Cool Green Bus Terminal Coming to San Francisco


An artist's conception of the green new Transbay Terminal being built in San Francisco. Image via Inhabitat.

One of my favorite things to do in Turkey is go down to the main otogar (bus station), ask around for buses to interesting destinations, and hop on. The station itself is no great shakes architecturally or anything, but I love the hustle and bustle and the feeling that a whole country's worth of options is open to me. That sense of possibility and movement draws me to transit hubs of all kinds, from Grand Central Station to the dustiest little village bus stop. But one I could never work up any love for was my hometown of San Francisco's Transbay Terminal. When I go back for a visit in the future, though, it might be a whole different story.With its official ground-breaking on a new transit center last month, San Francisco hopes to create a hub that's as green as the city's reputation. According to Inhabitat, the ambitious $4 billion project by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects will "aim for a LEED Gold rating" with various green features:

The new Transbay Terminal will feature rainwater and greywater catchement systems, wind turbines, geothermal power supply, and a massive rooftop park. The current CalTrain tracks will extend into the heart of downtown to meet it.

In addition to connecting more of the city's transit systems (and hopefully eventually becoming home to a long-sought high-speed rail service to Los Angeles), the new terminal, scheduled to be completed in 2014, will offer the city a 5.4 acre park with its publicly accessible green roof, which is expected to host a variety of cultural activities.


The old Transbay Terminal, originally opened in 1939. Photo by Todd Lappin via Boing Boing.

Inhabitat points out that tearing down and rebuilding might not be as green as what Los Angeles has done in revitalizing its classic Union Station, but I'm not alone in my lack of nostalgia for San Francisco's old Art Deco terminal. Blogger Todd Lappin writes in a post titled "An Unfond Farewell to San Francisco's Dingy, Dark, Fetid Transbay Terminal" that the building was opened in 1939, became a bus-only facility in the late 1950s, and "has basically been in a steady-state decline ever since.... The structure has barely changed since it opened, and today an unknowing visitor might be forgiven for wondering if it hadn't been cleaned since, either."

Atypically for San Francisco, my friends back home told me, there were no significant efforts to preserve the old terminal. "Guess everyone hated the place -- and its smells -- that much," one wrote. Another added, "The Transbay Terminal was so awful that no one can think of any reason to save it."

Hopefully we won't be saying the same things about the shiny green new one in another 70 years.

More about San Francisco:
San Francisco Moves to Expand the Plastic Bag Ban - California May Follow
Green Eating: Take a Gastronomical Tour of San Francisco
Making San Francisco's Muni Faster is Easy, So Let's Do It (Video)
San Francisco Green Festival 2009 Shows How a True 'Green' Event Should Be Run
Mandatory Composting Law Already a Success in San Francisco
San Francisco Signs Onto Green Civic Center Plan

Tags: Buses | Cities | Green Building | Public Transportation | San Francisco | Urban Life | Urban Planning

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