Castro Muni to get a New Lift

New elevator will be first to go directly to the platform

A rendering of option one (of three) for a new elevator at Castro Station. Image: SFMTA
A rendering of option one (of three) for a new elevator at Castro Station. Image: SFMTA

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Taking a Muni elevator is a two-step process. First, one waits to get down to the mezzanine level to go to the fare gates. Then it takes a second elevator ride–and a second wait–to get down to the train platform.

In the era of cash fares and paper tickets, there was some logic to this, since most people needed to go to the clerk’s booth to pay the fare. But in the age of Clipper and electronic payment, the two step elevator is just an incredible waste of time. And it can mean the difference between catching and missing a train.

Matt Brezina, nam name
Matt Brezina, Jane Chan with SF Public Works, and Jamison Wieser check out the table model at the open house. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

That’s why the SFMTA is in the process of adding the system’s first elevator that will go directly from street to platform level, as part of a project to improve accessibility at Castro Station. “This isn’t required by the Americans with Disabilities Act,” explained Kelley McCoy, a spokeswoman for the project, at last night’s open house in the Eureka Valley Rec Center around the corner from the station. “We’re putting this in proactively.”

The $3 million project is also going to give the agency more ability to do repairs and overhauls–once the new elevator is installed, the existing elevator on the opposite side of Market can be repaired and updated without making the station inaccessible to the disabled. “This creates redundancy,” said McCoy.

Muni patrons who take the new elevator will be expected to pay their fare by tagging on board the train. They’ll also have the option of getting off the elevator at mezzanine level to pay their fare at the normal fare gates and/or to access the outbound train platform.

Future elevator location at Western end of platform
Future elevator location near the western end of the platform. Photo: Streetsblog/Rudick

“I’m glad the elevator project is happening,” said Jamison Wieser, a nearby resident who attended the meeting. A few years back, Wieser spent six months in a leg cast, so he understands what it means to be disabled. However, he said everyone will benefit, including families with small children and strollers. “One day you’ve got a whole bunch of groceries… it’s beneficial for everyone.”

Part of the project involves reducing the slope at Harvey Milk Plaza, to make it easier to get to the elevator in a wheelchair. The city is also planning to widen the sidewalk on the station side of Market Street to make it easier to transfer from buses.

The design takes advantage of the existing passageway over the station mezzanine, joining Castro and Collingwood Street. The passageway is perfectly situated so the elevator shaft lands next to the mezzanine level and the platform. SFMTA officials said some people requested they put the elevator on the opposite side of Castro Street, in Jane Warner Plaza, but they said that would miss the train platform which curves away from the plaza as it follows its alignment under Market Street.

Meanwhile, a wheelchair-bound attendee (she asked not to be named in this story) was concerned about the elevator’s placement over the western-most end of the platform, since the inbound trains stop on the eastern end. She anticipates using the new elevator, but is concerned about backtracking the length of the platform to board. “Why not have the train stop where the elevator lets out?” SFMTA officials said they would see if it’s possible to modify where the trains stop.

The new elevator will start construction in 2019-2020 and should take about a year to finish. It is being constructed independently of the larger Friends of Harvey Milk project, which is looking to upgrade the station plaza more generally.

SFMTA is asking the public to vote on three options for how the elevator shaft’s glass “skin” will look. Vote online on the project web page, or attend the next meeting, Monday, March 12, 6-8 p.m., also in the upstairs multipurpose room, Eureka Valley Rec. Center, 100 Collingwood Street, S.F.

  • crazyvag

    How about adding a clipper reader in the elevator?

  • I’ll be the first to say it…looks like the homeless/druggies getting a free ride.

  • It’s so frustrating that Bart doesn’t do this. Most hotel elevators require a room key to use it. Why don’t they do this with transit? Instead they inconvenience elevator riders to walk hundreds of feet out of the way to process their payment. Maybe if they made it a little less easy to not pay the fare, people riding for free wouldn’t be such a problem.

  • Bruce

    Oh great, another way for people to evade paying their fares. Meanwhile BART is actively taking steps to eliminate the “elevator loophole.”

  • Richard Mlynarik

    People riding transit for free by the mechamism of taking stinking slow un-maintained elevators isn’t “a problem”. (Nor boarding buses by the rear doors, nor riding trains from stations that have no $$$$$ fare gates at all.)

    OK, maybe it’s a problem in the same way as illegal immigrants stealing your precious bodily fluids is “a problem”.

    It’s an issue hardly worth thinking about, aside from doing occasional surveys to determine fare evasion levels (hint: ever zero, even when rent-seeking pig-fucking Willie-Brown-scam-abetted massive defense contractor scum like Cubic Systems are involved) and compariing the losses to the out of this world capital (billions! literally!) and operating (pork-tastic excess staffing) costs of “doing something” about “the problem”.

    Do the math, for God’s sake.
    Or speaking of math and God, think about something that is revenue positive, really dumb lowest-level-fruit stuff like reinstating Sunday parking meters, rather than fretting about how to spend millions to “save” pennies.

    Oh my God something must be done!

  • Hugh Shepard

    I’m not familiar with SF…….is there no alternative to taking the elevator at Castro station? Otherwise wouldn’t people who are not weelchair-bound (and don’t have strollers or suitcases) just take the stairs? Stairs are almost always faster than elevators unless the subway station is really deep. Also, why not just add turnstiles at the platform level in front of the elevator to stop fare-beaters? Or instead, why not just require you to tap your clipper card to make the elevator go to the platform level?

    Also, even in the area of electronic tickets, in subway systems worldwide it is not standard for there to be elevators that go directly to platforms and allow people to bypass turnstile barriers.

  • Yes. I asked at the meeting and the elevator will have a Clipper Card validator.

  • Sammy

    Couldn’t there be a round design that matches the elevator design on the
    North side of the plaza, and falls more in keeping with the overall
    design of the South side of the plaza where it is to be installed .. those square designs seem out of context .. they look out of place … https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7c5e47d73cb009f679edab3ad590abb294fbd44119e316c1b1f925bc1cbc286e.jpg

  • Yes it is a problem because it’s a huge inconvenience for people using the elevators to have to walk hundreds of feet out of their way just to process their ticket. It punishes people who need to use the elevators while making it easy for people to not pay.

    The only reason they don’t put fare gates at the elevators is because of institutional stupidity between Bart and Muni; the same reason they put up zoo cages around the stairs between Muni and Bart platforms. It’s unbelievable that people actually support making our transit system inconvenient and inefficient for passengers.

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Note: GJEL Accident Attorneys regularly sponsors coverage on Streetsblog San Francisco and Streetsblog California. Unless noted in the story, GJEL Accident Attorneys is not consulted for the content or editorial direction of the sponsored content. BART and Muni elevators, especially at the downtown and Mission Stations, are not places people go voluntarily, given the putrid smells and […]