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San Francisco Chinatown subway leak will take over 6 months to fix

People stand outside the entrance of the Chinatown-Rose Pak Station during the official opening of the Central Subway. | Source: Juliana Yamada for The Standard

A leak that closed one side of the platform of San Francisco’s Chinatown-Rose Pak subway station on Thursday will take at least six months to fix permanently, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said.

The platform was still closed on Friday morning. It’s a part of the Central Subway Muni Metro line that opened in November last year, four years late and at least $375 million over budget.

The leak began at around 5:30 p.m. Thursday and has persisted since, according to the transit agency.

There are no reports of delays or disruptions, according to the transit agency. An eyewitness said trains were slowed down from entering the station on Thursday, but the agency disputes this.

The station’s stairway is closed due to the water leak, but its elevators and escalators are running.

The stairwell at the Chinatown-Rose Pak is closed on Thursday evening due to a water leak. | Source: Dalton Ross

“We’re aware of ongoing reports of water intrusion,” said transit agency spokesperson Stephen Chun.

Chun said the agency would install a temporary fix in the coming days by injecting grout to stop the leaking.

Service issues and potential closure of the station on a temporary basis are possible while the leak is being fixed, Chun said.

Parts of the platform at the Chinatown-Rose Pak Central Subway station were closed off due to water leaking onto the platform Thursday evening. | Source: Dalton Ross

The transit agency said portions of the station’s platforms had areas sectioned off to “keep the area safe.”

Photos dating from Thursday at around 5:30 p.m. and Friday at around 6 a.m. show water seeping from a subway wall onto the tracks, as well as a blocked-off station entrance and signage warning of wet floors.

Central Subway rider Dalton Ross, who took the photos, said one of the station’s two platforms was out of service on Thursday at around 5:30 p.m. and on Friday around 6 a.m.

The SFMTA said both platforms are open and there are no reports of service delays or disruptions at the Rose Pak station.

Water is leaking through a membrane meant to waterproof the tunnel that is more than 100 feet below street level, the transit agency said.

A long-term fix will involve grouting the area above the platform. The agency said it will plan the work to minimize service disruptions.

Central Subway service began as a “soft launch,” with free weekend service for passengers before the city switched to a daily service that charged riders a fare in January 2023.

Red plastic party cups were used for drainpipes at the Union Square-Market Street Central Subway station during the subway’s first weekend of service on Nov. 20, 2022. | Source: Courtesy Chase Enright

Water issues in the subway are not new—the agency briefly used red plastic cups as drainage pipes in the walls while waiting for parts to arrive in December last year.

The subway has also had equipment failures since opening, including a failed support cable that slowed train service in November, early into the subway’s operation. The problem was eventually fixed.

Garrett Leahy can be reached at