SF’s Brand New “Central Subway” Fully Opens Jan. 7th
On Saturday, January 7, the T Third starts its historic new route, providing a direct Metro connection between Sunnydale and Chinatown-Rose Pak Station.
Service runs Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to midnight every 10 minutes and Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to midnight every 12 minutes. The new T Third line vastly improves transportation to and from some of San Francisco’s most densely populated areas and major shopping corridors, expanding transit options and new connections.
The new T Third route will travel north to the new Central Subway from 4th & King platform. It will no longer turn onto King Street or run along the Embarcadero and the Market Street subway. Also, the K Ingleside will now travel between Balboa Park and Embarcadero Station.
Customers traveling to stops along the Embarcadero, the baseball stadium at 2nd and King streets should transfer to the N Judah. Customers should transfer at Powell Station to Union Square/Market Street Station for the T Third going to Sunnydale.
To transfer to the new T Third at Union Square/Market Street Station from the J Church, K Ingleside, M Ocean View, N Judah or BART at Powell Station, you can connect entirely underground. From the Powell Station platforms, take the elevator or follow signs to concourse level, then follow signs to Union Square/Market Street Station.
Customers on the T Third connecting to other Muni Metro routes or BART should follow signs on the Union Square/Market Street Station platform toward Stockton/Ellis streets.
Navigating the Union Square/Market Street Station
The new Central Subway stations have many new features, including long escalators – the longest in the United States west of the Mississippi – and two glass elevators at every level for more accessibility.
Customers who need to use the elevators to the platform should bypass the fare gates near the street entrances at Union Square/Market Street Station. Instead, use the fare gates in the center of the concourse.
MuniMobile and Lifeline customers may use any fare gate at the Union Square/Market Street Station.
Special Chase Center Event Service
During events at Chase Center, the SFMTA will run special event service about every 10 minutes in addition to normal T Third service. The additional special event trains – with “S Shuttle Mission Bay” head signs – will serve all stops between Chinatown-Rose Pak Station and UCSF/Chase Center. From end to end the ride takes only 20 minutes. Best of all, your event ticket is your Muni fare. No additional Muni fare is needed.
Customers traveling past Chase Center during this special event service should check train head signs and only board “T Third” trains for a one-seat ride to their destination.
Q: How is service changing on January 7?
A: On January 7, 2023, the new T Third route will start with service from Chinatown-Rose Pak to Sunnydale via Central Subway. The T Third will continue north at 4th and King streets and connect to the new Central Subway stations instead of turning onto King Street and running along the Embarcadero and the Market Street subway.
The K Ingleside will no longer be combined with the T Third but will continue its regular route between Balboa Park and Embarcadero Station. Customers traveling to stops along the Embarcadero, the baseball stadium at 2nd and King streets and Caltrain should transfer to the N Judah. Customers going to Sunnydale should transfer at Powell Station to Union Square/Market Street Station for the T Third.
Special weekend service during November and December 2022 gave customers a chance to preview the new stations ahead of the January 7 permanent service change.
New Connections and Wayfinding
To get to Chinatown:If you’re already on the T Third, stay on! If you’re on another Metro route or BART, transfer at Powell Station. Go up to the concourse level and exit the fare gates but stay inside the station and follow signs and Ambassadors toward “Central Subway” to the Union Square/Market Street Station. At Union Square/Market Street Station, board T Third trains northbound to Chinatown-Rose Pak Station.
To get to 4th & King (Caltrain):
- Starting January 7, 2023, the new T Third will run between Sunnydale and Chinatown and continue to serve 4th & King.
- The N Judah will also continue to serve 4th & King next to the Caltrain depot.
- The K Ingleside will run between Balboa Park and Embarcadero Station. Customers will need to transfer to the T Third or N Judah.
To get to UCSF/Chase Center, Mission Bay, Potrero, Bayview, Visitacion Valley and Sunnydale:Use the new T Third between Sunnydale and Chinatown-Rose Pak Station. J Church, K Ingleside, L Taraval Bus, M Ocean View and N Judah customers should transfer from Powell Station to the new T Third at Union Square/Market Street Station.
- Special event shuttles will run along the new T Third route as additional service during events at Chase Center. Trains will be marked S Shuttle Mission Bay. Customers traveling past Chase Center should check the train head sign to be sure it says “T Third.”
To get the BART from the new T Third: To connect to BART from the new T Third line via Central Subway, get off at Union Square/Market Street Station and walk underground to Powell Station, which is served by both Muni and BART.
To get to stops along the Embarcadero (at Folsom and Brannan streets) and 2nd & King (Oracle Park): The N Judah will continue to serve these stops. T Third customers should transfer at Union Square/Market Street Station to Powell Station. All other Metro customers should catch the N Judah at any Market Street Subway stop between Van Ness and Embarcadero stations.
