SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Government and Chinatown community leaders will be attending the opening of San Francisco’s newest Muni subway line — which is finally leaving the new Chinatown/Rose Pak Station after a decades-long process — according to a press release from the San Francisco Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The first train from the Chinatown/Rose Pak Station to the (also new) 4th and Brannan Street Muni station will depart Saturday at 8 a.m., and will carry Mayor London Breed, Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), City Attorney David Chiu, District 3 (Chinatown-North Beach-Fisherman’s Wharf) Supervisor Aaron Peskin, advocates for the new subway line, and reporters who rsvp in advance.

Then at 10:30 a.m., the chamber will be joining other community groups in hosting an appreciation banquet at the Far East Cafe at 631 Grant Avenue in Chinatown.

After the festivities, commuters and tourists will finally be able to travel from the newly-constructed Muni stations in Chinatown and South of Market, with stops at the Yerba Buena/Moscone station, also south of Market Street, and the Union Square/Market Street station, where passengers will be able to make transfers to both Bay Area Rapid Transit and the existing Muni stations starting in Jan. 2023.

The shuttle-service kicking off Saturday will be weekend-only until then, but it will be free.

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.

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The full ceremonies Saturday will begin at 6:30 a.m. with a traditional good fortune blessing for the subway line led by the Lotus Taoist Institute and the Rev. Norman Fong. The ceremony will symbolize community renewal and recovery against the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and prejudice against Asian-Americans.

Then, at 7 a.m., will start a speaking program. When the subway line finally launches, there will be 10 lions, two dragons and firecrackers leading an anticipated 300 guests through the streets.