Sparkling New Transbay Transit Center Debuts

The Salesforce Transit Center celebrated its long-awaited grand opening in a grand way last month, starting with a formal ribbon-cutting on Friday, August 10 before splashing out with a jam-packed Saturday public party, and culminating with Sunday inaugural Transbay bus service.

Thousands of visitors crowded the Grand Hall of the new Salesforce Transit Center on opening day. Photo by Karl Nielsen

BC STAFF REPORT

 

The Salesforce Transit Center celebrated its long-awaited grand opening in a grand way last month, starting with a formal ribbon-cutting on Friday, August 10 before splashing out with a jam-packed Saturday public party, and culminating with Sunday inaugural Transbay bus service.

 

On Friday, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown acted as master of ceremonies for a ceremonial ribbon-cutting that welcomed a prestigious lineup of speakers to the Transit Center, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and MTC Chair and Rohnert Park Councilmember Jake Mackenzie.

 

The ribbon-cutting was held in the Grand Hall, a bright hub that gleams all the way from its 20,000-square-foot terrazzo floor—an underfoot mural by artist Julie Chang featuring California birds and flowers—up to a four-story elliptical oculus skylight encircled by a 180-foot-long LED screen displaying scrolling digital text, an installation by artist Jenny Holzer.

 

Also celebrating the ribbon-cutting were California assemblymembers David Chiu (17th District) and Phil Ting (19th District), San Francisco Supervisor (and MTC Commissioner) Jane Kim, and representatives from the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, AC Transit, and the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. Even Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom made a brief appearance in the Grand Hall before the start of the program to congratulate project team members and colleagues.

 

On Saturday, the Grand Hall was packed with thousands of visitors who lined up around the block to access the elevators and escalators to the bus deck and 5.4-acre rooftop park. Once above street level, the excited throngs joined a block party-style opening celebration that included everything from food carts and craft beers to DJ sets and a free Zumba dance class to a Shakespeare scene sampler performed by the African American Shakespeare Company.

 

At the mid-level bus deck, transit agencies from around the Bay showcased a range of contemporary and vintage buses, spanning time from a fabulously retro pickle-and-mustard-colored 1958 Key System bus to a brand-new, double-decker AC Transit bus that could go into service on certain transbay routes by the end of this year.

 

A photo booth by the bus-only freeway ramp gave visitors a chance to have their picture taken with the cable-stayed bridge behind them. This dedicated access allows buses coming off the Bay Bridge to fly over traffic-snarled city streets and directly into the transit center, as they did starting on Sunday and continuing into the Monday morning commute on August 13.

 

The new transit hub was conceived as the “Grand Central Terminal of the West,” where a multitude of intercity bus lines with key intercity and trans-state rail systems will converge. In the future, Caltrain train service from the Peninsula and eventually California High-Speed Rail trains from Southern California are scheduled to serve the underground station at the Transit Center, which will incorporate a three-platform, six-track train station.

 

The original Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets opened in 1939 and was a regional transit hub for over 60 years. It was closed and demolished in 2010 to make way for the new world-class Transit Center, which was constructed over the last eight years under the direction of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA). While construction of the new Salesforce Transit Center took place, the temporary Transbay Terminal served more than a half-dozen transit systems.

 

The stunning design of the new center features a curvilinear filigree metal skin that undulates along the length of the terminal. The 1,400-foot-long rooftop linear park offers a variety of amenities, including an open-air amphitheater, gardens, trails, a children’s play space and a water feature that will synchronize with the movements of the buses below. A restaurant and cafe will open in the future, as will a gondola whisking visitors from the street level to the rooftop park.

 

At one million square feet, the center stretches three blocks, with four stories above ground and two stories below. The transit center will help ease traffic congestion, reduce pollution and make transit easier to use and more efficient.

 

MTC is a major funder of the Salesforce Transit Center, providing more than $360 million for the $2.3 billion project. The new Transit Center is located one block from the Temporary Terminal, bounded by Mission and Howard streets from Beale Street to Second Street.

       

More information is available at salesforcetransitcenter.com.

Opening day activities at the rooftop park included a free Zumba class. Photo by Karl Nielsen

LEFT: A new bus-only freeway ramp that includes a cable-stayed bridge will allow access to and from the Bay Bridge, avoiding rush hour traffic below. Photo by Noah Berger. RIGHT: The 5.4-acre rooftop park includes a large playground area for children. Photo by Karl Nielsen