The last subway

Yesterday was the grand opening of San Francisco’s new Muni line, the Central Subway, connecting Chinatown and SOMA, ending a few blocks from the Giants stadium.

Along with many other locals, I went down to give it a test run. The new stations are deep, spacious, clean (for now), and built with a keen eye for design – the mural at Chinatown (main image) is particularly nice.

I used to joke that this is the subway I’d never see. Having started in 2010, before I got to the city, and which seemed like it’d only finish after I’d left. It was supposed to open in December 2018, which was pushed to December 2019, then to February 2020, then to mid-2021, then to late 2021, and finally to 2022. And although the city is claiming to have hit the 2022 target, it’s on technicality at best. It’s running only as a pilot through the end of the year – available only for weekend service, and not connecting to other lines.

The good news is that it’s a useful route, and had it finished closer to target, I might’ve been a daily rider over to Stripe’s old Townsend office. The bad news is that despite ambitious plans for future extensions that’d take it all the way to the Presidio, between major time and budget overruns on it and the Van Ness rapid lane (3 years behind schedule) and a struggling budget, this might be San Francisco’s last major infrastructure project for a long time.

Published November 21, 2022.

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