After a decade of construction, Central Subway will open to public Saturday

Artwork by San Francisco artist Yumei Hou is seen inside the Chinatown-Rose Pak station in San Francisco, Calif, on Thursday, Oct. 2022. (Photo by Jerold Chinn)

Just two days left until the soft opening of San Francisco’s $1.95 billion Central Subway.

It’s a soft opening of the new subway because Muni shuttle trains will only service the new stations, including the street-level Fourth and Brannan station as well as the Yerba Buena/Moscone, Union Square/Market Street and Chinatown-Rose Pak stations.

The shuttle service will be free and will only run on weekends from 8 a.m. to midnight, with trains running every 12 minutes, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

The K and T will continue to operate as normal during the soft opening period, the agency said.

“It’s been a long decade working to get this project open and we have learned a lot of lessons from it,” SFMTA’s Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin said at Tuesday’s board meeting.

SFMTA Director of Transportation Jeffrey Tumlin speaks to reporters during a tour of the Chinatown-Rose Pak station in San Francisco, Calif., on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. (Photo by Jerold Chinn)

Tumlin added that the weekend shuttle service will allow the agency to continue training its staff for the Jan. 7, 2023 opening date for full revenue service. Save the date because that is when the K-Ingleside and T-Third rail lines will separate.

The public will not only be able to ride through the new subway, but also admire the artwork at the new stations.

“I’m excited that it’s going to be a shuttle to get it going, at least for now. In January, the hope is that we open it so that it continues along the lines of what it was intended for,” Breed said Tuesday at Union Square.

The mayor also spoke about a San Francisco Chronicle article published Nov. 11 in regards to a bronze plaque that memorializes the late Rose Pak at the Chinatown-Rose Pak station. Pak fought to have to the Central Subway built to Chinatown after The City tore down the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

City and community leaders unveiled the plaque last Thursday night.

A San Francisco Standard reporter pointed out in a tweet that the birthplace engraved on the plaque was incorrect and then the story from the Chronicle followed. The San Francisco Standard also published its own story.

The Chronicle story has since been updated as of Wednesday with a statement from Pak’s younger sister, Joanna Kish, that was provided from the Rose Pak Community Fund. The statement said that the engraving was correct and the plaque was reviewed beforehand.

Below is a video of Breed speaking about the story and the opening of the new subway.

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Jerold Chinn

Award-winning transportation journalist based in San Francisco.