The San Francisco Municipal Public Transportation Agency plans to extend public transportation to funnel the influx of foot traffic during the America’s Cup races summer 2013, with test runs of the new lines this summer according to SFMTA Urban Planning Initiatives Manager Peter Albert.
“The goal is to avoid congestion on the waterfront, giving people the right information and giving them incentives to come in anything but a car,” Albert said. “Safety becomes the issue with hundreds of thousands of people coming to the races.”
Changes include implementing bike rental stations where people with a membership may rent, ride and drop off bikes at certain destinations. A new bike lane by the waterfront will also be installed along with supplementary car garages and additional bus stops.
Old trains and tracks will be brought back into action for a new E line that will run from Caltrain to Fisherman’s Wharf, according to SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
“We’re planning to start running later this year before the races in 2012 on the existing tracks we have in place and using our historic street cars,” Rose said.
According to Albert, the costs of such an expansion will total $20 to $30 million, an end that will be met by fundraising and contributions from America’s Cup supporters.
“This is barely enough to do all the things we need to do with the plan,” said Albert, who penned a document called the People’s Plan, which included all changes needed during the summer yacht races.
Despite the cost, the event and additional ease of access is expected to impact local job creation and boost the city’s economy, creating lasting improvements to the transportation sector.
Even with the additional train lines looming in the horizon, some still believe public transportation to be more difficult than driving.
SF State junior and broadcast and electronic communication arts major Hailey Johnson drives to her job in Pier 39 and doesn’t believe that will change with transportation improvements.
“Honestly I would still probably drive,” said Johnson, who regularly pays $10 to $15 in parking fees.
Regardless of how San Francisco natives feel about the impending America’s Cup and the changes to come with it, whether these changes will drastically alter the flow of traffic has yet to be seen. Ultimately the changes are projected to positively effect the economy.
“We also believe that this will be an economic engine creating 8,000 jobs and bring as much as $1 billion to the Bay Area economy,” Albert said. “It should be a very good thing for San Francisco.”