BART two!

I don't know how seriously the recommendations by this group are taken, but the SF Planning & Urban Research Association says:

SPUR recommends that we plan and build a new subway line through the South of Market area. It is probable that such a new subway line could be implemented incrementally, starting with the turnback, and would eventually link up with a second Transbay Tube to the East Bay. The new tube should accommodate four tracks in order to include BART and commuter rail.

SPUR believes that either Folsom or Townsend streets would be appropriate for the new alignment, although there are serious pros and cons of each. The new regional subway line should run under at least one of these two corridors.

I think "hell yeah" is the only appropriate response here. Especially since BART's consistent but not-entirely-believable excuse for why there is no late-night service is, "we only have one track, so we have to shut down the whole system to fix anything anywhere."

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49 Responses:

  1. gordonzola says:

    very seriously.

    Historically they are the group that proposed the removal of all the victorians (and most Black people) from Fillmore St. They also are the group that pushed for years to close down all the SROs in SoMa. These days they are a little more sensitive to not destroying neighborhoods and have some good ideas and some horrible ones, but they are probably the most influential private think tank for redevelopment in SF

    • latemodel says:

      Interesting, I didn't know that part of their history.

    • mooflyfoof says:

      Huh, I didn't know that about SPUR. The previous tenant in our apartment got SPUR's publication and never changed his address with them, so I got to read a few of them. They were pretty fascinating.

      I love the idea of an all-night BART. That would kick so much ass. What would also be incredibly nice would be if they'd extend it into other parts of the city. It really sucks that if you have to commute via BART (i.e. to the East Bay), the only places you can live really are SOMA, the Mission, and Glen Park. SOMA doesn't have a real "neighborhood" feel to it and I wouldn't want to live there. Glen Park is way out there and you may as well live in the East Bay if you live there. The Mission is pretty cool but it's only one neighborhood out of many.

      It'd be great if there was even one line that ran out to the ocean parallel to the park. Maybe like along Geary or something. (And I suppose it'd be good if there were one in the Sunset too.) It would make things so much faster for everyone who lives there. Even intra-city commuting would improve for those who live in the Richmond and work downtown-- apparently that commute takes an hour by bus! I live in the Western Addition and work in Berkeley, so I have to take the 5 to BART in order to get to work. I just don't do it and choose to drive every day instead because it takes so long. And it's not like there's no demand for such a thing. Those 5 buses are CROWDED at rush hour (and I'm sure the 21 and 31 are too).

      That said, I have no idea if building a BART tunnel like that under existing housing, streets, etc. is even possible.

      • This.

        SOMA at least freakin' has accessibility by BART right now.

        And can I say: I live out by the last BART stop in the city--one blink before it all turns into Daly City--and I bet my transit time to downtown is *half* of what it is when I lived in the Richmond, or what it is for Sunset-dwellers.

        (And I'd rather crawl to work than take the 5 again.)

      • enf says:

        The plan that SPUR is endorsing, or at least one variant of it, does run out Geary -- but by way of Townsend to Van Ness to Geary. It seems like a ridiculously roundabout route, but this is from the people who gave us Millbrae, so you have to expect that.

        • mooflyfoof says:

          Oh hell yeah. As long as they do timed transfers to the trains running to the East Bay, that would solve the problem beautifully! At least it would for me. :P

      • Even intra-city commuting would improve for those who live in the Richmond and work downtown-- apparently that commute takes an hour by bus!

        Yes it does. And it's not the "sit quietly and read a book" kind of commute either, unless you happen to live right by the start of the line and can grab a seat, or one of the more tolerable standing positions. And if you need to go much south of Market, you get to transfer and do it all again!

        • mooflyfoof says:

          I don't even understand what the folks who live between Fillmore and Van Ness do to get downtown if they can't bike. The 5s are always completely packed by the time they get there. Heck, my stop at Baker regularly gets passed up by sardine buses.

          • kimberley66 says:

            5 Fulton @ Baker is also my stop. . . . . .my sardine can is your sardine can. . . . seriously, I'm about to start walking to work (Post and Kearney here in SF).

