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SFMTA’s Central Subway will connect San Francisco’s southeast neighborhoods to downtown and Chinatown. Whether you’re a concerned citizen, business owner, Muni customer, or just stumbled onto our blog, we welcome your questions and encourage you to connect with us. Follow us for the latest Central Subway news and information.

03 May 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Central Subway FAQs: Muni impacts, ridership, funding and more

Chinatown_train

With support from Washington and continued progress on construction and contracts, the Central Subway Project has accomplished major milestones in recent months. More achievements – including a commitment from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to provide nearly $1 billion in New Starts funding – are on the horizon, paving the way for tunneling and station construction to begin this year.

Extending Muni’s T Third Line through SoMa and into Union Square and Chinatown will benefit thousands of San Franciscans and vastly improve the Bay Area’s transportation network. The Central Subway will reduce travel times for residents, workers and visitors traveling through a congested corridor that has long been in need of improved public transit.

We on the Central Subway team believe it is important to provide useful, relevant information to the public about the project as it continues to advance. We have put together this blog post to answer questions that have arisen about the project’s costs, ridership, impacts on Muni and more.

Ridership


The T Third Line is expected to become Muni’s most heavily used light rail line soon after the Central Subway opens. It will travel through some of San Francisco’s most densely populated areas – and also through several areas that are expected to see remarkable population growth, including Mission Bay, Bayview/Hunter’s Point and Yerba Buena. More than half of San Francisco’s jobs and a significant proportion of projected job growth are located within the neighborhoods the T Third Line will serve. It will be an essential artery for travel around San Francisco, and also for connecting customers to the Bay Area’s transportation network.

  • T Third Line ridership: By 2030, ridership on the T Third Line is projected to be about 20 percent higher than on the most heavily used existing Muni line, the N Judah Line. About 65,000 customers per day are projected to ride the T Third Line in 2030.
  • Central Subway ridership: The Central Subway is expected to attract extremely high usage compared to other light rail projects around the country (see the table below). Only the Downtown Subway in Los Angeles is projected to have more daily boardings per mile in 2030. For just the Central Subway portion of the T Third Line, ridership in 2030 is projected at 35,100 daily boardings.
  • Ridership in 2019: Ridership projections for the entire T Third Line are 43,700 for the Central Subway’s opening year.

Table: FY 2030 Daily Boardings per Mile for Light Rail Projects around the Country

U.S. Light Rail Projects State 2030 Avg. Daily Boardings* Route Miles Daily Boardings per Mile
Los Angeles, Regional Connector, Downtown Subway CA 88,200 1.9 46,421
SFMTA, T Third Phase 2 (Central Subway) CA 35,100 1.7 20,647
Seattle, University Link WA 40,200 3.1 12,968
Vancouver, Columbia River Crossing WA 21,400 2.9 7,379
Houston, North Corridor TX 29,000 5.2 5,577
Houston, Southeast Corridor TX 28,700 6.5 4,415
St. Paul – Minneapolis, Central Corridor MN 40,900 11.0 3,718
Mesa, Central Mesa Extension AZ 11,900 3.1 3,839
Portland, Milwaukie Project OR 22,800 7.3 3,123
Sacramento, South Sacramento Corridor Phase 2 CA 10,000 4.3 2,326
Charlotte, Northeast Corridor NC 23,800 10.6 2,245
Dallas, Northwest / Southeast TX 45,900 21.0 2,186
Salt Lake City, Draper UT 6,800 3.8 1,789
Salt Lake City, Mid Jordan UT 9,500 10.6 896

*http://www.fta.dot.gov/publications/reports/reports_to_congress/planning…

Impacts on Muni


The Central Subway will vastly improve Muni service for customers traveling along the busy 4th Street and Stockton Street corridors. Currently it takes more than 20 minutes – and sometimes much longer – during peak travel times to go from Caltrain to Chinatown on the Muni 30 Stockton or the 45 Union/Stockton. The route is crowded, and buses are consistently packed to capacity. The Central Subway will complete this 1.7-mile trip in just eight minutes. It will also be able to accommodate expected increases in ridership.

