The latest grand plan for a second Transbay Tube would have cost at least $29 billion and wouldn’t have been completed until around 2040, and now regional transit planners are backing off the idea of building that new tube.
The Bay Area transit pipe dream of a second Transbay Tube has been floating around for years, but seemed to be really picking up steam in 2021 with a connected rail “megaregion” plan called Link21 (named as such because it would connect 21 northern California counties). The ongoing Link21 planning and weighing of possibilities got transit fans all hot and bothered last autumn, when they released several possible maps for a second Transbay tube plan.
Another transbay rail crossing has been discussed for decades. But ridership on BART and other Bay Area rail agencies has declined dramatically since the pandemic, and planners say that the project won't generate enough ridership to justify the cost. https://t.co/zrpgaun7Om— San Francisco Chronicle (@sfchronicle) March 1, 2023
“Building two new crossings — one for BART and one for regional rail — is not cost effective for the amount of demand we’re anticipating,” Link21 planner Chester Fung said in a Tuesday Link21 committee meeting, per the Chronicle. “So we will be advancing concepts with only BART or only regional rail in the crossing.”
There is still the possibility of some sort of “Transbay Rail Crossing” that goes across the Bay. The image above shows one of these concepts (the crossing could go above or beneath the water) and there are five other concepts shown in a scroll down menu on the Link21 website. That site is still promoting the idea of “a new passenger rail crossing of the San Francisco Bay and other improvements.”
But BART has plenty of its own problems these days, with the Chron estimating their ridership is currently only 40% of pre-pandemic levels, and that “Updated ridership projections by BART show ridership at about 49% of pre-pandemic levels by 2025.” Plus they’re looking at an estimated $300 million deficit, and may be asking voters to approve more money the system. Asking for money while working on huge expensive projects is a tough sell, and BART already has its plate full with a different huge expensive project in the BART San Jose extension, which currently has its own respective $9 billion price tag and is not expected to be completed until 2034.
Related: Check ‘Em Out! We Have Our First Renderings of the Second Transbay Tube [SFist]
Image: Eric Fischer via Wikimedia Commons