Last Friday the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported that the Transbay Joint Powers Authority would likely pursue a two station solution as a means to resolve the capacity restraints of the new terminal. This compromise would prevent the redesign and added cost of adding a second story to the new terminal by allowing eight trains per hour to arrive at the Transbay Terminal and four per hour to arrive at the existing Fourth and King Station.
Some blogs have voiced support for this idea and others have mixed feelings. However, a new Transbay Tube would negate the need for the added turnaround capacity. Even under the current ridership expectations projected by the California High Speed Rail Authority it would take two decades to reach the capacity restraints of the Transbay Terminal. Given that HSR is one day so successful that it needs all of the capacity at the new terminal and then some; wouldn’t it make sense to then expand the system to the East Bay where most of the population in the Bay Area lives anyway?
Besides, if HSR does reach the capacity restraints of the Transbay Terminal how are more people supposed to get to the terminal during these peak hours? The projected ridership is not based on San Francisco’s sub one million population, it is based on the over seven million people who live in the Bay Area. The only way to reach this terminal for most people in the Bay Area, without completely circumnavigating the South Bay, would involve either a trip on BART or a trip across the Bay Bridge, but these facilities are already congested during the peak hours at issue with Transbay Terminal.
With the success of HSR will come the simultaneous strain on BART and the Bay Bridge. This would create the perfect political climate to build a new tube. This is the logical solution. This is what the MTC and CHSRA should be focusing on.