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After Years of Delays & Well Over Budget, The Central Subway Opens

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Inside Chinatown’s station: Chinatown Rose Pak Station – photo from SFGate

Just two and a half weeks away, the grand opening of a long-awaited project. The Central Subway will finally (tho not completely) be opened. An extension of the T Third Line route on 3rd Street, the Central Subway will extend through SOMA, the FiDi and Chinatown. Last week, the city showcased some parts of the project. Chinatown had a celebration at their location and the images of the station are stunning.

This transit project hasn’t been without controversy. The 1.7 mile stretch of underground tunnels has been underway since 2009. Although voters approved a 1.26 Billion dollar budget for the project in 2003, the project ended up going 300 million over budget according to an article within SFist citing budget issues and a delay-after-delay of over 4 years.

Panoramic view of the subway being built from the SFMTA website talking about the project

The Central Subway project dates back well over a decade, with voters approving the project back in 2003, and construction began in 2010. The original completion was estimated to be in late 2018, but the delay announcements started rolling in back in 2017,” states a recent SFist article.

We spoke about this next controversy surrounding The Central Subway way back in 2019. There was a dispute over the Chinatown station naming which was eventually named after Rose Pak, much to the dismay of some within the community who wanted a more general name of “Chinatown Station”. Rose Pak pushed hard to get the city to bring the subway to Chinatown.

Portrait of Rose Pak – photo from San Francisco Magazine

Despite often standing up for the best interests of her neighborhood, she earned a few enemies and even sparked a protest. According to her bio on Wiki she allegedly had some ties to the Chinese Communist Party. She was also investigated by the FBI for years. According to one article, The federal agency called the suspicions “unverifiable”. However, now a few years after her death, her activism and positive influence in the community often rallied others together in Chinatown.

Chinatown Rose Pak Station – photo from SFGate

Complete opening details from the Central Subway website

Free rides will kick off what’s being called a “soft opening” on Nov. 19 and will run through December. The full launch will likely happen in January.

On Nov. 19, weekend-only service will begin between Rose Pak Chinatown and 4th/Brannan stations. Trains will stop along the way at Yerba Buena and Union Square, where passengers can make transfers to BART and our Market Street subway

In January, we will transition to a seven-day-a-week service, connecting directly to the T Third Line, giving riders a direct connection between Chinatown and Visitacion Valley, and between the Bayview and Union Square”

Tweet from Muni announcing the opening


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Katy Atchison

Katy Atchison

Katy is a professional smiling machine raised in The Bay Area since the age of 3. While other kids were attending summer camp & soccer practice, she was raised selling wares at craft shows with her working artist parents and spent vacations in a small 1920s Montana log cabin. This has all given her a unique perspective on the ever-changing texture of San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Currently a blend of all that is The Bay Area - she's a web designer at a tech-company, artist and DIY teacher.