Planners map future of San Francisco subways

A subway underneath Geary Boulevard? How about a subway below 19th Avenue?

Those were just some of most popular responses that San Francisco residents and transit riders submitted to transportation officials in August and September that asked to share their dream subway or where they would like the existing Muni subway extended.

Transit officials received more than 2,600 responses that included everything from a single subway line or station to an entire subway system.

Users used an online interactive map to draw their vision of a subway for The City. It’s all part of a program called Connect SF, a multi-agency effort, that includes The City to have a subway master plan to begin planning for future subways.

Michael Schwartz, a principal planner for the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, showed two concepts at Monday’s Board of Supervisors Land Use and Transportation Committee.

The concepts are hardly complete, but were generated from the online responses as well as three pop-up booths in the Tenderloin, Excelsior and Bayview neighborhoods.

The first concept included a Central Subway extension along Lombard Street, a Geary corridor that moves across Golden Gate Park and the N-Judah line not going into the Market Street subway, but into the South of Market area.

In the second concept, the T-Third line would be extended closer to the Fisherman’s Wharf area, a north and south corridor closer to Divisadero and Fillmore streets and heading down to Hunter’s Point Shipyard and the N-Judah heading toward Mission Bay instead of the South of Market area.

Schwartz said planners also looked at a projection of population density in The City by 2040 and future ridership in areas that have a high travel demand where people might not choose public transit as their preferred choice of travel, but where people may convert to public transit if a subway network was available.

Planners evaluated different corridors and sections of The City including 19th Avenue, Judah Street, Geary Boulevard, the Marina neighborhood and central and eastern portions of the City.

Schwartz said the corridors evaluated fell under one of the following three categories: a cross-town connection where transit riders travel from one part of the city to another part, connectors where riders are trying to get the core transit network, and demand-based, where there are travel patterns of people using different types of modes of transportation.

Supervisor Scott Wiener authored legislation last year, approved by the Board of Supervisors, to have a subway master plan for The City to prepare for future population growth.

He said after the Market Street Subway opened in the 1970s, The City had not built any subways since then until recently with the Central Subway:

“My concern is that once the Central Subway opens, we might do the same thing again in the late 70s, just stop, pat ourselves in the back, congratulate ourselves and stop for another 40 years.”

SFMTA”s Planning Director Sarah Jones said the Connect SF program will help guide the transit agency to where it should pursue subways in The City:

“Connect SF will help us sort out what we’ve learned from this process and make the decisions on what kind of systems to pursue and where.”

Building or extending The City’s subway system will take planning, funding, time and commitments from city officials.

Peter Straus, a member of the San Francisco Transit Riders, said

“It’s something we really need to be intensively committed to for the next several years in getting this going and forever in terms of the projects that it launches.”

Straus agreed with Jones that The City needs to start prioritizing the possible future subway projects and so that transit officials can work on a revenue strategy.

Jones said the final subway master plan will be ready sometime by the end of the year.

The SFMTA’s Board of Directors will also get an update on The City’s subway master plan at its regular Tuesday meeting.