To get to other regional transit like SamTrans and AC Transit:The best option is to connect at the Salesforce Transit Center on Beale Street between Mission and Howard streets, approximately a block south of Embarcadero Station. From the new T Third line via Central Subway, transfer at Union Square/Market Street Station to Powell Station and take any Muni Metro route to Embarcadero station. All other Metro routes will continue to serve Embarcadero Station.
Q: How long do customers have to make a transfer before being charged again?
A: 2 hours. Plenty of time to navigate between Powell Station and Union Square/Market Street Station! But note that during special weekend service, rides in Central Subway are free. Starting January 7 customers will need to tag into the fare gates.
Q: What’s the best way to connect to Powell Station from Union Square/Market Street Station?
A: If you are accessing Union Square/Market Street Station on Muni, exit the train and look for signage on the platform toward Ellis Street. Go up to the concourse level and look for additional signage toward Powell Station, J, K, N, M.
Q: How do I know which side of the platform to board at Chinatown-Rose Pak Station?
A: Trains may enter and exit from both sides of the platform at Chinatown-Rose Pak Station. Displays will show train departure times. This is different from other Muni Metro stations. Customers should look at the displays on either side to see which train will depart soonest and listen for audio announcements.
In Union Square/Market Street Station and Yerba Buena/Moscone Station, signs indicate the direction and destination of the trains on either side of the platform, such as “Southbound, Sunnydale” and “Northbound, Chinatown.”
Q: The stairs and escalators are long! Is there an alternative?
The new Central Subway stations are very deep! They have some of the longest stairways in the country. The stairs and escalators can feel daunting for some. Please hold on to the railings when using the stairs, take your time and move safely. Remember to stand to the right and walk on the left on the escalators.
Elevators are also an option, especially for customers with strollers, luggage or groceries. In Chinatown-Rose Pak Station, the elevators from the concourse to street level are located near the ticket machines. In Yerba Buena/Moscone Station the concourse to street elevators are located to the right when exiting the fate gates. In Union Square/Market Street Station the concourse to street elevators are in the middle of the concourse with a dedicated fare gate.
We will also be adding multilingual and accessible labels to the elevator buttons in all the stations.
Q: How do I get to Caltrain from West Portal?
A: Take any Metro route eastbound at West Portal, exit at Powell Station, transfer underground to the new Central Subway Union Square/Market Street Station and take the T Third southbound four stops to 4th & King.
Alternately, take any Metro route eastbound at West Portal to Powell Station. Exit at Powell Station to street level, walk east to 4th and Market streets (about four minutes) and catch the 30 Stockton or 45 Union/Stockton in front of Trader Joe’s on 4th Street.
Q: How do the rail changes affect my bus route?
A: This change in Muni Metro service does not affect Muni bus routes. However, the new T Third provides a new alternative to multiple bus routes that also serve the SoMa/Union Square/Chinatown areas. These include the 8 Bayshore, 8AX Bayshore Express A, 8 BX Bayshore Express B, 15 Bayview Hunter’s Point Express, 30 Stockton and 45 Union/Stockton.
Q: How will the new T Third affect service in Bayview?
A: Many Muni routes will continue to serve the Bayview, Dogpatch, Visitacion Valley neighboring areas, including the T Third, 8 Bayshore, 8AX Bayshore Express A, 8BX Bayshore Express B, and 15 Bayview Hunters Point Express. Starting January 7, the T Third Metro line will run between Sunnydale and Chinatown via Central Subway, providing a more direct trip with fewer stops to SoMa, Union Square and Chinatown, and it will continue to serve Chase Center.
At 4th and King streets the T Third will continue northbound and will no longer run along King Street, the Embarcadero or the Market Street subway tunnel. For service to Oracle Park, the Embarcadero and the Market Street subway, customers can transfer to the N Judah at Powell, Embarcadero or 4th and King streets near Caltrain.
To connect to BART from the new T Third line via Central Subway, riders should get off at Union Square/Market Street Station and walk underground to Powell Station, which is served by both Muni and BART.
Q: Was there public outreach about these service changes, the new stations and connections?
A: Yes! Since October 2022 the SFMTA has taken the following steps to communicate Central Subway service changes:
- Dozens of multilingual community workshops and presentations
- Informational emails to community-based partners with maps, links to resources and sample newsletter materials.
- Multilingual print materials delivered to community-based organizations prioritizing equity, seniors, people with disabilities and neighborhoods directly impacted by the changes
- Over 10 dedicated blogs and a dedicated webpage
- Multilingual print ads in all San Francisco neighborhood newspapers, social media ads and internet banner ads
- Multilingual posters at Muni stops and along key commercial corridors served by the K Ingleside and T Third
- Multilingual car cards and information cards in Muni vehicles
- Multilingual hangers in Muni light rail vehicles
- Multilingual ambassadors providing directions, answering questions and passing out over 16,000 multilingual handouts along impacted Muni routes
- Language cheat-sheets for monolingual Ambassadors
- A multilingual recorded presentation online
- A multilingual wayfinding video
And we’re not done yet. Ambassadors will continue to provide assistance to customers through February 2023.