When the Central Subway opens to the public in 2019, it will not increase Muni fares, and its impacts on existing Muni service and the SFMTA operating budget will be modest:

Service:

  • Service on most Muni bus routes will not be affected by the opening of the Central Subway. The only exception is the 30 Stockton’s short route. This route runs between the Caltrain Station and North Point and Van Ness. It will be eliminated once the Central Subway opens because the Central Subway will cover almost the exact same route.
  • No service reductions are planned for the full 30 Stockton route, which runs between Caltrain and the Marina. The same is true for the 45 Union/Stockton, the 8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express and the other routes that operate along the Central Subway alignment.

Fares:

  • Claims that fares will increase as a result of funding the Central Subway are without merit. Funding for the project comes from federal, state and local sources, not from the SFMTA’s operating budget.
  • Even if the SFMTA does issue revenue bonds, the revenue bonds that would be issued would come from sources already included in the SFMTA’s budget. No increase to the operating budget would be required to issue bonds.

Operating budget:

  • The Central Subway, with its 35,100 projected daily boardings, will increase the SFMTA’s annual operating budget by less than 0.25 percent. When the Central Subway opens to the public in 2019, it is expected to increase the SFMTA’s overall operating budget by $1.76 million. By 2030, the cost of operating the subway is projected to be $6.89 million. These numbers are included in the FY2012 New Starts submission.
  • The challenges that the SFMTA faces with regard to its operating budget are driven by current budgetary challenges and not by the addition of much-needed rail service.

Cost


Constructing a new subway beneath a vibrant urban core like downtown San Francisco is a lot of work, and it requires a major investment. Included in the cost of the Central Subway Project are a number of major construction components, including tunneling under a densely populated urban area, constructing three subway stations and a surface-level station, installing operating systems and train tracks, purchasing new light rail vehicles and planning and administering the project.

Here is more information about the Central Subway’s estimated cost:

  • The earliest project cost estimate of $647 million was based on an early conceptual engineering plan. The estimate served as a placeholder until a more accurate cost could be calculated. Accounting for inflation, this estimate equals $995 million in 2011 dollars.
  • The current cost estimate increased to $1.6 billion for the following reasons:
    • The proposed project alignment changed from 3rd Street to 4th Street, and the tunneling method changed from shallow tunneling to deep tunneling. These changes will result in faster travel times for Central Subway customers, a quicker construction timeline and reduced surface disruption during construction. During the preliminary engineering phase, an in-depth cost analysis incorporating these changes increased the cost estimate.
    • The FTA performed a risk assessment on the project as part of the New Starts process. They recommended increasing the cost estimate by $200 million to allow for additional cost- and schedule-related contingencies. The SFMTA’s baseline budget for the Central Subway Project has remained at $1.578 billion since the addition of these FTA-recommended contingencies.
  • The cost per mile of building the Central Subway is less than half the cost per mile of New York City’s two subway projects.
  • When taken together, the per mile cost of constructing both phases of the T Third Line will be significantly less than light rail projects in Los Angeles and Seattle that also include a subway component.

FTA: Cost per Mile of New Starts Projects with Subway Segments

Cost per mile comparison

*http://www.fta.dot.gov/publications/reports/reports_to_congress/planning_environment_12279.html

Revenue Bonds


  • The contingency funding plan approved by the SFMTA Board and the Board of Supervisors is just that: a contingency plan.
  • Revenue bonds would be issued only in the following scenario:
    • The $61 million in state High Speed Rail Connectivity funds are delayed or the project receives less of these funds than expected.
    • The contingency funds budgeted for the project to cover unexpected costs or schedule delays are used. In total, $200 million is budgeted to cover contingencies.
    • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is expected to provide nearly $1 billion in funding to the Central Subway Project through its New Starts program, requested this additional assurance as part of its stringent review process.

We encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about the Central Subway Project. You can reach us at central.subway@sfmta.com or by phone at 415-701-4371.

For timely updates on construction and project progress, you can find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/centralsubway) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/central_subway).

01 May 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Board of Supervisors, SFMTA Board unanimously approve key resolutions to advance Central Subway Project

BOS discussing assurance funding

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously passed five resolutions to advance the Central Subway Project.

