I can't believe I've been posting about this project for ten years. Remember Mom Chung and Big Alma?
As an ostensible cost-saving measure, the Central Subway tunnel platforms were designed to only accommodate two-car trains -- a disastrous decision, among so many disastrous decisions, that singularly dooms this multi-billion dollar project to failure. [...]
"As a transit nerd and subway fan, it is painful how badly they built this subway," laments former longtime BART commissioner Tom Radulovich. "There is incredible awkwardness built into the Central Subway, and we're going to be reckoning with it for a long time." [..]
The ridership capacity that would have justified this multi-billion dollar project is now impossible to achieve. Even if people flock to take this rail line, two-car trains will quickly fill up and be overwhelmed. [...] Simply put: The Central Subway cannot carry the ridership numbers that were used to justify its existence. And post-facto enlarging the platforms in the now-completed subterranean stations would be fantastically disruptive and costly -- if it were even possible at all. [...]
"Subways can provide high-capacity transit for a lot of people. This subway won't," sums up Radulovich. "They designed it with very short platforms." And this, he continues, will lead to cascading problems. The dense development planned along the path of the Central Subway was meant to be served by a high-ridership line. "But it's N-Judah capacity," Radulovich says, "not BART capacity."
The plan was, "let's basically build New York-style density. But on a streetcar line that can only run two-car trains," he adds. "It's a real mismatch." [...]
This rail line is essentially an orphan, and its failure to be a step toward establishing a true subway network represents a spectacular missed opportunity for San Francisco. As it is, the transfer from the Central Subway's Union Square/Market Street station to Powell Street Station requires a 1,018-foot walk -- nearly three football fields. There's also an 85-foot ascent and an estimated travel time of seven minutes, six seconds.