By Joe Vazquez

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — San Francisco’s problem-plagued, $1.6 Billion central subway system will now be substantially delayed for at least two years, an SFMTA spokesperson said Wednesday.

“Substantial completion of construction is targeted for mid 2020 with revenue service slated for mid 2021,” said Erica Kato. Delays in “revenue service” mean customers will not be able to ride the new Central Subway for another year after completion because it will take that long to test the new system, Kato said.

“A year for testing is pretty much the industry standard,” Kato said. “We have a very complicated automatic train control system, we have to install overhead wires, and we have customer communication systems that really need to work in sync.”

SFMTA officials have been insisting for months that the project would be finished by December 2019.

The subway will eventually run between Chinatown and the Caltrain station South of Market. This new delay means Warriors fans will not be able to use it to get to Chase Center for a couple more years.

Along the line, some mom-and-pop shops have already gone out of business and some are on the brink, especially in Chinatown, where owners and their advocates feel like officials have been lying to them.

“Really frustrating because SFMTA have been having weekly merchant meetings, but still they weren’t able to communicate with us, they weren’t transparent about it,” said Queena Chen of the Chinatown Transportation Research & Improvement Project.

“The equipment has been blocking merchants’ storefronts, so some of our businesses are losing foot traffic,” Chen said. “It’s really disappointing.”

Hon Lam Yeung of Hong Kong Dessert says the Central Subway Project has been a nightmare for his business because of constant jackhammering and blocked parking spaces.

“The construction makes too much noise,” Yeung said. “Too much dust…every day.”

The announced delay follows a six week review of the system by the new project manager, Nabeem Tahir.

A years-long court battle with the contractor, Tutor Perini, has contributed to the delay. Also, at one point, some of the tracks were made out of the wrong kind of steel.

“It’s just a fiasco,” said Kim Burrafato of San Francisco. “I would say it’s largely incompetence and probably some corruption to cover up the incompetence.”

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