UNITED STATES—The term MUNI refers to a city-wide interconnecting commuter system under management of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. This institution, established to provide transportation solutions, manages its own fleet of buses, light-rail trains, streetcars and cable cars. Its operation focuses on providing the city with fuel-efficient and environmentally safe forms of mass transit. Throughout the years, the agencies within MUNI provide the community of San Francisco with innovative transportation solutions. The latest of these solutions is the progressive Central Subway Project.
The Central Subway Project has been working hard to expand its services to include four new locations. As the name suggests, three of these stations are subterranean. Specifically, the expansion covers a little more than a mile and half of the T-third Street train line. Most people refer to as the T-Line. This expansion can be described as massive undertaking, due to the cost involved at a total of more than a billion dollars. The T-Line start date goes back to 2007. The opening of its four new stops in 2022 marks the first major change in the train line since it started running.
The new Additions and Locations to the T-Third Train Line
The additions of these new locations to the T-Line extension are the 4th and Brannan Platform, with stations being Yerba Buena/Moscone, Union Square and Chinatown-Rose Pak. The locations for these new T-Line stops have been positioned closely to other stations or well-known intersections within city limits. Of course, traveling between the four new stops is quick and convenient form of commute. This really makes their construction an interconnected solution to travel throughout San Francisco.
The 4th and Bannon platform stands north of Brannan Street on the 4th Street Median. It’s located three blocks north of the 4th and King Station in Caltrain. The platform is the connecting stop to the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station. The entrance to this underground location is on the corner of 4th and Clementina Street. The train line then travels northbound to connect with the Union Square Station which sits underground. It has an entrance located on the northwest corner of the Stockton and Geary Street. As the terminus of the T-Line extension, Chinatown-Rose Pak Station is well received within the community. It has an entrance on the southwest corner of Stockton and Washington Street.
Heading TBD What does the new Expansion Bring to the Table
As a way of introducing the Central Subway Project expansion to the San Francisco community, T-line trains are operating with limited services. This is just a temporary measure that allows project management the opportunity to fix any oversights and last-minute kinks. It means trains are only making connections between the four new stops. During this limited service, the trains running to and from the four new locations do not connect with the rest of the MUNI system by way of 4th and King Station. This limited schedule runs until the first week of January 2023. Due to the limited connectivity, passengers wanting to travel between new locations have to board via the 4th and Brannan platform. The limited services are free until Jan 7th. To accommodate commuter need within the MUNI system, certain adjustments need to happen, while trains are conducting test runs. Specifically, the K-Ingleside and T-third Street lines have to merge, in order to take passengers Balboa Park to Sunnydale. This merging of lines doesn’t throw off the T line, as the train still makes its usual maneuvers involving King Street, the Embarcadero and Market Street Subway.
The Overall Scope of Services Available
After the T-line finishes with trial runs, there are going to be changes in its operations. Specifically, the trains on this line stop transporting passengers to Market Street stations. As an alternative route, the T-line runs along 4th Street from King to the 4th and Brannan platform. From that location, trains head to the subway stations, and ultimately take passengers to SoMa, Bayview-Hunters Point, Dogpatch and Mission Bay. The expansion does more than add miles of rail to the MUNI system. It provides awesome services, with trains having run times of 10 minutes during weekdays. Other noteworthy service changes include making Embarcadero Station the last stop on the K-Ingleside line.
How Much is the Fare for MUNI Services
While T-Line trains operate with limited services, fares are suspended for passengers. Starting January 7th 2023, the fare for subway and MUNI service is $2.50, which is fair compared to other mass transit systems nationally. One very real concern regarding the fare should be the methods of payment.
Central Subway Project passengers can use cash to pay for their rides, because fair machines have been installed at stations. Using a Clipper Card could be a form of payment. However, that would require machines to load monies onto cards. Fortunately, technology has a good solution when it comes to paying for MUNI services. It called the Clipper App which has digital wallet functionality.
Who Provides the Finances Needed on MUNI Projects
There has been conversation and criticism about the Central Subway Project, over the amount of money invested for the expansion. Some people are clearly outspoken about the MUNI transit system, and that’s fine. However, the conversations and critiques of the Central Subway Project rarely mention funding sources by name. Moreover, the complexities involved with the management of city-owned worksite can often defy explanation.
Funding for the Central Subway Project comes from the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the State of California and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The T-line expansion exists as a major construct engineered to change landscapes across the entire city. Most of the money that funded the expansion has been allocated through programs from the FTA and the U.S. Department of Transportation. According to federal law and regulation, funding for the subways and train lines couldn’t be used for anything else.
Is it safe?
In late 2022, 4 people were injured during a light rail crash when 2 trains crashed into each other. In general, most MUNI transportation is indeed very safe. MUNI is what is called a “common carrier”, and attorneys point out that these carriers are held to a high standard of care. The Central Subway Project does appear, at first glance, to be very well planned and an asset to the Bay Area.
Where to go for Answers
If you want to know all about the Central Subway Project, the construction office should prove useful as an authoritative source of information. The project headquarters has a staff of professionals who answer questions from the community during drop-in hours. Below are the office hours and its location:
Central Subway Project Office
530 Bush St. Suite 400 (4th Floor)
M-F 9am to 5pm