AC Transit bus makes inaugural Transbay departure at new Salesforce Transit Center

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Commuters in San Francisco are getting their first chance to make their way through the new Transbay Transit Center. Workers Monday evening got off the clock and got on on the road home.

Thousands of commuters began navigating a whole new system. Dozens of bus lines, hundreds of buses streaming in and out, riders saying that they're still getting used to all the changes.

"What I did find this morning is that the driver, it was new to them as well." said AC Transit passenger Karl Merath. 

Commuters were welcomed to the transit center Monday morning with confetti and balloons and passengers saying they were impressed with the new building. "I love it. It's almost the feeling of an airport," said Angela Rice. "The San Francisco airport or the Oakland airport. That type of feeling. It's great. It's clean. I'm hoping that it will stay clean. But it's a little overwhelming."

The real test was Monday evening's commute. AC Transit said ridership surges in the afternoon. "What often happens in the morning is we still have casual carpoolers," said AC Transit Spokesperson Robert Lyles. "So, they may not have been on a bus in the morning, but they are certainly relying on transbay bus lines to get home in the evening. So, we traditionally see a greater number of hours in the evening hours."

As riders switch from the temporary terminal to the new terminal they'll be greeted with three-dozen high-tech bus bays, terminals and a big board to help get them where they need to go.

AC Transit said while there may be a learning curve, the benefits outweigh any downside.

Among them: Access to the new bridge that will carry passengers over the backups below. "Because they'll be able to go directly from the deck to the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. We're hoping that shaves about five minutes off everyone's ride," said Lyles.

Riders Monday said they were looking forward to shorter commutes and an easy trip home. "It was very fast. Normally we have to sit at the light, you know, 5-10 minutes," said Merath.

While the Transbay Transit Center is open for commuters the work here continues. The park at the Transit Center is open, but they are still working to fill and open shops and restaurants here.