            If there were a BART extension along Geary, I'd totally walk up there to catch it at Masonic.

  2. latemodel says:

    I can't say how seriously anyone else takes them, but I read their slate on the ballot initiatives every election.

    The one-track=no-late-night argument is at least partially credible. My mother works/worked for the T in Boston, and they say the same thing. It's not that they have to shut down the entire system to do work at one point; the contention is that the hours between 1 and 4 are the only time they can do track work. NYC bears out this premise, too: after-hours service on the main lines is limited to the express stations, where all four tracks have platforms. Major work on smaller or peripheral lines results in occasional full shutdowns at night, during which the service is replaced by busses.

    I take it you're too good for the 800 bus?

    • gargargar says:

      The people arguing for 24 hour BART seem to believe that BART is the only system in the world that isn't running 24 hours.

      I hate to break it to you folks, but the London Underground shuts down at about the same time as BART and it doesn't have anything nearly as difficult as the transbay tube to maintain.

      • latemodel says:

        Oh, I agree that most subways shut down around the same time: Boston, London, Paris, SF. SF's late-night bus service is even usable, which is more than I can say for some places. That doesn't keep me from wanting what NYC and Chicago have.

        Also, I think the Underground probably is pretty hard to maintain, given its age.

      • elusis says:

        Uh, bull. I have stayed and clubbed in London plenty, and did NOT have to leave at midnight in order to take the Tube.

        • lnghnds says:

          I'm pretty sure you did! Unless 'take the Tube' is a euphemism for something other than riding mass transit. Maybe some run their last departure at 1am, but they definitely don't run all night.

          • elusis says:

            I know they don't run all night, but they run later than BART (looking at the first/last train schedules suggests there's been some cutbacks, but I've definitely caught Tube trains after 1am). And there is a fairly comprehensive system of night buses during the time the Tube is shut down, unlike here where the East Bay is served by one bus, with one departure point and one arrival point, that runs... what, once an hour? (Now how long you wait for a bus after you get to your neighborhood Tube stop can be a bit of a gamble, but then, at least the Tube runs all over London instead of just downtown.)

            • 0ntological says:

              The 800 is actually a rather long route that runs right down Market and through much of Oakland. Not saying they shouldn't do better, but believe me, it's better than nothing. I lived in Oakland before the 800 existed. That was horrible!

      • dagbrown says:

        Every train system in Tokyo shuts down between 1am and 5am.

        Just pointin' out here.

    • dr_memory says:

      NYC bears out this premise, too: after-hours service on the main lines is limited to the express stations, where all four tracks have platforms.

      Er, that's kind of the opposite of what NYC does. On most of the main lines, late-night service runs local-only, instead of having local and express trains run simultaneously. The local trains occasionally get routed onto the express platforms at certain stations to facilitate track work.

      Of course, NYC has the luxury of many or most of its line having at least three if not four tracks to play with, and even the few 2-track lines have multiple pull-outs and cross-overs.

      • latemodel says:

        The local trains occasionally get routed onto the express platforms at certain stations to facilitate track work.

        That must be what I'm thinking of.

    • jwz says:

      Hey, I bike everywhere. I'm just looking out for the rest of your lazy and/or geographically inconvenient slobs.

  3. mooflyfoof says:

    Oh wow. I'm actually reading the report now and came across this, re: their proposed new transbay transit center:

    "Unfortunately, it will not be possible to take full advantage of this new transit capacity if the additional buses are stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge. As a result, SPUR recommends establishing a bus-only, peak-hour contraflow lane. This means that when most traffic is heading into San Francisco, a lane on the lower deck would be set aside for the exclusive use of transbay buses heading into downtown San Francisco. "

    Speaking as someone who drives on the lower level of the bay bridge most mornings, the thought of a bus traveling in the opposite direction in an adjacent lane sounds... freaking terrifying. I mean, I guess the lanes move around on the GG bridge and it's okay, but something about it just freaks me out. At least traffic wouldn't be significantly impacted; as it stands they almost always have one lane closed on the bridge in the morning, and it's fine. Granted if they closed another lane IN ADDITION to that one lane, it might start getting ugly.


