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Crosscurrents

San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center to finally open—without trains

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Eli Wirtschafter
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KALW News
The Transbay Transit Center connects MUNI, AC Transit, and other bus lines, and features a 3-block-long rooftop park.

The Transbay Transit Center in downtown San Francisco finally opens this weekend.

It was supposed to be the “Grand Central Station of the West,” connecting buses, BART, Caltrain, and high-speed rail. But so far, it’s a $2.1 billion bus stop with a green roof.

The lower levels of the center, designed for trains, will stay empty for at least another decade.

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Credit Eli Wirtschafter / KALW News
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KALW News
Construction on new high-rises surrounds the Transbay Transit Center. San Francisco sold nearby land to developers to help finance the over-budget project.

It will take at least a decade, and $4 billion before Caltrain and High-Speed Rail reach the station, if that ever happens at all.

As the project’s budget and timeline grew, officials pursued innovative ways to fund the terminal. San Francisco sold nearby land to high-rise developers and used the proceeds to finance the project.

The terminal, which is across the street from the Salesforce Tower, is officially known as the Salesforce Transit Center. The tech company paid $110 million to put their name on the building.

"Under the transit center is basically a big, empty, concrete box."

KALW’s Hana Baba and Eli Wirtschafter paid a visit to the new Transbay Transit Center.