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A Modest Proposal — Loop The T-Third

June 5, 2012

Hey, look, a TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) — one like this will soon be digging the Central Subway under our fair city:

And here it is in action:

My biggest issue with the Central Subway? That’s there’s not enough of it. Stop at Chinatown? I don’t think so. Here’s a hint on what you do if you have a Tunnel Boring Machine:


You’d think this would be obvious, but Carter Rohan, the SFMTA’s former deputy executive director, apparently thought otherwise:

Although Schall offered that San Francisco could keep the new boring machines after the project was finished — for a price — Rohan laughed and said that the city wouldn’t be taking that option.

So sad he resigned a few months after his shortsighted chortle.

Unless we see a change in the SFMTA’s attitude, we are left with no choice but to hijack the tunnel boring machine as it exits its tunnel at Columbus and Union and continue boring tunnels.  Don’t tell Muni, but here’s the plan:

  • We keep going on Columbus and head west on Chestnut.
  • Hang a left on Divisadero with appropriate stations along the way (I was thinking about going down Fillmore, but I go to the Independent way more often these days).
  • Continue tunnelling under Divis and meet up with the station at Castro
  • Head southeast, with stations at Noe (24th & Church), La Lengua (Mission & Valencia), and Bernal (on Cortland, a Forest Hills type station which would obviously hook up with a future Van Ness subway)
  • Emerge at the Alemany Farmer’s Market (might as well make a station there on weekends) and continue to close the T-Third loop at Palou or some other suitable station (ideally which becomes a Caltrain stop)
  • Continue on to Hunters Point as that area is developed

(Base map via Stamen.)

Who’s with me? (And when we’re done, how about we run another tunnel down Geary, obviously — then we’d head down from the Richmond to the Sunset, and then cut over through Sunnyside / Mission Terrace / Crocker-Amazon / Excelsior and then meet up with that Van Ness line back under Bernal/Cortland.)

We’ll obviously have to do this in shifts. Anyone have extra hardhats and reflective vests?

45 Comments leave one →
  1. June 5, 2012 2:28 pm

    I’m down.

  2. June 5, 2012 2:31 pm

    We could also use a 19th Ave/Park Presidio tunnel. North/South tranist in this city is crap in general, but it’s especially bad if you live in the western half of town.

  3. Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
    June 5, 2012 2:35 pm

    I endorse this plan! However, it should be adjusted slightly to meet up with BART at the 30th St. station.

    • June 5, 2012 3:21 pm

      This is true. (Though I was hoping for a secret tunnel from the BurritoPlex.)

    • June 5, 2012 3:43 pm

      Agreed re: 30th St. BART connection; that way us in Glen Park are looped in via zipline or téléphérique (weather dependent) over San Jose Ave.

      Ha, “Drilling Together For Progress”.

  4. Joe Thomas permalink
    June 5, 2012 2:36 pm

    You know I’m in.

  5. June 5, 2012 4:27 pm

    There were proposals to have a north/south westside connection, usually through the park, but of course the park dept folks screamed bloody murder and it never happened. Thing is, if they had, more people could have enjoyed the park without having to drive. Last Sunday was a car-mageddon of crappy car driving in the Inner Sunset and it sucked.

    There was also a proposal for a Sunset Subway, which you can find at Eric Fisher’s epic Flickr gallery of plans.

  6. noehiller permalink
    June 5, 2012 6:26 pm

    This is quite brilliant. I just hope it doesn’t disrupt my Starbucks at 24th and Noe.

  7. mpieracci permalink
    June 5, 2012 7:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Michael Pieracci and commented:
    It’d be great to have an expansive subway network in SF. Here’s a local with some fun ideas. Public transit has evolved slowly but surely in the Bay Area. Only a few years ago did we finally get a unified transit payment card system: the Clipper Card.

  8. Sam Foster permalink
    June 5, 2012 7:56 pm

    WOW! This is an amazing idea, why can’t we have nice things like this?

  9. Joshua Bell (@inexorabletash) permalink
    June 5, 2012 8:02 pm

    I think you’ll want the North Beach station a few blocks south and introduce a Fisherman’s Wharf stop at Columbus and Chestnut. Your current stop is in a bit of a dead zone. (And, coincidentally, right next to my apartment, but I’m speaking from practicality not NIMBYism.)

    But yes, this!

    • June 5, 2012 11:16 pm

      Good point. I was pretty arbitrary placing stations in NESF, hoping people would pipe up.

    • June 9, 2012 2:08 pm

      It won’t stay a dead zone very long if there is a brand-new subway station there.

  10. June 5, 2012 8:17 pm

    I’m completely down with hijacking the thing, but I think you have to be a little more strategic about your planning. A Divisidero line is something that, conceptually, could happen on its own, whereas absent force majeure a Geary line will never happen before the heat death of the universe. So do the Geary line first, because (a) fuck the Geary St. Merchant’s Association and (b) see point A. Once you hit Point Lobos, take a left and make an interchange with the N-Judah, then keep going south (meeting up with the L at the zoo), loop around the far side of Lake Merced (woo, no more driving to Ft. Funston!), cross BART at Daly City, then follow Mission Street all the way up to 24th (dropping infill stations along the way)… and then cut back across through Noe, the Castro and down Divis to close the whole loop.

