San Francisco’s newest — and still under construction — subway may soon see an extension from Chinatown to Fisherman’s Wharf.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency recently allocated $1.2 million in its budget to study extending the T-Third Central Subway from its terminus in North Beach all the way to Fisherman’s Wharf.
Some are calling the study a major first step by the SFMTA that shows a clear sign of moving toward a new subway than ever before.
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority previously conducted a feasibility study with the SFMTA, said SFMTA Director of Transportation Ed Reiskin.
“[The new study] would go a level deeper,” he told the San Francisco Examiner. “This would do more community work and more technical work, to tee it up into preliminary engineering into environmental impact and analysis.”
Reiskin affirmed his support of the project while clarifying that nothing is set in stone.
“It doesn’t guarantee we get a subway built,” he said. “I sure hope they will see this project come to fruition. If you look at the very long term in The City, it makes all the sense of the world.”
The study is one of many items in the SFMTA’s newly proposed multibillion dollar budget for fiscal year 2017-18, which will be debated at town hall meetings throughout March. The SFMTA Board of Directors is set to vote on the budget in April.
Though it’s just a proposal, the study has transit supporters buzzing.
Supervisor Scott Wiener is an outspoken supporter of subway construction in San Francisco and he predictably lauded the study.
“Extending the Central Subway north is a very high priority, and essential to our future subway expansion efforts,” he told the Examiner. “I’m happy to see the [SFMTA] concretely moving forward.”
This, Wiener said, “is a big deal.”
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, whose supervisorial district includes Fisherman’s Wharf and Chinatown, said he, too, is supportive of the subway.
Peskin said he looks forward to a “robust and comprehensive community process” for the project.
The Fisherman’s Wharf community has been vocal in the past about its needs for new transit options.
Troy Campbell, head of the Fisherman’s Wharf Community Benefits District, told the Examiner last year that when it comes to businesses at the wharf, there’s been an “exodus of minimum-wage workers in The City.”
Workers need transit options, Campbell said, and the lack of crosstown transit options to Fisherman’s Wharf makes attracting workers like cooks, bussers and shop workers increasingly difficult.
Rachel Brown, a spokeswoman for the district, told the Examiner the problem still persists, which is why the group supports the Central Subway’s extension to Fisherman’s Wharf.
“We’d still need half a billion to one billion and a half dollars we don’t have,” Reiskin said, noting that conducting a study “doesn’t solve that problem.”
Reiskin said the Central Subway extension would require significant federal funding, but that regional transit officials did not place the project near the front of the line for federal funding.
“There’s not a foreseeable federal funding source I’m aware of,” he said, “but that could change in the next federal bill.”
Still, the transit director has not lost all hope. He said performing a study and creating San Francisco’s Subway Master Plan may eventually attract more federal dollars.
“Just because you have a plan, the federal government won’t throw money at you,” Reiskin said. “But you’re in a better place to state your case.”