Today the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board of Directors unanimously passed several resolutions to move the Central Subway Project forward.

Both boards passed resolutions approving a contingency funding plan that would allow the Central Subway to advance on schedule even if state bond funds associated with the California high-speed rail project are delayed. In the event of a delay in these state funds, the SFMTA could issue local revenue bonds.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is expected to provide nearly $1 billion in funding to the Central Subway Project through its New Starts program, requested this additional assurance as part of its stringent review process. A delay in bond issuance on the state level could impact Central Subway Project financing, and the FTA requires assurance that a contingent funding plan is in place.

At both board meetings, local business leaders, community members and transit advocates testified in support of the project and the bond assurance measure, saying the Central Subway will create jobs, connect communities and improve public transportation for San Franciscans. Speaking in favor of the project were representatives of the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District, the Union Square Business Improvement District, the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR), Renew SF, the Chinatown Transportation Research and Improvement Project and several local unions, as well as prominent local leaders and members of the Central Subway Community Advisory Group.

Michael Yaki testifying

Former San Francsico supervisor Michael Yaki spoke in support of the bond assurance resolution before the Board of Supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors also passed four resolutions approving the acquisition of temporary construction licenses. The licenses will allow work related to the Central Subway tunnel to commence around Union Square. Work to prepare the project alignment for tunneling is on track to begin this summer in this area.

More information about today’s board actions is available in this press release from the SFMTA.

19 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Now out for bid: The Union Square/Market Street Station contract


UMS - Entrance 2

The Union Square/Market Street Station will connect residents and visitors to the heart of Union Square and downtown.

The contract to construct the Central Subway Union Square/Market Street Station has gone out for bid, marking the latest advance in this major improvement to San Francisco’s public transportation system.

The centrally located station will connect residents and visitors to San Francisco’s vibrant Union Square and downtown, home to the city’s highest concentration of jobs and an outstanding array of hotels, entertainment venues and restaurants.

The Central Subway and the Union Square/Market Street Station will significantly speed up travel through this busy area and improve connections to local and regional transit options – all while enhancing the aesthetic of this world-renowned destination:

  • The station, a subway station, will have entrances in Union Square Plaza and at the corner of Market and Stockton streets.
  • The station will connect directly to the existing Powell Street Station via an underground concourse-to-concourse walkway, allowing for easy transfers to BART and the other Muni Metro lines.
  • The station’s main entrance, to be located at the corner of Stockton and Geary streets, will complement and enrich Union Square Plaza by blending into the existing landscape and emulating the aesthetic of the plaza. Two major art installations will adorn the interior of the station.

Bids on the estimated $210 million contract are due July 11. A pre-bid conference will be held May 16 at the Main Branch of the San Francisco Public Library.

More information about the Union Square/Market Street Station is available in our station fact sheet and in this press release from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

Parties interested in this contract should e-mail Bernie Ancheta (bernie.ancheta@SFMTA.com) or call 415-701-4278. Please visit SFGOV.org to access the advertised bid document.

16 April 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Check it out: The Central Subway Spring Newsletter

spring 2012 newsletter header

SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin, San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee and SFMTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan speaking at a press conference in March.

Hot off the presses: It’s the spring 2012 edition of the Central Subway newsletter. Download it in English or Chinese to learn about the latest project news and to gain insight into community benefits, construction progress and station design.

This edition of the quarterly project newsletter features:

  • A project update from SFMTA Director of Transportation Edward D. Reiskin
  • Insight into featured artist Tomie Arai’s artwork for the Chinatown Station
  • A Central Subway construction update
  • And more…

The Central Subway newsletter is also available via email. To have future newsletters delivered directly to your inbox, subscribe to our mailing list here.

13 April 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Construction Update: Continued progress on utility relocation, tunnel site preparation

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A worker inspects a reinforced steel structure at a work site on Stockton and Market streets.

Since our last three-week construction update, work to prepare the tunnel launch site for tunneling and to relocate utilities around Union Square has continued to progress.

