The Transbay Program is based on a legacy of improving connections across the Bay Area and providing service to millions of people who come to live in and visit the region. From the “Bayshore Cut-Off” opening in 1907 that give Southern Pacific trains a quick route into San Francisco to the original Transbay Terminal in 1939 that accommodated rail service over the Bay Bridge for more than 26 million annual passengers, the milestones of the past century set the tracks for the opening of the Salesforce Transit Center and the next stage: completing The Portal. 

Program timeline


  • Bayshore Cutoff
    ‘Bayshore Cut-Off’ Opens

    The “Bayshore Cut-Off” opens, giving Southern Pacific trains a quick route into San Francisco.

  • Southern Pacific Temporary Terminal 1912
    Temporary Terminal Built at Third & Townsend

    A temporary terminal constructed for Southern Pacific passenger service at Third & Townsend streets, to be completed in time for 1915 World’s Fair; plans are made to bring trains to a new terminal in downtown San Francisco, but are never realized.

  • 1930s bay bridge construction
    Route for Bay Bridge Selected

    The Hoover Commission selects Rincon Hill to Oakland Mole, via Yerba Buena Island, as a route for the Bay Bridge.

  • 1933
    Site Selected for Transbay Terminal Rail Services

    A site is selected for the Transbay Terminal rail services in downtown San Francisco. The new site at First and Mission streets is selected because it is the closest option near the center of activity in downtown San Francisco and connects to the new Bay Bridge.

    Photo courtesy of The Bay Bridge (Images of America) by Paul C. Trimble and John C. Alioto, Jr.

  • 1936
    Bay Bridge Opens

    In 1936, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opens.  The construction of railway facilities is delayed while a cost-sharing plan is debated among state toll bridge authority and private railways.

  • 1939
    Transbay Terminal Constructed

    The Transbay Terminal is built in 1939 to accommodate rail service over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.  In its heyday, more than 26 million people used the Transbay Terminal each year.

    Photo courtesy of The Bay Bridge (Images of America) by Paul C. Trimble and John C. Alioto, Jr.

  • 1941
    ‘Red Trains’ Cease Terminal Operation

    Southern Pacific Railway “Red Trains” cease operation to the Transbay Terminal.

    Photo courtesy of The Bay Bridge (Images of America) by Paul C. Trimble and John C. Alioto, Jr.

  • Key System Train.
    Final Key System Train Leaves the Terminal

    Following World War II and the prevalence of the automobile, rail travel began to decrease.  The final Key System train left the Terminal in 1958. The railway is removed from the lower deck of the Bay Bridge.

  • Transbay Terminal - Bus Only
    Terminal Converted to Bus-Only Facility

    The Transbay Terminal is converted to a bus-only facility when the Key System rail stops running on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. AC Transit begins utilizing the Terminal deck and ramps, along with other local and long-distance bus carriers.

  • BART Train
    Caltrans Begins Study on Future of Transbay Terminal

    Caltrans begins study to determine future role of Transbay Terminal once Transbay BART service begins.

  • Aerial View Transbay Terminal
    Final Report is Issued, Favors Demolition of Existing Terminal

    Final report is issued and favors demolition of existing terminal with construction of a new regional transportation center to serve both commuters and long-distance passengers plus three million square feet of private development in air rights above the terminal.

  • 1970-1989
    Transbay Transit Terminal Transportation Study Released

    Transbay Transit Terminal Transportation Study released, calling for terminal with off-street facilities for all bus operators; peak capacity in new terminal would be 630 buses per hour, with direct ramps to Bay Bridge and US-101.

  • 1970-1989
    SFBATTA Established; San Francisco’s Railway terminal Moved to Fourth & Townsend

    SFBATTA established to oversee operations and planning of the Transbay Terminal.  San Francisco’s railway terminal is moved a block farther from downtown, to Fourth & Townsend streets, to make way for a freeway off-ramp that is never constructed.

  • Transbay Aerial Old.
    SFBATTA Study Concludes

    San Francisco Bay Area Transportation Terminal Authority (SFBATTA) study concludes; lowest-cost option is implemented, a minimal upgrade of the terminal.

  • Caltrain acquires Southern Pacific Trains.
    Caltrans Acquires Operation of Southern Pacific Service Between SF and SJ

    Caltrans takes over responsibility for the operation of the century-old Southern Pacific commuter service between San Francisco and San Jose, renaming it “Caltrain.”

  • 1970-1989
    Caltrans Develops Plans to Extend Railway to Transbay Terminal

    Caltrans, as part of its responsibility for operating new Caltrain commuter service, develops plans to extend railway to Transbay Terminal.

  • 1970-1989
    MTC Approves Resolution 1876

    Metropolitan Transportation Commission approves Resolution 1876, calling extension of Caltrain to downtown San Francisco a top regional priority.

