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Open for Business: Salesforce Transit Center

Karl Nielsen

The Salesforce Transit Center celebrated its long-awaited Grand Opening in a grand way over the weekend, starting with a Friday formal ribbon-cutting 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 line-up 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. Also taking their turn at the dais were California assembly-members 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.

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 an 180-foot-long LED screen displaying scrolling digital text, an installation by artist Jenny Holzer.

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” 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.

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. Phase Two of the project will bring Caltrain and eventually California High-Speed Rail into the Transit Center and downtown San Francisco.

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