BART may consider old and new technology — buses, cable cars, and a floating train held up by magnetic forces — as options for a long-waited service to carry train riders to the Oakland International Airport directly from BART’s Coliseum station.
BART is going back to the drawing board for an airport connector project because its $386 million elevated tramway plan has hit a dead end.
The transit system announced last month said that it couldn’t find private partners it needed to help fund the project, a 3.2-mile direct link between the Coliseum station and the airport.
BART isn’t giving up, though. Transit board members and managers said they still believe the region needs a direct airport service more convenient and reliable than the current AirBART shuttle buses.
Those vehicles can get caught in traffic jams, and boarding the shuttles requires train riders to descend from the station platform to catch buses.
So BART is looking at new options – especially if they’re cheaper than the tram plan.
One low-tech idea is to establish dedicated bus lanes to the airport. This plan win points on lower costs, but Oakland officials are not likely to rush to surrender space in city street for bus lanes.
A cable car system also could get another look, BART officials said.
BART rejected a cable car years ago when it was thought the 3.2-mile-long route to the airport was too long for a single cable to pull cars.
But technology has changed since then. Now developers think a cable system that relies on a series of shorter cables could haul cars along the route, said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.
BART also may look at the emerging technology of Maglev trains, Johnson said. (For more info on maglev, visit this site: http://www.howstuffworks.com/maglev-train.htm)
Maglev, a train technology in use in a few places in Germany, China, and Japan, uses opposing magnetic forces to levitate and propel a train. The trains lift just enough to move quickly and quietly.
Wow. Wouldn’t neighbors of BART train tracks welcome this technology to avoid the screech of train wheels grinding along the tracks?
BART has no timetable or process yet for assessing different options, which also could include a modified version of a tram.
However, Gail Murray, the BART board president, said the agency doesn’t want to give up on the connector service and expects the board will discuss it in 2009.
If you’ve got ideas for an airport connector, share your comments below.