S.F.’s Central Subway saw declines in ridership during its first two months of service, data show
San Francisco's Central Subway officially opened in January, but ridership numbers declined over its second month of service
The frequency and reliability is just so bad. Tried to take it but just ended up going back to other lines.
It’s a set of gorgeous, overdesigned stations with the frequency of a small town holiday tram. The federal government grant application proposed a 2 minute headway, it’s scheduled to run every 12 minutes, but recently every time I’ve taken it I’ve had to wait nearly 20 minutes for the next train.
After the parade last weekend I decided to take it to Chinatown and get lunch. Screens said trains in 19 mins and 24 mins. After waiting for for 17 mins a random S shuttle came. We need more frequency!
I was hoping that it could make getting to Caltrain easier. the N takes forever as it wraps around the Embarcadero and stops at street lights. But every time, staying on the N is actually quicker as the frequency of the T is so godawful awful. 20 min between trains during commute hour is ridiculous.
I'm not surprised. Phase 2 is a glorified shuttle without Phase 3 to North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf. Once Phase 3 is complete, the line will feel like it has a real purpose.
Just two more stations, come on...
It’s shockingly slow south of market once it goes above ground. I was hoping it’d be a sane way to get down there, but to wait for a transfer from the muni underground market and then have it be that slow is not worth it.
from the chinatown side it takes longer to get down to the platform than the actual train ride. The only upside ofthis part of the system is not having to walk through the stockton tunnel. It will only improve once they open up the rest of the lines destinations over the next 20(?) years
Can we get journalist who ask better questions? eg "Why doesn't the trains meet a 15min frequency?" "What is the original schedule" "How often are trains delayed?" "What is the average delay" "Why isn't this public information"
SF was 7x7 miles but now it's 7x7x7 miles if you count the stairs down to the central subway.
Waited 18 minutes for a train from Union Square this morning after transferring from Powell. Ridiculous to have such wait times during commuting hours.
We walked faster than the trains run, such a giant waste of resources.
i think 3 times in a row i went down there to see no scheduled train and a crowd of people waiting. Meanwhile theres a bus every 60 seconds just like last year. Im almost afraid to make this post in case they think the solution is to decimate bus frequency too.
God, 3,000 daily entries for a full-fledged new subway line is terrible. You build subways so that you can move masses and masses of people, at least tens of thousands a day per mile. While SF badly needs more subway lines, this just ain't it.
Way too short, built at way too high a cost, and not running at nearly high enough frequencies. For every trip I want to take, the buses are still faster and more reliable, even though they go through the most choked streets in the city. This makes my heart weep.
Waste of.money, all of that should have been invested in opening a geary line
I'm not surprised at this. I complained about their issues 2 months ago: https://www.reddit.com/r/sanfrancisco/comments/10jtwtl/the_central_subway_is_a_joke_so_far/
It's still unpredictable (real ETA doesn't reflect what the signs say), and the signs at the top of the chinatown station are still blank.
That seems normal, new things are exciting and people want to try them, then things settle a bit once they're no longer new.
I would take it, but have found that it's a lot slower than the 15 going between 4th and Market and Chase Center area. The train is a bit faster underground but is way slower on surface streets. Since they each run (supposedly) every 10 minutes during the day, there's no good reason to take the train.
The prediction times are also useless. Sometimes it will say that the next train is coming in 15 minutes and is correct; sometimes it will say 15 minutes then suddenly drop to 1 minute when a train magically appears at Chinatown station.
Average daily usage is down 9% in February from January’s already low numbers. Trains leaving Chinatown station are averaging only 12 passengers - 3% of capacity. This is not sustainable.
The main flaw is that it’s worse than the existing bus service. This was well understood but ignored. Here’s a article from 2010 on how it will be slower:
Here’s the in-depth SF Grand Jury report from 2011 on the many flaws in the project:
All this was known well before construction actually started in 2012 but we went ahead anyway. This is how we do things in SF!
So what can be done now? Here are some ideas:
Close It: Right now it’s not sustainable financially or even environmentally. The $2+ billion spent so far is gone forever. Why waste millions more when Muni is already struggling financially? And at such low ridership it is a net negative for the environment (LR4s burn ~5kWh/mi plus stations, overhead, etc).
Make It Free: One reason it is not used are the fare gates. Currently 50% more people are exiting than entering and the only good explanation they aren’t paying. The obvious concern would be maintaining cleanliness and safety and this would probably wouldn’t raise ridership enough to be sustainable but combined with…
End/Cutback Competing Bus Lines: Right now the 8/30/45 buses are faster and more convenient than the Central Subway and very popular (~30,000 daily riders on entire lines). If they were rerouted to not compete - say end the 30/45 near Chinatown station and end 8 at Caltrain - you could force these riders off the buses and onto the subway. This probably increase ridership 5-10X but make these riders transit experience worse, hurt business in Chinatown and make the overall system less efficient. Even combined with free entry it’s probably not politically feasible but Muni has done this before and this seems the most likely outcome. Kinda makes me sick thinking about it.
Turn It Into A Shuttle: Have a few trains just go back and forth between Chinatown and Yerba Buena (Folsom St) or maybe even just Union Sq/Market St. Then it could be much more frequent and probably a few minutes faster than the bus and more reliable. On downside it would make continuing require a transfer and would require track and platform work.
Extend It: Popular idea on the subreddit. Residents in North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf and tourists would provide additional usage but population density and state of our tourism industry it’s not likely to be a huge increase (30/8 bus usage on this section ~10k/day?) and doesn’t address the fundamental flaws (poor station location and frequency limits). Would be very expensive and take a very long time (10+ years).
Will be interesting to see how this plays out. Be nice if we learned from this.