  • 1989
    Loma Prieta Earthquake Damages Transbay Terminal

    The Loma Prieta earthquake rocks San Francisco in 1989, damaging the Transbay Terminal and surrounding freeway ramps.

    Caltrans’ Office of Structural Design completes designs for major revitalization of existing terminal, to bring the building up to current accessibility and life-safety codes.

  • 1990-1999
    Administrative Draft of Caltrain Downtown Extension Released

    The administrative Draft of Caltrain Downtown Extension is released.  Alternatives considered include a six-track terminal underground behind the Transbay Terminal, and a three-level underground terminal beneath Second Street at Market Street.  The study never progresses due to lack of a funding plan, but provides the basis for continued study of extending Caltrain into downtown San Francisco.

  • 1990-1999
    Mayor Frank Jordan Asks Caltrans to Consider Removing Terminal; PCJPB Acquires Caltrain Operations

    Mayor Frank Jordan asks Caltrans to consider removing Transbay Terminal and replacing it with a smaller terminal.

    Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board takes over Caltrain operations from Caltrans.

  • 1990-1999
    Study Released Suggesting Location for New Terminal

    The San Francisco Planning Department releases a Transit Terminal Study suggesting a location for the new terminal.

  • 1990-1999
    Final Report for Downtown Extension/Systems Upgrades Issued

    The Caltrain San Francisco Downtown Extension/Systems Upgrades Final Report is issued. Options considered include surface operation of Caltrain into the South of Market Area (SOMA) all the way to Market Street.

  • 1990-1999
    Transit Terminal Decision Report Prepared

    Transit Terminal Decision Report prepared, presenting three options for location of a new terminal.

  • 1990-1999
    Draft EIR for Downtown Extension Project Released

    Draft EIS/EIR for the Caltrain San Francisco Downtown Extension Project released but never certified.

  • 1990-1999
    Caltrain Proposes to Eliminate Eastern Ramp into Terminal

    As part of seismic work to retrofit the Bay Bridge ramps, Caltrans proposes to eliminate the eastern ramp into the Transbay Terminal.

  • 1999 Proposition H outcome.
    Proposition H Approved

    Proposition H is overwhelmingly adopted by San Francisco voters, which makes it City law to extend Caltrain tracks to a new or rebuilt regional transit station on the site of the Transbay Terminal, and to pursue other improvements.

  • 2000-2004
    Environmental Review of the Project Begins.

    The City & County of San Francisco and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be co-lead agencies for the Caltrain extension project.

    The Bay Area Toll Authority and the Transbay Terminal Improvement Study Panel select the preferred design for the new terminal: stacked configuration with Caltrain and high speed rail underground, joint use at ground level and on a mezzanine, two levels of bus bays and dedicated ramps connecting the bus decks to the Bay Bridge; the Plan is the result of a lengthy consensus-building design process that included needs of all operators.

  • 2000-2004
    Transbay program Included in MTC Resolution 3434 & Regional Transportation Plan

    The Transbay Program is included in the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Regional Transit Expansion Policy (MTC Resolution 3434) and the Regional Transportation Plan.

  • 2000-2004
    Design Concept for New Transbay Terminal Published

    Executive Committee of the Transbay Terminal Improvement Study Panel publishes design concept for new Transbay Terminal, an inter-modal bus and rail transit station to serve the Bay Area and the State.  The plan also includes development of certain surrounding parcels and envisions a new transit-oriented neighborhood with retail, offices, and 3000 residential units.

  • 2000-2004
    MTC’s Bay Crossing Study Begins

    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Crossings Study begins to examine options for providing additional capacity across the bay. The study covers an area from San Francisco to Silicon Valley and includes all modes.

  • TJPA Logo.
    Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA) Created

    City & County of San Francisco, AC Transit, and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board enter into an agreement creating the Transbay Joint Powers Authority (TJPA), with a five-person Board of Directors.

  • 2000-2004
    Draft EIS/EIR Published

    Draft EIS/EIR published and released for public review and comments followed by Public Hearings held by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency.

  • Proposed route for California High Speed Rail.
    California Senate Bill 1856 Presented

    California Senate Bill 1856 requires that initial segment of California High-Speed Rail connect San Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station.

  • San francisco voters approve propositon K.
    San Francisco Voters Pass Proposition K

    San Francisco voters pass Proposition K, a half-cent sales tax extension for transportation, which earmarks $270 million for Transbay Terminal/Caltrain Downtown Extension Program as long as the project includes the extension of Caltrain. California Senate Bill 916 sets foundation for Regional Measure 2, the Regional Traffic Relief Plan.

  • July 2003
    State Legislation Passes Requiring Affordable Housing, High-Speed Rail for Project

    State legislation passes which requires 35 percent affordable housing in the new Transbay Redevelopment Area and that the new Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets be designed to accommodate bus, Caltrain and high-speed rail.