    "BART's station capacity problems for East Bay commuters into downtown San Francisco also apply to intra-San Francisco and Peninsula commuters, even though they only make up 20 percent (8,000 people each) of commuters getting off at Embarcadero or Montgomery Street stations."

    They only make up 20% of commuters because because because BART only serves SOMA, the Mission, and Glen Park! The rest of the city has no choice but to take MUNI (or ride their bike or drive). It kinda chaps my hide that the places it's easiest to bike to downtown from (SOMA, the Mission) are also some of the only places served by BART. The rest of us live on giant hills, which makes riding a bike downtown daunting -- especially in work clothes.

    • 205guy says:

      Gotta love history: the lower deck of the Bay Bridge was originally built for trucks and 2 lines of trolley-cars, aka train tracks. I just learned about it on photo-retrospective

  4. pdx6 says:

    Historically speaking, BART was meant to cover a lot more ground than it does today. City-wise, it was to be a double decker subway, much like 12th and 19th Street Oakland stations. Between budget issues, Marin voting themselves out of the system, and neighborhood objections to construction, we're left with what we have today.

    If the original plan had come to fruition, we'd have Van Ness, Castro, and West Portal BART, with a possible Geary line that would cross the Golden Gate.

    Based on this history, I doubt there will be a SoMA Bart or even high speed rail to the new transbay terminal within our working lifetimes. It's fun to dream about though!

    • mooflyfoof says:

      Bah. What is up with San Franciscans -- and Californians in general -- shooting themselves in the foot with this not-in-my-backyard bullshit? We really need to get our heads out of the sand... Except I don't even understand who this mysterious "we" is. Everyone I know and everyone I see talking about issues like this online is in complete agreement about these things, so why do they keep getting voted in the other direction?

      • don_negro says:

        The 'we' is 'they' and 'they' are assholes who don't take public transit anyway. No one who depends on it to get around town is opposed to any of this.

        Hell, running muni down the middle of Geary seems like the ultimate no-brainer to me, but has it been done? Anyone crammed onto the 38, repeatedly apologizing for elbowing an old Chinese lady in the head knows the answer to that one.

      • ladykalessia says:

        Ever been to Atherton?

      • elusis says:

        You know why 280 doesn't actually connect to I-80, but instead dumps onto neighborhood streets half a mile away? You know why 101 doesn't actually function as a highway through the city? NIMBY, and an active desire to frustrate car traffic *even if that traffic is not intended for the city, but intended to go around it on the way to elsewhere*.

        I did a bunch of reading about SF highways and transit after trying to deal with driving my parents around on a recent weekend, and it made me so filled with rage I could not actually see straight.

        • dasht says:

          Jane Jacobs makes an interesting argument that bypasses are poor urban planning. The argument is roughly that if you build them, people will use them, so that money that used to meander in and out of a neighborhood is then seen just driving past it at a very high rate of speed.

          That would seem to apply in this case: For example, the state of 101 is probably a factor in keeping commercial rents high downtown. The state of 280/80 probably sells a lot of gasoline, at least. The tax base from these things surely doesn't hurt, nor the support jobs around the office buildings, etc.

          Also, place your bets on the form of economic "recovery" over the next few years. As James Kunstler likes to say: "To exactly what state of affairs to we expect to recover?" Monetarists and Keynesians (and its hard to tell the difference anymore) seem to expect that with a few kicks the big money flows will resume and we'll be back to boom times. "Structuralists", for want of a better word, are looking at things like the collapse of oil exploration and production, the sorry state of agriculture, the miserable state of water, and the gutting of manufacturing and I think the prediction there would be for considerably reduced car traffic by, say, a decade from now.


          • 0ntological says:

            SF had a really long hard fought war against freeways. I am proud of SF for that. We fought against the same companies that were responsible for literally ripping out streetcars and BURNING them in dozens of american cities! Yeah, seriously, burning them in big piles. I think it's appropriate that SF inherited many of those streetcars and has them on the F line.

