Chase Center opened without a traffic or transit meltdown Friday night. Metallica thrashed, fans head-bashed, and most got home seemingly smoothly.
But Tuesday, traffic and transit may march to the beat of a different drum: This will be the first day a San Francisco Giants game takes place at the same time as a Chase Center event.
While bats crack at Oracle Park down the street, Dave Matthews Band will serenade fans at Chase Center arena. The common method of travel between both is the T-Third Muni train, making double-size train crowds a possibility.
Hoping to head this off at the pass, officials are asking, pleading, begging the public — don’t take the train to Chase Center.
Instead, head to the 16th Street BART station and take one of two special Muni shuttle buses, the 78X and 79X, which zip down to Chase Center arena in roughly ten minutes, city officials said.
The 79X also travels to destinations along Van Ness until it hits the water.
“I personally took it down there Friday night because I wanted to experience it,” Julie Kirschbaum, director of transit at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency told me. From 16th Street BART, “my trip was just under ten minutes to the event, and it took a little less than that on the way back.”
Kirschbaum was one of the few who used it. Only 800 people out of the Metallica concert’s estimated 16,000 attendees took the shuttle to and from BART — and those shuttles can handle far more passengers, Kirshcbaum said.
To put it mildly, those buses “were not” at capacity, she told the Examiner.
By contrast, roughly 3,500 took the T-Third trains Friday night, and roughly 6,000 took the T-Third train to and from Sunday night’s Metallica concert at Chase Center.
One of those train riders was state Sen. Scott Wiener. He must have been caught in slowed down train traffic after a San Francisco police officer on a motorcycle was involved in a traffic collision, which caused a Muni and traffic slowdown for a spell.
“It took a full 45 minutes” to get to Chase Center on the T-Third train, Wiener told a crowd of public transportation supporters on the steps of City Hall on Monday morning, at a transit rally. And, he added, “half of that was from Third and King to Chase Center.”
Kirschbaum admits that “I think the buses are newer for people than the trains,” and “we think (ridership) will grow as people realize what a great connection the buses are.”
Though Muni hopes riders hop on the shuttle bus, they’re not taking any chances. Kirschbaum said on “double” days — when the Giants play and there’s also an event at Chase Center — the agency will boost train service. And the “tremendous amount of work upfront by hundreds of staff members in our agency” made Friday night as smooth as it was, she said.
“I don’t think a lot of cities could pull off what we pulled off, as seamlessly as we did,” she said.
But it will all go more seamlessly Tuesday night if attendees take the bus.