Salesforce Transit Center quietly reopens after nearly 10-month closure

The empty gondola descends from Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center back to street level as it debuts during the transit center’s reopening to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
The gondola debuts at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Riders smile as they depart the gondola to Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it debuts during the transit center’s reopening to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
The empty gondola descends from Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center back to street level as it debuts during the transit center’s reopening to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People take pictures and video as they ride the gondola to Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center back to street level as it debuts during the transit center’s reopening to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jody Stillwater and his daughter, Mena, 11, check out leaves of a large plant at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People walk around Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit and eat lunch at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit while others walk around during their lunch break at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit and chat during their lunch break at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit on benches during their lunch break at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
A band performs as people sit and eat lunch at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People look up at the trees and surrounding buildings while walking around Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit under the shade of a tree at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit and chat while others walk around at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People look at some of the plants at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People sit and chat on benches at Salesforce Park atop the Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People ride the escalators inside the Grand Hall lobby of Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
People look up inside the Grand Hall lobby of Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Workers are seen performing repair work inside the shuttered bus deck at Salesforce Transit Center as it reopens to the public after a nine-month closure on Monday, July 1, 2019. Bus service is expected to resume later this summer. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The Salesforce Transit Center’s reopening Monday after a nearly ten-month long closure caused by the discovery of two cracked beams in late September was a more subdued affair than last August’s packed grand opening.

But while commuters will have to wait until later this summer for the return of bus service, hundreds still turned out Monday to enjoy the $2.2 billion center’s 5-acre rooftop park and long-awaited gondola.

Robert Burgerz, 56, a resident of the Noe Valley district, was among the first to line up to ride the gondola on its first official day of operations, but found it was still not operational at 10 a.m. — an experience he described as almost as disappointing as when the center closed abruptly 10 months ago.

While it was working by Monday afternoon, other would-be riders discovered the gondola only takes people from the streets of San Francisco to the fourth deck park on top of the center and does not take them back down. Transit center officials said that’s by design.

Many of those visiting the center expressed wonder at the park, with reactions ranging from “very nice” to “fabulous” and “beautiful.” Music played and beer and wine were sold from a kiosk.

But those hoping to see the park’s water feature were disappointed. The dancing fountains along the walkway did not fire into the sky Monday because they are triggered by sensors that detect the movement of AC Transit buses below as they roll into the third-floor bus deck from the East Bay.

While Muni bus service is expected to resume on July 13th, AC Transit has yet to announce when its buses will return, though they are expected this summer.

When asked about the delay in bus service, park-goers seemed resigned, with some saying troubles were expected with such a costly project.

“We know these things take a long time to figure out,” said Oakland resident Nunu Pheng and South San Francisco resident Regina Soo, both of whom said they worked for government agencies.

Pheng said she actually enjoys the temporary bus terminal as it is closer to her office than the Salesforce Transit Center.

“I would rather be in the park than on the bus anyway,” said a more philosophical Burgerz. “If you have to wait, you have to wait.”

“I’m hopeful that the worst days are gone,” said Noe Valley resident Allen Brandstein.

In the meantime, one local forestry enthusiast has found something for visitors to do while at the Salesforce Transit Center. On his website, former Rec and Park commissioner Mike Sullivan has created a detailed self-guided walking tour of the trees available to view in the rooftop park.

The park features several different types of palms, cypress, sumacs, and pines from Australia, Asia and Africa. For instance, the Chilean wine palm, native to Chile, is the second most massive type of palm in the world, said Sullivan.

“It’s impressive to have such a large one here in the park,” Sullivan wrote in his tour.

For now, looking at trees may be one of the main things San Franciscans can do while visiting the transit center. At least, until the buses arrive.

-By Theophile Larcher, Special to the S.F. Examiner

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