            Point is, there's not a lot of SF that really needs a freeway through it. Freeways fucked a lot of awesome cities in the 50s-70s. I come from one of those places (Seattle). Cities need good public transit, not more cars, unless you are a big fan of asthma in inner city children, urban sprawl, Walmarts, and all the other lovely side effects of freeways.

            • elusis says:

              Yeah, freeways are terrible.. unless you're trying to get from point A to point X. Like, say, from Pleasant Hill to the Excelsior. Or Castro Valley to the Presidio. Or Tracy to Golden Gate Park. Or Pittsburgh to Stern Grove.

              Stalling cars AND buses in surface-level traffic doesn't do anything for anyonee's health. Stalling people on transit for hours doesn't change anyone's habits.

              • jwz says:

                A lifestyle in which people need to regularly get from Pittsburg to Stern Grove results in extinction of our species.

                Just sayin'.

                • elusis says:

                  I guess the people in Pittsburgh should just stay home instead of enjoying free concerts in the park and other cultural events, because they're not able to afford to live in San Francisco.

                  • 0ntological says:

                    In response to your first comment:
                    No, but letting them keep their trains would have resulted in them never changing their habits in the first place, and the continued support of freeways over transit won't help. Los Angeles (gasp!) used to have public transit that ran ALL OVER the city. BART is fast and could be convenient but isn't. Also, I am more than willing to spend an extra half an hour to not be driving. Buses were a solution put forth by car companies. I'm pretty sure we are talking about trains here.

                    In response to your second: People in pittsburgh should be able to easily take trains to stern grove instead of driving. I think that's the point. At the worst they can now take BART and a bus. It's marginally more expensive to do that. It costs ~$13 to take transit. It's about 90 miles round trip to get to the city from pittsburg. Bridge toll is a whopping $4. Then there's parking. I would like to repeat though- it's bs that transit isn't better. It shouldn't be so expensive. IT should go more places. It would, if we hadn't accepted the urban sprawl, freeway loving crap we were sold in the 50s onwards.

                  • elusis says:

                    I would like to repeat though- it's bs that transit isn't better. It shouldn't be so expensive. IT should go more places.

                    I fully agree here. And what I find frustrating about the Bay Area is that it isn't better, it is expensive, it doesn't go many of the places it needs to go (the whole western half of the city, even!), but the region seems incapable of dealing with that problem while perfectly willing to actively frustrate car transit. It's like I tell therapists who want to force clients to stop "unwanted behaviors" before understanding the behaviors and offering some way of replacing them: you can't yank away a person's crutch and then say "we'll get you a wheelchair or some rehab or something... eventually... we hope! Good luck in the meantime!" But the anti-car forces in SF have a lot of privilege issues they're not willing to deal with and the NIMBY-ism seems to be at the heart of many of their initiatives, not the desire to actually create an alternative that works. (You've got forces in Berkeley that are, at the same time they're trying to reduce parking to "discourage driving," also lobbying against rapid-transit lanes for buses to try to reduce some of the absurd delays on major Oakland/Berkeley routes!)

                    Because indeed, it is the point that people in Pittsburg should be able to take trains to Stern Grove, but they can't, AND the city has worked to make sure that it's bloody hard for them to drive there too. So the message is "don't live near the culture? Have time or money or health limitations, or a big family, or anything else that might make our broken-ass system unworkable for you? Well too bad!" I have friends out on the far side of the Caldecott whom I invite to stuff in the city all the time, but they can't afford to come in even for free things because the train fare for a family of four is prohibitive, and the mobility issues one member has prohibit dealing with multiple transfers and long walks. So they can deal with driving, or not come.

                    And the race/class issues surrounding the decision to pull down the 480 Embarcadero bypass are swept under the rug, so anyone from the East Bay who wants to get to the beach or the Presidio or the Golden Gate can deal with the transit fuckery or drive through clogged city streets. And the Octavia Blvd. neighborhood can gentrify, safe in the knowledge that they no longer have that ugly old 101 to deal with, and the traffic that it should carry over and through the city can instead spill off in nasty ol' SOMA and Van Ness Ave.

