One Day Left for 2nd Transbay Poll

There's only one day left, really 1 1/2 days left for the 2nd Transbay Tube poll on deciding where it should go for BART (or standard gauge BART) in San Francisco's SoMa District. Comments, feedback and responses to the poll have been great. Already, 80 votes have come in. Hitting a symbolic 100 votes would be nice.

Polls close at midnight on July 1 (i.e. end of Sunday). So vote now for the alignment you think best serves San Francisco's future.

Your poll options are:

  • Mission Powell
  • Folsom Powell
  • Townsend/King 9th 
  • 16th St - 7th St
The route of the Townsend/King option has been improved a bit so that it allows for transfers with Civic Center Station. The line turns up 9th Street to Geary instead of down Division and up South Van Ness. A Division St/Showplace Square station is still possible. Maps of each line on its own follow.

I've also added in where possible stations would go, but by no means are these meant to be precise locations. Just ideas.

I've taken out the 3rd Street - Union Square line since it's not available in the electronic poll and it didnt' serve the goals of where to build an alignment. Those goals being:

  • Bring BART (regional rail) to underserved areas that have high transit demand, especially employment demand
  • Interconnect with other regional and local rail and bus systems (existing BART, Caltrain, Muni Metro, and the Muni bus system, etc.)
  • Take BART to areas where high job growth is possible, especially areas where dense employment centers will or could exist
  • Help alleviate the demand on the existing BART Market Street route, especially at Embarcadero and Montgomery St stations.
  • Create sufficient line redundancy so that in the event of one line going out (e.g. accident, maintenance, earthquake), the other line would function to cover for both lines.
Image: AP/Jeff Chiu

So the poll closes just about when BART will likely go on strike. Is this a dark omen or a call for the real need for better transportation in our region?


  1. It's shameful what the strikers are doing to people and the region. No excuse for their actions and their absurd demands. It's a regressive strike and I do not support it.

  2. Has to be Mission/Powell or Folsom/Powell. Everything else is too far from the Financial District and Union Square, which are the primary destinations for people travelling in from the East Bay and the Richmond District. Just think about how much less useful the 38 would be if it were replaced by the King/9th or 16th/7th alignments. Also remember we will probably want to send 2 of the four existing BART lines through the new tube, so a new alignment that avoids the Financial District and Union Square will inconvenience existing East Bay riders by forcing them to transfer back to the old line to get to their destination. A change for the worst for existing riders will be a hard sell.

    Out of those two options, Mission/Powell has better Financial District access and a better connection to Transbay. Folsom/Powell would be better for redevelopment in Rincon Hill/South Beach/South Park (which is logically where the Financial District will expand to) and could enable run-through service from Transbay. As planned, Transbay has no way to connect to the East Bay, but if the two shorter platforms were put on the south edge rather than the north edge of the station (as in the original plans) you could add tail tracks to the four longer platforms that head south on Main then east on Folsom to the new tube. You can't get from Transbay to Mission St because of skyscraper foundations.

  3. Jon,

    You raise some good points. I would counter-argue (not to disagree but vet all options) that although most Bay Area folks are accustomed to single-seat rides to Downtown SF, that building a line the reaches new different places, but requires one transfer is not too much to ask. Many folks in NYC, London, Tokyo, Madrid, and Paris must make at least transfers.

    So imagine a 16th/7th alignment, that would mean someone from Arguello Geary>Montgomery would transfer at Civic Center. Likewise, someone from Downtown Berkeley would have to transfer at Civic Center or MacArthur to get to Mission Bay (assuming MacArthur has a line following 2nd tube). If our region is to mature, and have more efficient high capacity transit we also have to accept at least one transfer on our way to work.

    That all said, if the REAL growth potential and HIGH DENSITY employment is destined for FiDi south and parts of SoMa, esp. Central and East SoMa, then a Folsom or Howard Line would be much better than an excursion to the moderately dense employment center of Mission Bay. 4-7 story buildings can only get so dense. In contrast an area with 20-30 story towers mixed with 7 story buildings can get MUCH DENSER and take higher priority for a regional rail line.

  4. Sure, but... let's assume that the red and green lines are routed through this new tube. It's fairly arbitrary which two we pick, but logically it will be one of the two lines heading to the north of the East Bay (red + yellow), plus one of the two lines heading to the south of the East Bay (green + blue).

    Also recall that Embarcadero has the highest ridership in the system, followed by Montgomery, then Powell, then Civic Center. When it comes to commuting, SF's center of gravity is the Financial District.

    Now let's take a high ridership station pair on one of these re-routed lines, such as Downtown Berkeley - Embarcadero. Riders making this journey would now head to 12th St Oakland as usual, then continue south on the new line to Jack London Square, stop at one or two stations on Alameda, then through the new tube to SF. With the King/9th or 16th/7th alignments she would then stop at two more stations before getting to Civic Center. Then, a change of trains to the old line, and three stops back the other direction to Embarcadero.

    So you've added 6 or 7 stops to this rider's journey, one of which requires a transfer of trains and a walk to a new platform, and (very roughly) an extra 6 miles traveled. You're easily looking at an extra 20 minutes of journey time.

    With the Mission or Folsom alignments, the rider would just get off at First St station instead. If they worked north of Market they would need to walk an extra 5-10 minutes to their destination. If they worked south of Market their journey might actually be quicker than before. Even if they had to walk a little further, most people are happier with that than connecting to transit at the destination end of their trip, because walking is reliable- on your own two feet, 10 minutes is 10 minutes, not 5-15 minutes depending on when the train shows up.

    So yeah... it just seems crazy to me that you would build a new subway line and deliberately avoid the city center, as the King/9th or 16th/7th alignments seem to do.


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