Courtesy of BART Visions UpdateMayor Ed Lee has called for regional discussions to begin on plans for a second BART transbay tube from Mission Bay to the East Bay.

Courtesy of BART Visions UpdateMayor Ed Lee has called for regional discussions to begin on plans for a second BART transbay tube from Mission Bay to the East Bay.

Mayor Ed Lee announces support for a second BART transbay tube

Following his State of the City speech Thursday, Mayor Ed Lee also announced a plan to back the construction of a second BART transbay tube.

The announcement came as part of Lee's “Shared Prosperity: Affordability Directives” document, which outlines ways to tackle one of San Francisco's most pernicious problems: affordability.

“We will begin a regional conversation with my fellow Mayors in the East Bay, Supervisor Scott Wiener, and the BART Board about a second BART tube from Mission Bay to the East Bay,” the mayor wrote in his plan.

BART currently only has one transbay tube connecting San Francisco and the East Bay. Some transit experts say the single pathway hampers the system in two ways: Scheduled nightly maintenance makes late-night trains impossible, as the tracks need to be de-electrified, and when one train is stopped on the tracks it can delay the whole system.

Delays due to a lack of a second tube were felt prominently by BART riders a few times recently, including the Black Friday protests in November which impacted some stations for hours, and systemwide delays after a man reportedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a Powell Station BART train this week.

Current plans for a second transbay tube include possible extensions of BART stations into the Richmond district on the west side of San Francisco, as well as stations down 19th Avenue. Those early plans, still in preliminary stages, were shown to the San Francisco Country Transportation Authority in December.

Though a potential new tube may be “30 to 50 years off,” Ellen Smith, BART's acting manager for strategic and policy planning, told The Examiner previously that Wiener thinks it's well past time all cities in the region push for increased public transit.

“It's huge for Mayor Lee to come out in strong support of moving forward with a second tube,” Wiener told The Examiner. “A second tube isn't optional. We need to have it for our regional economy to continue to grow.”

High-speed rail will also depend on a robust BART system, Wiener said.

Christine Falvey, the mayor's spokesperson, elaborated on the mayor's comments.

“The mayor wants to begin a dialogue on this and that would include issues of funding (a second transbay tube),” she wrote to The Examiner. The Bay Area's population will grow dramatically over the next decade, she noted, and the mayor wants to make sure the transit needs of that population is met.

“It's a large and expensive capital project and will require signifcant planning to identify funding,” Wiener added.

“Working together as a region,” he said, “we can make it happen.”

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