    • June 5, 2012 11:14 pm

      Oh, of course. We are doing loops within loops. We contain multitudes.

    • killflash permalink
      June 7, 2012 7:34 am

      agree with your heat death theory and points a and b

  11. redseca2 permalink
    June 6, 2012 9:22 am

    Come on ! It also needs a connection at Starfleet Command in the Presidio at the northwest corner of your loop.

    • June 6, 2012 10:06 am

      Just hop on the northern extension of CalTrain from the Transbay Center to the Presidio.

    • June 11, 2012 10:34 am

      Once we’ve invented teleportation, this entire subway becomes obsolete. Maybe at that point we could use the abandoned tunnels as an underground version of High Line Park?

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable permalink
      June 11, 2012 10:55 am

      Funny you should mention that, there is a plan to do EXACTLY THAT in NYC. Check out the appropriately named LOWLINE project:

  12. Jake Wegmann permalink
    June 6, 2012 10:24 am

    For the love of God, at the very least bring the T to North Beach.

  13. June 6, 2012 10:32 am

    As a non-SF-resident (but someone who follows the transit scene rather closely from the LA area), I say, “Let’s Dig It.” When I drive to The City, I usually stay at a motel at the end of the “N” line, and it;s a long slog to get downtown. Many years ago, a rail link between the outer “N” and “L” lines was proposed, but it never got past the “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” (as Beach Boys fans would say) stage because of no $$$ and lots of NIMBY negativism. Regarding the Geary St. idea, as someone whose ex-wife was a small-business operator many years ago, I’m familiar with the mindset of that class. One suggested correction, I think you mean “west on Chestnut”. Although this whole project is probably less likely than an all-Chicago World Series, and from my point of view, an “I should live so long” situation, it’s fun to think about.

    • June 6, 2012 4:37 pm

      Yes! West on Chestnut. Heading east would confuse my plan tremendously.

  14. June 6, 2012 3:01 pm

    There is no earthly reason why this shouldn’t happen. Except, of course, that our leaders are both corrupt and incompetent.

    • Abe permalink
      June 6, 2012 4:08 pm

      They drive

  15. June 6, 2012 3:49 pm

    Nonsense. That route would go whole blocks without serving a single tourist. Let’s get our priorities straight and refocus on the task at hand: getting diaper-butt-khaki’d, lanyard wearing conventioneers from Moscone to the strip clubs in North Beach so they can go back to their suburban office parks feeling like the world’s saddest badass.

  16. June 6, 2012 4:18 pm

    It’s a shame they didn’t dig a rail tunnel under Cesar Chavez during all this sewer construction. There really needs to be some transit running from 3rd to Noe. It could tie the T and the J-Church together.

    • June 6, 2012 4:34 pm

  17. spike permalink
    June 7, 2012 12:49 am

    Once again, Sea Cliff is totally neglected.

    • killflash permalink
      June 7, 2012 7:38 am

      Sea Cliff people would rather drive their bimmers than be caught dead on public transportation

  18. June 9, 2012 10:09 am

    You folks are delusional. There’s no money for any extension of the Central Subway, which, in the first place, is a political deal disguised as a transportation project. Rose Pak and Willie Brown cooked up the dumb Central Subway to buy off Chinatown to compensate for its loss of the Embarcadero freeway. The city is spending at least $123 million on this project—the rest is provided by the state and the feds—to pay for this boondoggle.

    • June 9, 2012 11:38 am

      Just wait until you see our plans for the Geary-19th-Ocean-Excelsior-Van Ness line!

    • alocalsewerhistorian permalink
      November 11, 2012 10:27 am

      well, i have an alternative plan for central subway: turn it into a huge sewer tunnel! I expect they will get the tunneling 45% completed, no stations even started and fed.funds will get cut. we can put pumps in the stockton st. station whole and use it to store sewage…
      I’m willing to pay muni $0.40 on the dollar…

  19. Mig permalink
    June 9, 2012 1:18 pm

    Subways are inspiring and all, but this would be money and political capital better spent on upgrading all of our major bus lines with dedicated lanes, wider stop spacing, signal priority, nicer buses, etc., so that any important line in the city is reliable and quick. Think about it: what would you rather have, a few gleaming subway lines or a 22, 38L, 28L, 14L, 24, N, etc., that all travel faster and arrive more frequently. Just saying, if we’re fantasizing, let’s talk real possibilities, and then go make it happen.

  20. withak30 permalink
    June 9, 2012 2:11 pm

    I would be willing to donate a good number of hard hats and vests for volunteer TBM operators.

  21. June 20, 2012 5:49 pm

    This is all well and good, but the moving staircases in the stations are all back ordered untill 2112

  22. April 26, 2013 6:22 pm

    May also need to trim out the tunnel by blasting with Hercules or Safety Nitro or Giant brand dynamites, all made here 100 years ago!

  23. September 12, 2013 12:31 pm

    Re: The geary st line. Lets take it south under the park and down Sunset. :-)


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