  • 2000-2004
    AIA Awards Honor for Design for Development Plan

    Design for Development Plan receives an Urban Design Award from the American Institute of Architects.

  • Caltrans Toll Booths.
    Bay Area Voters Approve Regional Measure 2 Bridge Toll Increase

    Regional Measure 2 bridge toll increase is approved by Bay Area voters and allocates $150 million in project funding.

  • 2000-2004
    Engineering Design Services Contract for DTX Awarded

    RFP issued for Engineering Design Services for the Caltrain Downtown extension (DTX) Project. Contract awarded to Parsons/ARUP/Jacobs Associates in December 2004.

  • 2000-2004
    $9.3 Million in Funding Released for Planning & Preliminary Design

    Selection of Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) by the TJPA Board facilitates release of approximately $9.3 million in federal and regional funds to continue planning and preliminary design of the Transbay Terminal.

  • 2000-2004

    TJPA and Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board certify the FEIS/EIR and select a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) alignment into downtown San Francisco.

    FEIS/EIR Documents

  • 2000-2004
    Final Environmental Impact Statement/Environmentatl Impact Report (FEIS/EIR) Certified

    San Francisco Board of Supervisors certifies FEIS/EIR.

  • 2005-2009
    Preliminary Engineering Work Begins

    The TJPA begins preliminary engineering work on the Transbay Terminal Project.

  • 2005-2009
    Preliminary Engineering Work Begins

    Federal Transit Administration issues Record of Decision (ROD), confirming that the Transbay Terminal Project has satisfied all of the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and completed the extensive federal environmental review process.

    Record of Decision: Issued February 8, 2005

    Appendix A: Mitigation Monitoring Program

    Appendix B: Memorandum of Agreement with FTA and State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO)

    Appendix C: Summary of Public Comment

    Appendix D: Executed Project Development Agreement

  • 2005-2009
    Board of Supervisors Adopts Transbay Redevelopment Plan

    The Redevelopment Plan for the Transbay Terminal Project is adopted by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.  The Redevelopment Plan will transform the area surrounding the new station and create a new Transbay neighborhood with homes, parks and retail.

  • 2005-2009
    Redevelopment Agency Adopts Transbay Redevelopment Plan

    Redevelopment Agency adopts Transbay Redevelopment Plan.

  • 2005-2009
    Project Receives $55 Million in Federal Funding

    The Transbay Transit Center/Caltrain Extension Project receives $55 million in federal funding from the long-awaited federal surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users).

  • 2005-2009
    TJPA Becomes Eligible Federal Grant Recipient
  • 2005-2009
    TJPA Board Adopts Recommended Implementation Strategy

    The TJPA Board adopts a recommended implementation strategy to construct the program in two phases.  Phase I includes constructing the station and the train boxes.  Phase II includes the Caltrain and future high-speed rail line underground up Second Street into the new built-out train level of the station.

    Recommended Implementation Strategy

  • 2005-2009
    Design & Development Competition Launched

    The TJPA launches an international competition to select a Design and Development (D/D) Team to design a Transit Center to be developed by the TJPA in downtown San Francisco and to design and develop a Tower adjacent to the Transbay Transit Center.

  • September 20, 2007
    Winners of Design & Development Competition Announced

    Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and Hines selected as winner of the Design & Development Competition.

  • 2005-2009
    California Transportation Commission Approves Transfer of State Land Parcels

    California Transportation Commission approves transfer of State land parcels to the TJPA, the City of San Francisco, and the SF Redevelopment Agency.

  • 2008
    Construction of Temporary Terminal Begins

    Construction of the Temporary Terminal begins in fall 2008.  The temporary replacement bus facility will serve bus passengers while the new multi-modal Transbay Transit Center is under construction.

  • December 10, 2008
    Groundbreaking Ceremony at Temporary Terminal Site

    A groundbreaking ceremony launches the first step in the Transbay Transit Center program – construction of the Temporary Terminal, the temporary facility that will serve bus passengers while the new landmark Transbay Transit Center is under construction.

  • 2010-Present
    Demolition of East Loop (Phase II of Temporary Terminal) Completed

    The second phase of the Temporary Terminal construction begins following demolition of the east loop over the Temporary Terminal site.  The removal of this outdated bus ramp allows construction of the Temporary Terminal to be completed and demolition of the Transbay Terminal to begin.

  • Temporary Transbay Terminal by Coro.
    Construction of Temporary Terminal (Phase I of Temporary Terminal) completed.

    Temporary Terminal opens.

    (Photo by Coro - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, )

  • Demolition of Old Transbay Terminal.
    Demolition of the Transbay Terminal

    Begin demolition of Transbay Terminal.  Begin construction of Phase I of the project, including the Transit Center building and Train Box.

