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‘There are no people here’: S.F.’s $2.2 billion transit center remains an empty cavern

By Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, April 25, 2023

Editorial Team Note:

This visual report, structured after the Salesforce Transit Center itself, explores the megaproject’s vast potential and recent struggles.

“Two distinct realities — vibrant activity and eerie emptiness — are juxtaposed at Transbay transit center, the three-block-long behemoth cloaked in curvaceous white steel located south of Mission Street, running from Beale Street to just shy of Second Street.

“One of the Bay Area’s biggest infrastructure projects in decades, the transit center sees its ambitions reflected in the moniker ‘The Grand Central Station of the West.’

“There’s no question that the pandemic still drastically affects the terminal. AC Transit, its main transit provider, is running only about 57 percent of its pre-pandemic routes.

“As Supervisor Aaron Peskin once said, without rail connections, the $2.2 billion structure ‘looks like the most expensive bus terminal in the history of humankind.’

“Alicia John-Baptiste, a board member of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which owns and operates the center, sees bringing trains there as crucial, not just to the building itself, but also to the Bay Area.’

“The complex’s most bustling area is Fitness SF, a 35,000-square-foot second-floor gym that attracts hundreds of people a day … It’s accessed from escalators on First Street, so its patrons often rarely set foot in the rest of the transit center.

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