San Francisco’s Train Terminal for Buses Only?

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 (Updated August 2, 2016)

The great train stations of the world are magical.  Bustling and cavernous they conjure up images of the past, of mobility and of freedom as people rush to trains bound for the mountains, a balmy beach or another country. Below are photographs of six famous international train stations.

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1.)  South Station, Boston

xpenn12.)  Penn Station, New York

xpaddingtonstation3.)  Paddington Station, London

xgrand-central-station4.)  Grand Central Station, New York 

xgaredunord5.)  Gare du Nord, Paris

6.)  Howrah Station, Howrah, India

But it’s not just the stations themselves that capture the imaginations of artists, photographers and writers throughout the world.  Even well designed stations come to life only when they fill with people.  The people who laid out and designed San Francisco’s new Transbay Terminal station a dozen years ago saw this.  The spaces in the new terminal are generous and filled with natural light during much of the day.  The many entrances are inviting and there’s a three acre public park on the roof.

Sadly, as illustrated by the photograph below, San Francisco’s below-grade train level stands forlorn and empty, waiting for trains that may not come for decades.

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Is this to be Mayor Lee’s Legacy to San Francisco?

San Francisco has fallen on hard times.  Beset by petty politics and shortsighted, developer-pleasing objectives, this city no longer seems to think big.  Instead of completing the long-awaited, fast train connection between Silicon Valley and San Francisco, City officials bow to the get rich quick schemes of well-connected developers.

Has San Francisco’s chance to host the most important nexus of public transit systems in western North America been eclipsed by a desperate grab for Mission Bay development land?  So it would seem.

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