 about Muni’s testing three-car trains (see name link), but there has been no update there since then as to how the testing went, or if the plans were shelved.

  17. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    @NJ, I have the meeting in my calendar as “transportation meeting” that happened on January 14th at 200 Brannan. I went because I’ve attended CAC meeting in my neighborhood for both Pier 30 & 32/SWL330 and Giants Parking Lot A/SWL337.

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