San Francisco Transbay Terminal

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San Francisco Transbay Terminal
San Francisco Transbay Terminal, or simply Transbay Terminal, is a transportation complex in San Francisco, California, USA, located roughly in the center of the rectangle bounded north–south by Mission Street and Howard Street, and east–west by Beale Street and 2nd Street. Currently, it serves long-distance buses and transbay buses from San Francisco north to Marin County, east to the East Bay, and south to San Mateo County. A new Transbay Terminal building at roughly the same location is planned to be built to replace the existing structure. During construction, a temporary facility on the corner of Main, Folsom, Beale, and Howard Streets would be used. The existing terminal is scheduled to close on August 7, 2010.

Bridge Railway
The Transbay Terminal was built as the San Francisco terminus for the electric commuter trains of the Southern Pacific, the Key System and the Sacramento Northern railroads which ran on the south side of the lower deck of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. The SP and Sacramento Northern trains ceased service across the Bay in 1941. The Key trains ran until April 1958 after which the tracks were removed from the terminal and replaced with pavement for use primarily by the buses of the publicly-owned successor of the Key System, AC Transit.

Agencies Serving the Transbay Terminal
Several agencies serve the Transbay Terminal, including:
  • AC Transit (all services use the Transbay Terminal ramp area, except when noted)
    • Commute-only routes: Routes B, BA, C, CB, E, FS, G, H, J, L, LA, NX, NX1, NX2, NX3, NX4, OX, P, S, SB, V, W, and Z
    • Daily Transbay routes: Routes F, NL, and O
    • All-Nighter route: Route 800*
  • Golden Gate Transit (several stops along Fremont Street, Mission Street, and 1st Street)
    • Commute-only routes: Routes 18, 24, 26, 27, 38, 44, 54, 56, 58, 72, 72F, 72X, 73, 74, and 76
    • Daily routes: Routes 10, 70, 80**, and 101***
  • Greyhound Bus Lines (all services use the Transbay Terminal ramp area)
    • Used as a terminal station for many routes from around the United States
  • SamTrans (all services use the bottom ramp of terminal at Mission Street between First & Fremont Streets)
    • Commute-only route: Route 391
    • Daily routes: Routes 292 and KX
    • All-Nighter route: Route 397
  • Muni (almost all daytime services use the elevated ramp next to the terminal; Route 108 daytime services use the Transbay Terminal ramp area)
    • Local routes: Routes 5, 38, 71, and 108*
    • Limited stop routes: Routes 38L** and 71L**
    • All-Nighter routes: Routes 5, 38, and 108*
  • Muni (stops along Mission Street, across from terminal)
    • Local and All-Nighter route: Route 14
    • Limited stop route: Route 14L
    • Commute-only route: Route 14X
  • WestCAT (all services use the Transbay Terminal ramp area)
    • Commute-only route: Lynx
  • Other services:
    • Caltrain Bay Bridge Bike Shuttle
    • Kaiser Hospital Shuttle
Notes: * - when the Transbay Terminal ramp area is closed, passengers for Muni Route 108 and AC Transit Route 800 must board on surface streets near the terminal building; ** - operates on select days and times only; *** - operates weekdays only, replaces Route 80

On January 30, 1986, four underground storage fuel tanks were excavated and removed from the 150 First Street site. Each of these tanks had a capacity of 1,000 gallons (Earth Metrics, 1989). Eight soil samples showed the existence of total petroleum hydrocarbons in levels ranging from 20 to 9,000 parts per million. On February 3, 1986, the excavation was backfilled.

Transbay Terminal Replacement Project

The new terminal
The City and County of San Francisco, the Alameda – Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit), and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board ( Caltrain) have proposed a plan to replace the currently underutilized and outdated building with an entirely new and more functional building at roughly the same location. In addition to maintaining the current bus services, this proposed terminal would also include a tunnel that would extend the Caltrain commuter rail line from its current terminus at Fourth and King Streets to the new Transbay Terminal. If and when this project is completed, Caltrain riders would no longer need to transfer to Muni in order to reach the downtown financial district. Additionally, the heavy rail portion of the terminal would be designed to accommodate the planned High Speed Rail from Los Angeles via the Caltrain line. BART has also expressed interest in being part of this plan by having their proposed "Second Transbay Tube" connect to the new terminal. As of 2005, this project has published its final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and is in the process of designing and securing the required funds. The new Transbay Terminal building, Phase I of the project, is currently scheduled to start construction in August 2010. Phase II of the project, the rail extension, is planned to begin in 2012 and open to rail service in 2019. Recently, the new Transbay Terminal has been tentatively named Transbay Transit Center.

New skyscrapers
Along with the new terminal, thirteen towers have been proposed on sites around the new terminal, ranging from 300 feet (91 m) to 1,200 feet (366 m) tall. If built out to fund the construction of the new terminal, San Francisco will have a new tallest building and its skyline will be altered. City officials have decided to consider rezoning the area around the new terminal, and will analyze the potential to raise existing height limits (550 ft. (170 m) max) upward, with the possibility of three towers exceeding 1,000 ft. (300 m) in height. On December 21, 2006, Renzo Piano proposed a five tower complex of one 600 foot (180 m) tower, two 900 foot (275 m) towers and two 1,200 foot (370 m) towers. Other towers are under construction nearby on Rincon Hill and at Millennium Tower (301 Mission Street). Serious issues exist with regard to conforming with emergency post earthquake transportation planning guidelines and placing massive amounts of building materials and glass directly above a major transit hub and its road and rail connections. In a March 21, 2008 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the author, David Perlman speaks of "the danger to lifelines – the roads, rail tracks and bridges that must carry ambulances, fire trucks and fleeing cars after the quake; the airports that are bound to be unusable". The article quotes "Keith Knudsen of the national nonprofit Earthquake Engineering Research Institute" on the special civil engineering needs of the area: " the downtown area south of Market, where well-engineered high-rises are rapidly filling the neighborhoods, would be particularly dangerous in a major quake because the low-lying filled land there is subject to liquefaction. Those new buildings might well remain standing in the coming Hayward quake, he said, "but if the streets there settle by a couple of feet, those buildings will be isolated."

Construction Status
As of May 2010, the temporary Transbay Terminal is finished but has not yet opened, on the corner of Main, Folsom, Beale, and Howard Streets, with service expected to begin August 7, 2010. Following its completion, the demolition of the old building is expected to begin late Fall 2010.

The competition winner
As of September 20, 2007, the design proposed by César Pelli was chosen. This decision ends the eight month competition between various design firms around the world. The Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Hines design includes an elevated park, some sixty feet above the street, to hide the inner workings of the terminal. A single tower will also rise into the sky, changing the skyline of San Francisco.

Building Activity

  • Mike Cohn
    Mike Cohn commented
    This building has been demolished. All transit services have been relocated to Howard and Main for the duration of reconstruction. (2018?) There used to be great amenities in this terminal - bars, restaurants, services, even a train. In fact the while place was a train station, not a bus station. Electric trolleys ran from here to the east bay on the lower level of the Oakland bridge, but only until 1958. In 1974, the transbay tube opened for BART trains. Recent years saw the transbay terminal as more of a dilapidated homeless shelter than a place to inspire and reaffirm transit use over automotive use. And that is precisely what hurt ridership, high as it was. The new temporary terminal also fails by not offering enough actual shelter from elements, not enough seating (to thwart homeless loitering), no rest rooms (because of the homeless situation) no cafe amenities, central fountain feature, no outlets for recharging devices, and not enough arrival time signage at each platform.
    about 5 years ago via Mobile