SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — San Francisco’s Central Subway running between Chinatown and Mission Bay will finally open for public service Saturday after years of delays.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will initially open the subway line with a free, weekends-only shuttle between the Fourth and Brannon streets and Chinatown-Rose Pak stations. Muni officials said earlier this year that the soft opening will allow the transit agency to ensure that staff are fully trained for daily subway operations, which are scheduled to begin in January, coinciding with the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Mayor London Breed, former Mayor Willie Brown, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Muni Director Jeffrey Tumlin and other local officials and community leaders from Chinatown are expected to celebrate the subway’s opening early Saturday morning. The christening will include a 30-minute good fortune blessing led by the Lotus Taoist Institute and the Rev. Norman Fong of the Presbyterian Church in Chinatown.

Muni first broke ground on the Central Subway in 2010 and received nearly $1 billion in federal funding to complete the project, with an original opening date scheduled for late 2018. A series of delays including a fire earlier this year at one of the subway’s stations as well as the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately pushed that timeline back roughly four years.

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The Central Subway will run perpendicular to Muni’s existing main subway line that is aligned with BART’s downtown stations and will modify the current route of the T-Third Street Muni line. The T line currently turns right at the intersection of Second and King streets and continues along King Street and the Embarcadero.

Once full service through the Central Subway begins, the T line will continue straight through Second and King streets and stop at a surface station at Fourth and Brannon streets before venturing underground. The subway includes stops at the Moscone Center and Union Square before terminating in Chinatown at the intersection of Stockton and Washington streets.

The Union Square station will also have a connecting escalator to the Powell Street Muni and BART stations.

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