SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco’s Chinatown now has a subway station.
The long-awaited debut took place on Saturday morning during a ceremony that begins with a prayer to bless the new stop: Chinatown Rose Pak Station. It honors the woman known for her activism in making Chinatown what it is today.
According to former SF Mayor Willie Brown, this includes the plan to open the downtown subway.
“We celebrate the Rose Pak Station, we celebrate the central metro,” said the former mayor. “San Francisco continues to be a living example of how you need to and how you can get things done. We just didn’t do it at the right speed. I wish we could have finished it before Rose moved on.”
Pak passed away in 2016, but her legacy lives on through the Central Subway—a four-stop underground train that connects Chinatown to Union Square and the Bayview.
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“It literally moves Chinatown 10-15 minutes closer to the East Bay,” said SFMTA Director Jeff Tumlin. “You’ll be able to take the BART at Powell Station and go to Chinatown. You’ll save 15-20 stops on the trip from the Peninsula to the Caltrain station.”
Before 8 a.m. Saturday, Chinatown city leaders and community members boarded the first train. They said that after decades of planning, construction and billions of dollars, the modern-looking subway ran smoothly.
“It’s kind of a no-brainer,” said Ryan Yu, who works daily in Chinatown.
“This project took a while. It’s good to see it finished.”
“It’s important for the Chinese community because we have a lot of people who don’t drive,” said Jennifer Cheung, a local community activist.
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“It’s hard to find parking, so public transport is important.”
The party ended with fireworks and traditional Chinese dances.
With cameras on every corner and about a dozen inside the trains, the Central Metro is expected to be the safest transit line in the city.
“Residents will benefit,” said state Sen. Scott Weiner. “It will be easier to get around. Small businesses will benefit because it will be easier to access.”
The Central Metro will remain open every weekend from 8 am to midnight. It will operate seven days a week and will officially connect to Muni’s T line starting January 7.