SFO: San Francisco International Airport
PORT: Port of San Francisco
SFCTA: San Francisco County Transit Authority
Caltrain: Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board
TJPA: Transbay Joint Powers Authority
Investments in public transportation enhance the mobility of all residents and improve equitable access to workplaces, schools, essential services, and cultural and recreational activities. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the important role that local, regional, and global transportation networks play in San Francisco’s economy and social fabric. Transportation will continue to be critical in the region’s economic recovery. In addition, in order to meet climate action goals of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, action is needed to shift to less carbon intensive and efficient modes of transportation such as transit, bicycling and walking.
This chapter describes projects and programs to improve San Francisco’s transportation systems, mitigate losses due to the COVID-19 crisis, and build resilience in the sector over the next ten years. It is critical that San Francisco takes care of our transportation needs so that the city remains accessible and livable for generations to come.
San Francisco sits at the center of the Bay Area, both geographically and economically. To support residents, workers, and visitors, the City maintains a vast system of transportation infrastructure ranging from cross-town buses and Muni trains to the San Francisco International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States. Regional transportation assets, including Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and Caltrain also run through the city, connecting San Francisco to the surrounding counties.
San Francisco is also in the midst of implementing several major capital initiatives that will improve its transportation system for years to come. From Better Market Street, bus rapid transit (BRT) lines on major thoroughfares, and terminal expansions at the Airport, San Francisco is adding capacity that will dramatically improve mobility.
San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) manages all City-owned ground transportation infrastructure. Related operations include running the San Francisco Municipal Railway (Muni), managing parking and traffic, facilitating bicycling and walking, regulating taxis, and planning and implementing strategic community-based projects to improve the transportation network and prepare for the future.
The SFMTA has a number of short-term and long-term processes in place to identify and prioritize its capital projects. Once every two years the SFMTA develops its own fiscally unconstrained Capital Plan, last published in 2021, to identify needs for projects and programs over the next 20 years. This Capital Plan is overseen by the Transportation Capital Committee, which is comprised of representatives from all the agency’s functional divisions. This identifies the agency’s capital investment needs and establishes priority investments. Over the next ten years, the SFMTA’s total capital need is approximately $5.8 billion.
This chapter summarizes SFMTA’s capital needs at a high level. For a detailed description of SFMTA’s capital projects, please see the SFMTA’s published plans at SFMTA Reports and Documents.
San Francisco International Airport
Owned by the City and County of San Francisco, and located within unincorporated San Mateo County, the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) manages a large and diverse infrastructure portfolio that includes four runways, 105 operational gates, and four terminals that total 5.7 million square feet. SFO also oversees 32 miles of roadways, five public parking garages with several employee garages, the AirTrain transit system, a rental car facility, a 351-room hotel, leased cargo and maintenance facilities, a waste treatment plant, and more than 274 miles of pipelines, ducts, power, and pump stations for water, sewage, storm drainage, industrial waste, and gas, in addition to electrical and telecommunications distribution systems.
SFO staff periodically develop and update a plan for redevelopment, improvement, and expansion of SFO facilities. The plan is reviewed and approved by the Airport Commission. Currently, capital reporting and spending is tracked to the SFO’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) totaling $7.76 billion, which was approved in April 2022. The CIP consists of: (1) the $7.3 billion Ascent Program – Phase I (Ascent Program); and (2) the $492 million Rolling CIP, which addresses both current emerging needs and those related to replacement of aging infrastructure. A major objective of SFO’s current CIP is to meet increased infrastructure demands driven by passenger growth. However, in response to the pandemic’s disruption on operations and revenue, several projects were suspended and are being reactivated based on key indicators that show economic recovery.
SFO was ranked the nineteenth busiest airport in the United States in terms of enplaned passengers in FY2021, down from eleventh in FY2020, and seventh in FY2019. International and corporate business travel was restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics, impacting traffic through SFO. As the region recovers from the consequences of the pandemic, airport staff have been tracking air travel recovery. SFO remains the busiest airport in the Bay Area and Northern California and accounted for 58% of the total scheduled departing seats, domestic and international, at Bay Area airports in FY2021.
SFO’s Capital Plan identifies $2.1 billion in infrastructure needs through FY2033.
This chapter contains a high-level summary of SFO’s capital needs. For a more in-depth description of capital projects, please see the five-year and 10-year Capital Plans published on the Airport’s website: flysfo.com.
Port of San Francisco
The Port of San Francisco is the hub of the local and regional commuter, special event, and tourist water transportation network in the Bay Area. The Port constructs and provides land and water areas to support ferries and excursion vessels that are operated by external agencies such as the Water Emergency Transit Agency (WETA) and the Golden Gate Bridge and Ferry District. Though it does not operate any such vessels itself, the Port works in close collaboration with these critical agencies. The expansion of both publicly and privately operated ferries has reduced congestion in the Bay Area while continuing to build an emergency response network.
San Francisco County Transportation Authority
The San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) is the sub-regional transportation planning and programming agency for the City. The SFCTA is responsible for the City’s long-range transportation planning, coordinating with federal, state, and other local transportation agencies. In this capacity, SFCTA helps to plan, fund, and deliver improvements for San Francisco's roadway and public transportation networks. The SFCTA is funded through a combination of local funds including San Francisco Sales Tax revenues and Vehicle Registration Fees, as well as grants from the State of California and the federal government.
Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (Caltrain)
San Francisco, along with San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, is a representative member of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (JPB), which operates and maintains Caltrain, one of the oldest commuter rail services in Northern California. Caltrain provides peak and off-peak connections along the Peninsula rail corridor between San Francisco and Gilroy. Per the 1996 Joint Powers Agreement, funding for system-wide capital improvements are shared equally among the three member counties, while local improvements are, in general, borne by the county in which the improvements are located. More information on the JPB’s future projects and programs can be found at Caltrain Project Plans.
Transbay Joint Powers Authority
The Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) was created to manage the financing, design, development, construction, and operation of the Transbay Program, including the Salesforce Transit Center and the Caltrain Downtown Extension (DTX). Phase One of the Transbay Program included constructing the Salesforce Transit Center, a $2.2 billion modern transit hub that replaces the seismically deficient terminal in downtown San Francisco.
Now complete, the Salesforce Transit Center helps to unify a fractured regional transportation network by connecting eight Bay Area counties and the State of California through 11 transit systems: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, Muni, SamTrans, WestCAT Lynx, Amtrak, Paratransit, and the future California High-Speed Rail. The project is split in two phases. Phase 1 saw the opening of the Salesforce Transit Center in August 2018; Phase 2 encompasses construction of the Caltrain Downtown Extension, a new Fourth and Townsend Street Caltrain station, the Transit Center’s train station and pedestrian connection to BART and Muni, and a new intercity bus facility.
A related effort overseen by San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure will create a new mixed-use transit-oriented neighborhood surrounding the Transit Center. For more information on this neighborhood development, please refer to the Office of Community Infrastructure and Investment Section in the Economic and Neighborhood Development chapter of this Plan.
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Since its opening in 1972, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) has become essential to the mobility, economy, and livability of the Bay Area for riders and non-riders alike. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, BART carried 440,000 passengers on a typical weekday. Pre-COVID forecasts suggested that demand for BART would increase with the region, growing to 600,000 daily riders by 2040. Ridership during the pandemic declined steeply, but has begun to recover, with over 150,000 weekday riders in the fall of 2022. As recovery occurs, capital projects at BART continue to address the system’s aging infrastructure and improving the rider experience.
BART improvements within San Francisco will include ADA compliance projects to improve accessibility, station modernizations, and escalator replacements.