Sep 9, 2022 - Politics

Buttigieg, Pelosi visit San Francisco's Central Subway

Nancy Pelosi, Pete Buttigieg and London Breed standing in front of U.S. and California state flag
From L to R: Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the Chinese Community Development Council, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, SF Mayor London Breed and SF Building and Construction Trades Council Secretary-Treasurer Rudy Gonzalez. Photo: Megan Rose Dickey/Axios

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited San Francisco's Chinatown Rose Pak Station Thursday to see the progress on the Central Subway project.

  • Buttigieg and Pelosi joined San Francisco Mayor London Breed, and community leaders, for a test ride on the Central Subway.

Why it matters: The project, which will link Chinatown to downtown and SoMa, has received almost $1 billion in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

What they're saying: "The Central Subway was and is a demand for transit justice," Malcolm Yeung, executive director of the Chinese Community Development Council, said at a press event. "Chinatown needs this lifeline."

Details: The subway line will start at the Chinatown Rose Pak station, named after the late political activist who fought to bring transit to Chinatown.

  • When completed, it will travel underground through downtown and SoMa before emerging on 4th and Brannan streets.
  • Riders will be able to connect to the T Third Street line at the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station.

Buttigieg said the Central Subway will pay dividends for generations to come.

  • "When most people can get around with public transit, that makes everyone better off," he said. "It means faster commutes, cleaner air. Even for the people who don't use transit, there's less congestion, which means that it truly is a win, win, win."

Context: Construction on the Central Subway started in 2013 and was originally set to be completed by 2018.

  • The project, however, has suffered delays for a variety of reasons, including contract disputes and a fire at the Yerba Buena/Moscone Station in June.
  • Before the fire, the SFMTA said in December 2021 service would begin in October.

Breed acknowledged the delays, emphasizing that the city is very dense and has infrastructure "that hasn't been looked at or open for decades."

  • She said she'd rather a project be delayed than to "rush through to try and meet a deadline."

What's next: The subway is expected to open later this fall, Breed said at the event.

  • Beyond the Central Subway project, San Francisco's next big transit project is to connect Caltrain and high-speed rail to the Salesforce Transit Center, Breed said.
  • Down the road, Breed envisions a subway connection to Fisherman's Wharf.
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