                    If SF had a world-class transit system, I'd roll my eyes over the stupidity of its broken-ass bypasses. But it has broken-ass transit too.

  5. vxo says:

    I wonder... Would they be using the same goofy 5-foot-something gauge for the new line?

  6. frandroid says:

    Huh, you can't increase downtown density eternally. This report seems misguided. It's still working on the premise of a central business district with people coming from far away to work there, except that in their plan, there is more public transit to get there. That still implies lots of car transit, with all the related peak oil perils.

    What really make sense is to still have semi-dense business areas, but to have a lot more of them and spread them much further out. You still want fast transit links in-between, but you want to create a lot more vibrant neighbourhoods where people both live and work. You don't ban office buildings in some parts of the city; you make office work available everywhere in the city. What you do is that you create a lot of ground-story business zoning with any exceeding floor capacity residential only. You do like Ontario did with its Green Belt: You put an end to urban sprawl and mandate higher density construction within the existing built or about to be built areas.

    • dasht says:

      You might like Berkeley: it's actually largely NIMBY vs. "New Urbanists" with the roughly Jacobian Urbanists slowly winning.


  7. mysterc says:

    Underground boats on the folsom river. That's my vote

  8. wire_on_fire says:

    The problem with BART is that it's broad-gauge with special equipment requirements unlike any other transit system.

    Even though it looks like the DC Metro, DC was able to take advantage of many of the lovely examples of what not to do exemplified by the BART.

    So, while expanding BART would be nice, there are a lot of unpleasant details hidden in the noise that make any expansion plans much more expensive and tricky. Thus, it would make far more sense to build track that Muni Metro and/or Caltrain could use and cut their losses on the various dumb design points of BART sooner rather than later. But most of the time, the transit planners seem to have a hard-on for BART instead. Which means that BART pays a LOT more per car and a LOT more per mile of track than most other setups.

    You can also bet that this talk is all job-oriented and that there's no thought given to people's late night excursions in the slightest. Even taking Caltrain home for even meeting friends in the city for coffee or dinner deeply sucks because there's no express trains and there's widely spaced trains. But in order to make it happen, you'd probably have to run the late-night trains long enough for people to make it a habit.

    I suspect we'd see a nice drop in drunk/drugged driving, tho.

    • 205guy says:

      Express trains to Atherton every 10 minutes past 1am, that's the ticket.

      a. Those trains take a lot of diesel to run and only marginally less when empty.

      b. There are other people in the world, some live on the Peninsula near the tracks and since they don't all like to party until 4am on weeknight, they prefer to sleep rather than hear express trains all night.

      • wire_on_fire says:

        That's true right now.

        On the other hand, one of these days, it's going to be electric instead of diesel, which will reduce the noise and energy issues. Especially if they end up using electric multiple units, it'll be much easier for them to run a 2-3 car train late at night.

        I'd like to think that people would be rational in weighing noise-reduced express trains at night vs. traffic accidents caused by impaired and/or sleepy drivers (As well as the inherent safety advantage to not driving in general). But I know that they are probably going to just insist that a BAC of .02 (e.g. ~1-2 drinks) will eventually be classified as drunk driving.

        • 205guy says:

          Where by days, you actually meant decades. And everyone knows the actual energy required to move the trains will be reduced when switching where the energy is produced. Ah, but you did suggest replacing all the rolling stock to fix that little issue. All paid for by 100 extra late-night riders, of course.

          Everyone also knows that electric trains (like BART) are absolutely quiet and don't need bells or whistles to warn the drunk pedestrians stumbling home from their local un-hip Peninsula watering hole. All you need then is another 100 eager riders so they can cover the costs of eliminating the grade crossings, and no warning bells are needed.

          There are other shovel-ready solutions that shift the responsibility for the chosen lifestyle back onto the individual: taxi, designated driver, crashing at a friend's house, moving to the Tenderloin, waiting 30 minutes for the last train (oh the horror).

          If you had actually said "it would be nice to have one more late-nite train on Fri & Sat" we also could've avoided all this snark.