San Francisco’s downtown-centric subway system leaves many of the city’s residents without access, and Supervisor Scott Wiener wants that to change. This week, he proposed legislation that would establish a long-term transit plan and ensure that the city always has a subway tunnel in the works.
“You never know when funding will become available or when Democrats will take back Congress or there’ll be another stimulus,” Wiener told the San Francisco Business Times. “We need to get it designed, need to get it environmentally cleared and get it in the can so that when funding becomes available, we can get it done.”
According to San Francisco radio station KQED:
The legislation would create a Subway Master Plan that could include extending subway service to the western parts of San Francisco, currently served by above-ground light rail and bus lines.
“I have concerns that when the Central Subway is done to Chinatown, that it’s just going to stop, ” Wiener, who’s running for a seat in the state Senate, said in an interview. “We have to keep the momentum going.”
In a recent post on Medium title “San Francisco Should Always Have a Subway Under Construction,” Wiener noted that San Francisco’s current public transit options aren’t sufficient for its growing population. “San Francisco is experiencing unprecedented growth,” Wiener wrote. “We see the results of this growth on our streets every day, with more and more auto congestion and a harder time for our extensive bus network navigating the streets and meeting schedules. Indeed, Muni buses travel at the slowest average speed of any urban bus system in the country, at just over eight miles per hour on average.”
According to the Business Times, Wiener’s bill will be heard by the Board of Supervisors’ land use committee later this fall. It would require buy-in from MTA, the planning department, mayor’s office, BART and Caltrain, but critics say that money is not the only deterrent.
“Robust and continual subway construction will provoke resistance from many groups,” Jason McDaniel, an assistant professor of political science at San Francisco State, told KQED. McDaniel’s views aren’t solely negative. In an email to KQED, he said that Wiener’s vision “captures the desires of transit advocates and interested citizens for robust public investment in a world-class transit system that can potentially shape the future of the city.”
Jenn Stanley is a freelance journalist, essayist and independent producer living in Chicago. She has an M.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.