'This is big': What it's like to ride SF Muni's new Central Subway; Unofficial opening this weekend

ByCornell Barnard via KGO logo
Sunday, November 20, 2022
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The first MUNI Metro trains are taking riders on their first-ever trips underneath San Francisco on the long-awaited Central Subway this weekend.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The first MUNI Metro trains are taking riders on their first-ever trips underneath San Francisco on the long-awaited Central Subway this weekend.

Following cost overruns and a four-year delay, the nearly two-mile extension of Muni's T-Third line is finally connecting the city's South of Market neighborhood with Chinatown.

MUNI passengers were boldly going where no transit riders have gone before in San Francisco on Saturday.

Justin Brickell brought his family.

VIDEO: Pelosi, Buttigieg tour SF Central Subway project; service on track to begin this Fall

"It's awesome, glad this finally got built," he said. "It was expensive but now that's it's created, it will help connect Chinatown to the rest of the city."

"This is amazing. I had no idea how beautiful it would be and we just spent an amazing morning in Chinatown," said Carol Chan.

The New Central Subway runs north to south across the city, with three new underground stations linking SOMA to Union Square and Chinatown.

The station escalators alone are impressive, some diving 100 feet below street level.

VIDEO: Here's a sneak peek of SF's Central Subway in Chinatown

"I haven't taken the stairs yet, and I may not for a while. It's all good," said Joost Kemink.

Taoist monks had a blessing ceremony at the Chinatown station, named after community advocate Rose Pak.

"This is big," said Donald Luu.

Chinese Chamber of Commerce President Donald Luu says the new subway line has been a long time coming.

MORE: San Francisco's Central Subway Project delayed due to pandemic complications

"The opening of the Central Subway couldn't come at a better time. Chinatown is recovering from the pandemic, anti-Asian hate and a slowdown of business in general," Luu said.

SFMTA Director Jeff Tumlin acknowledges the $1.95 billion subway project was over budget and four years late.

"We hit a river we weren't expecting, we hit archeological sites which had some extraordinary finds. This is the fulfillment of a promise. It moves Chinatown 20 minutes closer to BART, the East Bay, Caltrain and Peninsula," Tumlin said.

Rides will be free on weekends through December. The Central Subway's grand opening is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2023.

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