In the next three weeks, the following work will be underway:

  • Union Square/Market Street Station Utility Relocation: Crews will continue to relocate utilities to prepare for construction of the Union Square/Market Street Station. We expect all utility relocations around Union Square to be completed by June 2012. Construction is scheduled seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although night work may be necessary.
  • Tunnel Launch Site Construction: Work is continuing on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets to prepare the site for tunnel construction. Crews are working to relocate utility lines and install guide walls at the site where tunneling will commence. Work hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The complete, current three-week construction schedule for Union Square utility relocations is available here (PDF). We also post construction, auto detour and Muni impact information on our project Google Map.

Muni Service Impacts:

While utility relocation work is in progress around Union Square, the following Muni routes may experience delays:

  • 8 Shuttle/8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express
  • 38/38L Geary

The 30 Stockton and 45 Union/Stockton lines have been rerouted around the Stockton Street and 4th Street construction sites, effective January 21.

Traffic Detours:

While Union Square utility relocation work is in progress, only Muni buses, taxis, tour buses and delivery trucks will be permitted on Stockton Street between Post and Market streets.

Two traffic detour options are in place to allow for better access to the Union Square area and to aid the flow of traffic:

trafficreroutemap

We appreciate your continued patience while construction is in progress.

12 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Construction Update: Guide Wall Construction on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant

road work sign

Traffic controls are in place to direct traffic safely around the construction site.

Starting Friday, April 13, crews will begin constructing guide walls on the east side of 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets. Guide wall construction will involve excavation of a trench on 4th Street. This will be followed by minor concrete work. The guide walls will prepare the Central Subway alignment for construction of slurry walls and a launch box at the site where the tunnel boring machines will begin tunneling.

Guide wall construction is expected to last for approximately three weeks. Approved work hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Access to 4th Street from Perry Street and Stillman Street may be briefly restricted, but advance notification will be provided to impacted residents and businesses should these closures be necessary. No detours are planned, and traffic controls will be in place. There may be an increase in truck traffic while this work is in progress.

Work to demolish and relocate utility lines remains in progress on this block and is expected to continue through May.

More information about construction of the Central Subway tunnel is available in this construction notice. To learn more about Central Subway construction, please visit our website or our project Google Map.

11 April 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Democratic Leader Pelosi, Mayor Lee, FTA Officials Tour Central Subway Alignment

Group photo in front of Muni bus

High-ranking local and federal officials toured the Central Subway alignment today.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, Mayor Edwin M. Lee and high-ranking officials from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) today toured the Central Subway project alignment and received an update on project progress.

Leader Pelosi, a longtime supporter of the Central Subway, and Mayor Lee were joined by FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff, FTA Associate Administrator Brian Farber and FTA Regional Administrator Leslie Rogers on a tour that included visits to future station sites and the Central Subway Project office. The tour also included a stop at North Beach’s Washington Square Park, where the subway tunnel will end and the tunnel boring machines will be removed from the ground after tunneling is complete.

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Leader Pelosi and Administrator Rogoff

Riding on a Muni bus, Central Subway Program Director John Funghi updated Leader Pelosi, Administrator Rogoff and other officials on Central Subway progress.

The project has continued to advance in recent months, with construction underway at several sites along the project alignment and the first station contract out for bid. The second station contract, for the Union Square/Market Street Station, is scheduled to be released for bid this month, and the remaining station contracts are on track for release by summer.

On the federal level, a formal agreement for nearly $1 billion in funding from the FTA’s New Starts program may be forthcoming this spring or summer.

Prominent local officials, including San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Board Chairman Tom Nolan, SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin and San Francisco Supervisor David Campos, who also serves as chairman of the board of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, accompanied Pelosi and the FTA representatives as they traveled the project alignment along Stockton Street and 4th Street.

03 April 2012 ~ 2 Comments

Proposed SFMTA budget includes significant portion of Central Subway funds

Chinatown_train
The Central Subway will extend Muni’s T Third Line from SoMa to Chinatown. It is scheduled to open to the public in 2019.

Last week the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) released its proposed two-year budget, outlining the Agency’s vision for improving and maintaining San Francisco’s rail and bus transit systems, bike network, walkways, streets, public parking facilities and more.

