Rescue Muni Issues Central Subway Fact Sheet

Rescue Muni has put together a Central Subway Fact Sheet that debunks many of the claims opponents of the project have been making of late. While we support debate and don’t expect everyone to agree with our support of the Central Subway (even some of our own members), we feel that it is important to challenge many of the assertions being made by Save Muni and others that distort the debate. We strongly feel that when people truly understand the benefits of the Central Subway, most will strongly support the project.

Central Subway Fact Sheet

Opponents Claim: Central Subway will not provide a connection to the Market Street Subway.

Fact: Central Subway will provide a sheltered, underground connection to the Market Street Subway.

Opponents Claim: Transferring from the Central Subway to Market Street Subway will be inefficient.

Fact: Central Subway will provide a much improved transfer over the current transfer between the Market Street Subway’s Powell Street Station and the 30/45/8X bus lines.

  • Currently, travellers endure a truly horrendous experience getting from Powell Street Station to the northbound bus stop for the 30/45/8X at Kearny and Market Street, which requires riders to walk at street level for a .25-mile stretch (1,320 feet and 2 ½ long blocks) along Market Street.
  • The Union Square/Market Street Central Subway station is only .15 (792 feet) miles to the Powell Street Station. Walk times between the two platforms will average around 5 minutes.
  • The Central Subway will provide a much shorter and efficient transfer for travellers going northbound on the Central Subway from the Powell Street Station.
  • The Central Subway will provide a comparable transfer for travellers transferring from southbound Central Subway trains to the Powell Street Station by eliminating delays buses suffer as they traverse through the congested Stockton corridor.
  • Travelers have the choice of using escalators and elevators.
  • Underground walkways efficiently connect metro rail stations all over the world.

Opponents Claim: Central Subway is too deep for an efficient transfer to the Market Street Subway.

Fact: Riders transferring will not have to travel all the way to the surface. Rather they will be able to use an underground concourse, which is at the same level as the fare gates at Powell Street Station.

Opponents Claim: Central Subway will have longer “perceived” trip times than current bus service.

Fact: Save Muni and others are distorting the facts about the projects travel times by quoting “perceived” travel times, rather than “actual” travel times.  They have multiplied all walk times to and from stations and wait times at platforms by 2.3.

Route Save Muni “Perceived” Average Travel Times of Central Subway Actual Average Travel Times of Central Subway
Pacific and Stockton to Caltrain Walk (to station) – 11.1 min

Wait (at platform) – 5.8 min

Riding Time – 6.3 min

Walk (from station) – 2.2 min

Total – 25.4 min

Walk (to station) – 4.8 min

Wait (at platform) – 2.5 min

Riding time – 6.3 min

Walk (from station) – 1 min

Total – 14.6 min

Distortion: almost 11 min per trip

Pacific and Stockton to Market Street Subway (Muni Metro) Walk (to station) – 11.1 min

Wait (at platform) – 5.8 min

Riding time – 1.8 min

Walk (from station) – 4.4 min

Total – 18.4

Walk (to station)– 4.8 min

Wait (at platform) – 2.5 min

Riding time – 1.8 min

Walk (from transit) – 1.9 min

Total – 11 minutes

Distortion: 7.3 minutes per trip

Opponents Claim: Current bus travel time between Pacific and Stockton to Caltrain is 10 minutes.

Fact: Typically this bus takes approximately 15-20 minutes at off-peak times, and 20-35 minutes at rush hour.

  • They are using best-case scenario bus travel times, ignoring the frequently congested Stockton and 3rd/4th Street corridors that severely delays bus, especially at rush hour.
  • Their assumption of a 10-minute bus travel time from Pacific and Stockton to Caltrain appears to be an error. Even if corrected to 15-minute travel times, this is often not achieved.

Opponents Claim: Central Subway eliminates running service from existing T-Line along the Embarcadero and into the Market Street Subway.

Fact: While SFMTA currently envisions eliminating T-Line service along Embarcadero to the Market Street subway, there is no physical barrier to running some T-Line trains along this route in the future.

  • There is still the possibility to run some T-line trains along the Embarcadero/ Market Street Subway route if demand warrants. This may be desirable during rush hour to provide a one-seat ride to high-employment destinations at the Embarcadero and Montgomery Stations.

Opponents Claim:  We can recapture $475-595M in capital funds if we cancel the Central Subway.

Fact: We would lose all $948 million in federal funds. It is also very questionable if we could reclaim any of the $369 million in state funds. Redirecting local Proposition K funds ($123 million) to other projects would violate the intent of the voters.

  • If the Central Subway is delayed or canceled, all federal funds and most if not all state funds would be redirected to other projects outside of San Francisco. There have been calls to “return to the drawing board” for a more efficient, less expensive plan. This option is not a reality for the Central Subway. The New Starts funding is the result of a decade of applications, data and advocacy. To lose this money would mean losing all of the jobs for the people that are currently being employed and will soon be employed.

Opponents Claim:  We could save $189 million in operating costs.

Fact: Annual operating costs would be $15 million for the Central Subway.

  • The claim of $189 million operating subsidies would be stretched over 12 years. This is a trick to make the number look huge. Analyzing operating costs annually is the correct methodology.
  • The “no project” alternative of doing nothing and not increasing operating costs is not feasible. Today’s service is already inadequate to accommodate existing ridership, not to mention a total inability to accommodate increased transit ridership in the corridor in the future.

Opponents Ignore the Following Benefits of the Central Subway’s Union Square/Market Street Station

  • The Central Subway will dramatically improve the experience of existing transit riders, who endure unacceptable crowding and slow service.
  • The Central Subway will alleviate congestion for current riders as well as to accommodate additional ridership.  As of 2008, 54,193 people currently board the 30, 45 and 8X each day. The Stockton corridor is one of the most congested in the City.
  • Much more convenient access to Union Square.
  • Much more comfortable experience for all users.
  • Much more legible experience for all users will encourage additional usage of Muni.
  • Much safer conditions for handicap and elderly users.


1. San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed, “San Francisco’s Central Subway to the future” by Steve Taber, SPUR

2. CBS Local news, “San Francisco Supervisors Rally Support for Central Subway Project”

3. San Francisco Examiner, “Straight Talk on why San Francisco needs the Central Subway” by Steve Falk