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San Franciscans Envision New Subways -- Lots and Lots of Them

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Thomas Wright, a Tenderloin resident, sketches his idea for where new city subway lines should run. (Ericka Cruz Guevarra/KQED)

San Francisco transportation planners will review over 2,500 maps drawn by city residents and transit riders to help create an expanded subway system in the city.

The Subway Vision initiative is part of Connect SF, an effort to develop a long-range plan for transportation in the city.

"As professionals, we've all really looked hard at what we can do to make the network work better in San Francisco. We do know that sometimes we will miss some really great ideas," said Peter Albert, manager of Connect SF. "These conversations always point out some new angle or some element we may not have considered."

The effort involves the San Francisco Planning Department, Municipal Transportation Agency and the county Transportation Authority. It grows out of a 2015 ordinance -- championed by Supervisor Scott Wiener -- that calls for a new subway master plan.

To map out that vision, the agencies asked San Francisco residents to draw maps of where they'd like to see subway lines built.

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Connect SF launched a website where San Francisco residents could use interactive tools to mark where they'd like to see new subway stations and lines.

The project also organized pop-up events over the last two weeks in the Bayview, Excelsior and Tenderloin districts where residents could mark up maps.

"We've asked for people to be creative, so we want to honor that and make sure we're looking at all those submissions for things that we as planners, who are maybe a little too close to the problem, aren't seeing," said SFMTA principal planner Grahm Satterwhite at the Tenderloin pop-up on Tuesday.

Albert says many residents have shown interest in building lines from the Richmond District all the way to North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf.

"If you think about where we run subways now, there really are only two subway lines in the city," Albert said. "What I hear is that people are recognizing that that is moving a lot of people quickly, and they wish that they could have that quality of service in other parts of San Francisco."

Ramon Quintero works for a low-income housing developer in the Tenderloin. He drew a map that went from his home in Oakland to his workplace in the Tenderloin. He says he's sure that his dream map won't be implemented, but he thinks that getting this kind of community feedback is important.

"These projects are so big and there's so much money going into them that you're going to affect the community as a whole," Quintero said.

Paula Fleisher stopped by the pop-up at Boeddeker Park in the Tenderloin, where she says neighborhood outreach is rare. Fleisher, who works for UCSF's Community Engagement and Health Policy Program, said she's glad she got the chance to share her thoughts. But she also thinks there needs to be not just a pop-up, but a sit-down.

"I would hope to see something build from this ... going from a table on the corner to actually a community forum and ongoing meetings and engagements," Fleisher said. "Maybe this is the start of something more engaged and deeper, where more conversations could happen."

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