The Central Subway is a key component of this vision. The Agency’s two-year capital budget includes $447 million for the Central Subway – more than a quarter of the $1.6 billion allocated to extend Muni’s T Third Line through SoMa, downtown, Union Square and Chinatown.

Over the next two years, funds from the following previously committed federal, state and local sources will finance Central Subway construction:

These funds will allow construction to begin in the next year on major components of the project, including:

  • The subway tunnel. The tunnel boring machines have been ordered and are expected to arrive in San Francisco in early 2013. Tunneling will begin soon afterward. Currently, crews are relocating and demolishing utility lines at the site where the tunneling machines will enter the ground.
  • Three subway stations. Contracts for the three subway stations – Chinatown Station, Union Square/Market Street Station and Yerba Buena/Moscone Station – are on track to be awarded by the end of 2012. Construction is expected to commence soon afterward.
  • Light-rail tracks, operating systems and a surface-level station. The contract to build the new subway’s tracks and operating systems, as well as a surface-level station at 4th and Brannan streets, is planned to be advertised for bid in summer 2012.

The SFMTA Board of Directors will consider the proposed capital and operating budgets at their meeting this afternoon.

For more information on Central Subway funding, visit the Funding/Budget page on our project website.

30 March 2012 ~ 1 Comment

Construction Update: Utility Work on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant

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An excavator at the construction site on 4th Street.

Work to demolish and relocate utility lines has commenced along 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets. The purpose of this work is to prepare the Central Subway alignment for construction of a launch box at the site where the tunnel boring machines will begin tunneling.

Up to two lanes may be closed on 4th Street between Bryant and Harrison streets while this work is in progress. The I-80 East off-ramp and the I-80 West on-ramp will remain open, although some lanes may be closed. Starting April 2, the intersection of 4th and Harrison streets may be partially obstructed. No detours are planned, and traffic controls will be in place while this work is in progress.

The sidewalk on the west side of the street may be closed for a portion of  this work. During these times, pedestrians should use the sidewalk on the east side of the street.

After this utility work is complete, crews will begin installing slurry walls to prepare for construction of the tunnel launch box.

More information about construction of the Central Subway tunnel is available in this construction notice. To learn more about Central Subway construction, please visit our website or our project Google Map.

23 March 2012 ~ 0 Comments

Construction Update: Wrap, drilling complete; utility relocation continues

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Paving O’Farrell Street.

Since our last construction update, Central Subway contractors have continued to make progress, completing the following work:

  • Drilling operations around Union Square to collect information about the chemical conditions of soil and groundwater
  • Installation of a decorative wrap at 933 to 949 Stockton Street, the future site of the Chinatown Station
  • Installation of a high-pressure water line on Geary Street at Stockton Street
  • Demolition of sidewalk and basement floor on the west side of Stockton Street between O’Farrell and Market streets (see above photo)

Here are some photos of our crews at work around Union Square:

Joint trench installation - O'Farrell
Installing a joint trench on O’Farrell Street.

IMG_7069
Pouring cement at Geary and Stockton.

Backfill for temporary pavement - O'Farrell
Preparing to pave O’Farrell Street.

In the next three weeks, crews will continue to relocate utility lines around Union Square to prepare the area for construction of the Union Square/Market Street Station. We expect all utility relocations around Union Square to be completed by June 2012. Construction is scheduled seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., although night work may be necessary.

The complete, current three-week construction schedule for Union Square utility relocations is available here (PDF). We also post construction, auto detour and Muni impact information on our project Google Map.

Muni Service Impacts:

While utility relocation work is in progress around Union Square, the following Muni routes may experience delays:

  • 8 Shuttle/8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express
  • 38/38L Geary

The 30 Stockton and 45 Union/Stockton lines have been rerouted around the Stockton Street construction site, effective Jan. 21.

Traffic Detours:

While the utility relocation work is in progress, only Muni buses, taxis, tour buses and delivery trucks will be permitted on Stockton Street between Post and Market streets.

Two traffic detour options are in place to allow for better access to the Union Square area and to aid the flow of traffic:

trafficreroutemap

We appreciate your continued patience while construction is in progress.