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New Transbay Terminal Brings New Costs For The Public

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- Evening commuters will use San Francisco's new Transbay Terminal for the first time on Monday night. The brand new $2 billion transit center is big, bold and is a new landmark in the city, but it will require a lot of funding for upkeep and operational costs.

"We have a lot of janitors, a lot of security, a lot of building engineers," said Mark Zabaneh, the Executive Director of Transbay Authority.

Gardeners are employed to maintain the four-block-long rooftop park. There are almost 70 to 80 total employees on staff at the new transit center, according to Zabeneh.

Once utilities and other expenses are added in, it will cost roughly $25 million a year to keep the lights on and the doors open while keeping the center running smoothly.

Zabeneh named overall cleanliness of the transit center as an important priority, focusing on watering of plants, irrigation infrastructure, and upkeep of landscaping.

The trouble so far is that the retail space at the center of the terminal, which is supposed to help relieve the immense costs, still remains empty. The center will need about $13 million a year in assistance. The thousands of toll payers on the seven Bay Area bridges will help pick up the tab.

The costs per rider sum up to around $1,333 a year in subsidies for each rider (whether AC Transit or Muni) using the station.

Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission wasn't worried about the costs, saying that they were not really high by most transit standards.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimated that toll payers across the Bay Area are already subsidizing bus service at about $1,576 per year for each AC Transit bus rider, $2,536 per year for each SamTrans rider, and $2,999 per year for each rider on the South Bay's VTA light rail service.

"Look, almost nothing in public transportation pays for itself," said Rentschler.

Golden Gate Bridge district buses are supposed to be operating to the transit center starting next month, but those buses don't often drop people off to the area around the Transbay Terminal.  KPIX 5 monitored SamTrans buses on Monday and noticed that they have been operating more on the city streets and not within the transit center itself.

Toll payers pay the price hoping that there will be less cars lining up at toll plazas as more people are inclined to take public transportation. However, the backups to the Bay Bridge on Monday night can be expected to be as bad as ever during the first evening commute for the new Transbay Terminal.



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