FAQs

  1. What is the Central Subway?
  2. Where will the new stations be located?
  3. When will the Central Subway open?
  4. What are construction impacts in my neighborhood?
  5. How does the Central Subway connect to the City’s other modes of transportation and regional services?
  6. What are the costs and budget for the Central Subway Project?
  7. What is the estimated projected ridership?
  8. Will the Central Subway be capable of accommodating the population growth expected in southeastern San Francisco?
  9. What are the projected operating costs for the Central Subway, and how will they impact Muni’s overall transit service?

1.  What is the Central Subway?

The Central Subway Project will construct a 1.7-mile light-rail line that will extend Muni’s T Third Line from SoMa to Chinatown. This new rail service will provide a direct, rapid transit link between the Sunnydale, Visitacion Valley, Bayshore and Mission Bay areas in southeastern San Francisco to SoMa, downtown and Chinatown.

The Central Subway is Phase 2 of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) Third Street Light Rail Transit Project. It will connect directly to existing Muni Metro lines and BART, decreasing travel times and improving transit options to help customers reach jobs, educational opportunities, retail locations and sporting and cultural venues along this densely populated corridor.

2.  Where will the new stations be located?

There will be four new stations along the Central Subway alignment: 

  • 4th and Brannan Station at 4th and Brannan streets (surface level)
  • Yerba Buena/Moscone Station at 4th and Folsom streets (subway)
  • Union Square/Market Street Station on Stockton Street at Union Square (subway)
  • Chinatown Station at Stockton and Washington streets (subway)

After stopping at the surface-level station at 4th and Brannan streets, the T Third Line will enter a subway tunnel beneath the I-80 overpass and continue underground to the Yerba Buena/Moscone, Union Square/Market Street and Chinatown stations.

The Union Square/Market Street Station will connect directly to the Powell Street BART/Muni Station and provide customers a direct link to BART, Muni Metro, cable car lines and bus routes.

Click on the links for more information about the stations and the Central Subway alignment or to view renderings of the future stations.

3.  When will the Central Subway open?

The Central Subway is expected to open to the public in 2019.

4.  What are construction impacts in my neighborhood?

Construction impacts in SoMa, Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach will vary throughout the course of the project as the Central Subway stations, tunnel, tracks and operating systems are built. To receive the most current information about construction impacts in your neighborhood, you may subscribe to our weekly construction update emails. Please visit our Construction Updates page to subscribe. To view construction notices and past weekly construction update emails, please visit our Document Library.

5.  How does the Central Subway connect to the City’s other modes of transportation and regional services?

  • Caltrain: The T Third Line already provides a direct connection to regional commuter rail service (Caltrain) at 4th and King streets. The Central Subway will improve access to Caltrain by providing a faster, more direct link between Chinatown, downtown, SoMa and Caltrain. The Central Subway transfer will be shorter and more seamless than current transit options allow.
  • BART and Muni Metro: The Union Square/Market Street Station will include a direct concourse-to-concourse connection to the Powell Street Muni/BART Station. The station design provides a relatively short concourse that will give customers easy underground access to Powell Street Station.
     
  • Muni Bus and Electric Trolley Routes: The Central Subway will improve connections to Muni bus and electric trolley routes, including the 8X/8AX/8BX Bayshore Express, the 14/14L/14X Mission and the 38/38L Geary lines, as well as the cable car lines at Powell and Market Street.

6.  What are the costs and budget for the Central Subway Project?

The Central Subway Project has an approved project cost of $1.578 billion. The project budget includes approved and committed funds from local, state and federal sources. The project’s funding plans have been reviewed and approved by voters and elected officials.

More information about project funding can be found on our funding page.

7.  What is the estimated projected ridership?

  • When the Central Subway opens in 2019, the projected ridership along the entire T Third Line is estimated to be 43,700 daily boardings. 
  • By 2030, ridership on the T Third Line is projected to reach 65,000 customers per day along the entire alignment. This is about 20 percent higher than projected 2030 ridership for the most heavily used existing Muni line, the N Judah Line. Once the Central Subway Project is complete, the T Third Line will be similar in length to the N Judah Line.
  • For just the Central Subway portion of the T Third Line, ridership in 2030 is projected at 35,100 daily boardings.
  • These figures were developed by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) and included in the annual New Starts submittal required by the FTA. 
  • The Central Subway is expected to attract extremely high usage compared to other light rail projects around the country. Only the Downtown Subway in Los Angeles is projected to have more daily boardings per mile in 2030.

 

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...

Figure 2: FY 2030 Daily Boardings per Mile for
Light Rail Projects around the Country

8. Will the Central Subway be capable of accommodating the population growth expected in southeastern San Francisco?

Yes. The T Third Line was designed with population growth in mind and will be able to accommodate new ridership without overcrowding as the Visitacion Valley, Bayview/Hunters Point and Mission Bay areas continue to develop. 

With the influx of 10,000 new housing units planned for the old Naval Shipyard at Hunters Point and the Schlage Lock redevelopment site, and the dramatic growth in businesses and residential units in Mission Bay, an estimated 24,000 additional people will depend on the T Third Line to connect to Caltrain, AT&T Park, Yerba Buena/Moscone Convention Center, Market Street, Union Square and Chinatown. 

Currently 68 percent of residents along the Central Subway alignment do not own vehicles and rely heavily on public transportation.

9.  What are the projected operating costs for the Central Subway, and how will they impact Muni’s overall transit service?

The Central Subway, with its 35,000 projected daily boardings, will increase the SFMTA’s $760 million 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 Central Subway Project has collaborated with the SF Planning Department and the SFCTA to understand and prepare for growth associated with development projects in Mission Bay and the southeast quadrant of the City. This collaboration has resulted in a better understanding of the future travel plans of customers along the alignment and improved operating-cost projections.

See the complete list of FAQs (PDF).

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