This rendering depicts the Muni stop at 4th and Brannan streets. (Image courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Shuttle service for the Central Subway lines — decades in the making — will begin Nov. 19, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency announced earlier this week.

This means commuters and tourists will finally be able to travel from the newly-constructed Muni station at 4th and Brannan streets to the Chinatown/Rose Pak station at Washington and Stockton streets, with stops at the Yerba Buena/Moscone station south of Market and the Union Square/Market Street station, where passengers can make transfers to both Bay Area Rapid Transit and the existing Muni stations.

This rendering depicts the Muni stop at 4th and Folsom streets, at the Moscone Center. (Image courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)

This shuttle service will be weekend-only, but it will be free. The full system with a full schedule will open shortly thereafter in January 2023, when the 1.7 mile-long stretch will be connected to Muni’s T-line.

This rendering depicts the Muni stop at Stockton and O’Farrell streets, at Union Square. (Image courtesy of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency)

“The November opening represents a promise fulfilled to the Chinatown community to provide better local and regional transit connections,” stated Rafael Mandelman, chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority and District 8 (Castro-Noe Valley) supervisor. “The Transportation Authority was glad to support the project with $215M from various sources, including the half-cent sales tax program. We hope to renew the half-cent sales tax program with approval of Measure L this November so that we can fund the city’s next generation of transformational projects.”

SFMTA published renderings of what the stations will look like when they are fully operational.

The Central Subway was conceived after the demolition of the Embarcadero freeway in 1991. While many people fought for its destruction because it obstructed views of the San Francisco Bay from downtown and chocked neighborhoods with traffic and smog, Chinatown businesses suffered because the freeway brought traffic from the Bay Bridge to Broadway in just minutes.

Rose Pak, whose name the Chinatown station bears, lobbied hard for the project as a way to once again bring people north in a short timespan. She died in 2016. But Pak was also controversial within the community, and some were upset the station was named for her since SFMTA’s policy is normally to name stations after geographic places, which led to the “Rose Pak/Chinatown” name.

“We are finally going to be able to experience the vision of thriving, connected neighborhoods—from Chinatown to [SOMA] to the Bayview and Visitacion Valley — that the people who first conceived of the Central Subway imagined,” Jeffrey Tumlin, the city’s transportation director, stated. “I know this announcement has been a long time coming, and I want to thank the community members and neighborhood businesses that have endured far too many years of construction. I hope the opening of the Central Subway will help jumpstart the economic recovery of our city’s downtown as well as its unique neighborhoods.”