For the past decade, the transit center that will replace San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal has been the subject of grand plans and political controversies, struggles to stay on schedule and squabbles over costs. Next weekend, all that changes.
On Aug. 12, transbay bus service will begin at the $2.16 billion Transbay Transit Center, which stretches nearly three blocks between Beale and Second streets, just south of Mission Street. East Bay commuters entering the city by bus will travel traffic-free above downtown streets from the Bay Bridge into an elevated concourse.
The new station should also attract Bay Area residents and visitors who never ride a bus. For them, the lure is a 5.4-acre park that fills the roof above the concourse: Eight distinct gardens ring a long, oval path. Within the park is everything from a picnic meadow and a children’s play area to a two-story restaurant with a terrace 80 feet in the air.
There’s plenty else up in the air, figuratively speaking, including such questions as whether commuter trains will ever find their way to the transit center, and whether the rooftop park will be marred by the open drug use and disturbing behavior that now make some downtown blocks seem unsafe. Or, as planners and boosters hope, it will become the busy centerpiece of the new high-rise district around it.