Project Overview


The Central Subway Project will construct a modern, efficient light-rail line that will improve public transportation in San Francisco. This new 1.7-mile extension of Muni’s T Third Line will provide direct connections to major retail, sporting and cultural venues while efficiently transporting people to jobs, educational opportunities and other amenities throughout the city. With stops in South of Market (SoMa), Yerba Buena, Union Square and Chinatown, the Central Subway will vastly improve transit options for the residents of one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the country, provide a rapid transit link to a burgeoning technology and digital-media hub, and improve access to a premier commercial district and tourist attraction.

The Central Subway Project is the second phase of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s (SFMTA) Third Street Light Rail Transit Project. Phase 1 of the project constructed a 5.1-mile light-rail line along the densely populated 3rd Street corridor. The first segment of the T Third Line opened to customers in April 2007, restoring light-rail service to a high transit-ridership area of San Francisco for the first time in 50 years.

Phase 2, the Central Subway Project, will extend the T Third Line from the 4th Street Caltrain Station to Chinatown, providing a direct, rapid transit link from the Bayshore and Mission Bay areas to SoMa, Union Square and downtown. Four new stations will be built along the 1.7-mile Central Subway Project alignment:

  • 4th and Brannan Station at 4th and Brannan streets (street level)
  • Yerba Buena/Moscone Station at 4th and Folsom streets (subway)
  • Union Square/Market Street Station on Stockton Street at Union Square (subway)
  • Chinatown Station at Stockton and Washington streets (subway)

The Central Subway Project will contribute greatly to San Francisco’s economic competitiveness and help secure the city’s status as a regional, national and global hub. It will provide a clean, pollution-free transit alternative that will reduce the environmental impact of transportation in our city, save natural resources, reduce traffic congestion and improve transportation options for an underserved area of San Francisco. 

Project Benefits

The project will provide many benefits for SFMTA customers, San Franciscans and visitors, including:

  • Improving customers’ quality of life through decreased travel time and increased mobility
  • Connecting local communities by serving residents, visitors, museum goers, convention attendees, shoppers and workers
  • Increasing transit capacity to relieve crowding
  • Reducing air and noise pollution
  • Improving regional connections to Caltrain, BART, Muni and future high-speed rail at 4th and King streets
  • Relieving surface congestion along the Stockton Street corridor
  • Encouraging development in SoMa along the 4th Street corridor 
  • Serving a low auto-ownership population of transit customers


The Third Street Light Rail Transit Project is the most significant capital investment in public transit in San Francisco in generations. About $648 million was invested in Phase 1 of the project, and an additional $1.6 billion is budgeted for Phase 2.

The majority of funding for the Central Subway Project will be provided by the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts program, with a total approved commitment of $942.2 million. A combination of federal, state and local sources will provide the remainder of the funds.

More information about project funding and the New Starts program can be found here.


The project has already achieved major project milestones, including attaining environmental clearance from the FTA and completing relocation of a number of utility lines to prepare for station construction and tunneling.

Construction of the subway tunnel and stations will commence in 2013 and continue through 2017. The Central Subway segment of the T Third Line is slated to open to the public in 2019. 

More details on the projected timeline are available here.

Additional Resources

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