BART’s Tim Chan explained station plans and took comments from morning commuters at Balboa Park Station. Photo: Streetsblog.
This morning from 7 to 10 am BART officials, consultants, and even a legislative aide for Supervisor John Avalos’s office answered questions and heard comments from the public about plans to modernize Balboa Park Station, one of the busiest in both BART and Muni’s networks.
From BART’s webpage on the project:
The goal of the project is to develop and prioritize potential station improvements to upgrade and modernize the station’s function, safety and security, capacity, sustainability, appearance, and improve the customer experience. BART is also partnering with the City to identify plaza improvements to support the Upper Yard Affordable Housing Project.
It would be hard to argue that Balboa Park station doesn’t need improvements. A confluence of three Muni trains, seven buses, and the southernmost transfer station for four BART lines, it seems an obvious place for intense transit-oriented real estate development. But with I-280 on one side and a Muni Light Rail maintenance facility on the other, developing the area is challenging. “It doesn’t work for cars, pedestrians, or cyclists,” said Frances Hsieh, the legislative aide for Supervisor Avalos.
“It’s an aging station desperately in need of an upgrade,” said Tim Chan, manager of station planning and development for BART.
Members of the public who stopped by seemed to agree.
“It’s generally dirty and it feels unsafe,” said Edward Anaya, a lawyer who commutes through Balboa Park from his home in Excelsior. “There are walkability and safety issues competing with the traffic from I-280.”
Jennifer Heggie takes the bus from Sunnyside to pick up BART at Balboa. She said the station has already improved and it used to “smell like urine,” but she wishes there were a shelter on the Geneva side for people connecting to buses there. “It’s cold at night.”
Chan said that’s one of the things they want to fix, by adding “more weather protection” for people transferring between BART and Muni. They also want to “extend the canopies at the ends of the BART platforms” so people don’t have to bunch up when it’s raining.
Meanwhile, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development is working on the Upper Yard affordable housing project, planned across from the old car barn and powerhouse. It’s currently used as a parking lot.