  • Demolition of old Transbay Terminal.
    Demolition of Existing Ramps and Transbay Terminal
  • Demolition Finished
    Completion of Demolition of Former Transbay Terminal

    Demolition phase of the Transit Center is completed on time and on budget. Demolition entailed nearly 55,000 hours of labor, all of which were completed without accident or injury. Approximately 88 percent of this work was completed using local labor who worked diligently to recycle more than 7,500 tons of steel and 92,000 cubic yards of concrete—enough to fill 28 Olympic size swimming pools.

  • 2010-Present
    Governor Jerry Brown Signs Historic High Speed Rail Legislation at Transbay Site

    At an event on the Transbay construction site, Governor Brown signs high-speed rail legislation that will create thousands of new jobs in California by providing $8 billion in funding from Prop 1A for construction of the first segment of high-speed rail and infrastructure upgrades on the Northern and Southern “bookends” in San Francisco and Los Angeles. This includes crucial funding to complete the electrification of Caltrain, which will ultimately serve to bring high speed-rail and Caltrain into the new Transbay Transit Center.

  • 2010-Present
    Transit Center District Plan Enacted

    The Transit Center District Plan is enacted by the City of San Francisco in order to allow upzoning of certain land parcels in the area surrounding the new Transbay Transit Center and to generate revenues to fund infrastructure in the Transbay neighborhood, including substantial revenues for the Transbay Program.

  • Phase 1 First Concrete Pour w Mayor Lee 2013.
    First Concrete Pour for Permanent Foundation

    First concrete is poured for the permanent foundation for the new facility. The 5-foot thick cement foundation requires 60,000 cubic yards of concrete to cover the excavation. The foundation is poured in 15 segments, each of which requires approximately 4,000 cubic yards of concrete.

  • Mamoth tooth.
    Excavation Work Completed

    After two years of work, excavation for the Transbay Transit Center is complete. A total of 640,000 cubic yards of material from digging, trenching and preparation for foundation is removed and leads to the discovery of numerous artifacts, including the tooth of an approximately 12,000 year old Columbian mammoth.

  • 2010-Present
    Bus Ramp Construction Begins

    Work on the Transbay Transit Center’s new designated Bus Ramp begins with the demolition of existing footings.  When complete, the ramp will connect the Transit Center directly to the Bay Bridge, keeping Transbay buses off busy downtown streets, improving bus commute times, and reducing traffic congestion.

  • Amount of material in finished slab.
    Foundation Work Completed

    The foundation of the Transbay Transit Center is completed just 6 years after groundbreaking.  The entire 5-foot thick, 4-block long mat slab foundation of the Transit Center is poured in an impressive 13 months.

  • TJPA Steel Structure.
    Steel Assembly Begins

    Bringing together thousands of steel elements manufactured and shopped at locations throughout the United States, assembly of the Transit Center’s steel superstructure begins in November 2014.  The iconic Transbay Transit Center begins to take shape above ground.

  • 2010-Present
    Mello Roos Community Facilities District Formed

    Mayor Ed Lee signs into law legislation that creates a Mello Roos Community Facilities District (CFD) for the Transit Center District Plan (TCDP) area, which surrounds the new Transit Center. Developers choosing to upzone in the TCDP area must pay a special CFD tax to fund infrastructure needed to support upzoned (i.e. taller) buildings. The CFD represents a major new funding source for the Transbay Transit Center Program.

  • 2010 - 2017
    Construction of the new Transbay Transit Center
  • TJPAs Salesforce Transit Center - East End.
    Phase I of Project Completed

    Construction of the new Transbay Transit Center was completed in 2018, creating a new, 1 million square foot Transit Center with above-grade bus level, ground floor and concourse-level retail and foundations for two below-grade levels to serve Caltrain and future high-speed rail service to Los Angeles.


Envision a world class transit hub

The ability to envision the future and to transform aspiration into reality is what sets leaders apart. No urban transit project in the world today exemplifies this fact better than the Transbay Program and the urban transformation it has created. It is on par with the most important transportation projects in the world today. 

Through a bold vision, political will, community support, and collaboration between public sector stakeholders, the TJPA’s Transbay Program reached a major milestone: the opening of the new Salesforce Transit Center in 2018. 

A catalyst for the development of millions of square feet of office space, thousands of residential units, actress of new parks, tens of thousands of jobs, and a vibrant new neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, the Center takes its place in a new generation of multimodal transit centers in Paris, New York, London, Berlin, and Tokyo. 

The coming years will see the completion of the Downtown Rail Extension project (now also known as The Portal), bringing commuter and high speed rail service into the Center, strengthening the regional economy. 

“By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and
making California a better place to live and work. 

Governor Jerry Brown, 2012