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Opposition aims at BART rail extension to Oakland airport

By dcuff
Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 at 4:26 pm in Misc. Transportation.

Coliseum BART by Flickr user zokah_921 under Creative Commons attribution license
“Coliseum BART” by Flickr user zokah_921 used under Creative Commons attribution license

Opponents of BART’s $522 million plan to extend rail service 3.2 miles to the Oakland International Airport will make their case tonight to the Oakland City Council.  BART officials, however, contend the City Council’s support is not required, so the vote is symbolic.

Transform, an Oakland based group that supports public transit and transit-oriented development, contends that BART’s plan for a light-rail people mover system from the Coliseum BART station to the airport is too expensive. The group favors a cheaper plan to upgrade an existing bus service along the same route to a bus rapid transit program with large buses running every few minutes.

Funding for the elevated rail service was approved earlier this year by the BART Board, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, and the Port of Oakland Commission.

The Oakland City Council is clearly split, as shown in stories by Kelly Rayburn in the Oakland Tribune and by Carolyn Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mayor Ron Dellums released a letter today expressing his support for the rail extension. “As Oakland’s mayor in a time when the city is facing unemployment rates of 17%, I cannot in good conscience turn away this prospect for our residents,’ he wrote.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Oakland City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza. It may be some time before the council considers the rail extension because it also is grappling tonight with a controversy over parking meter hours.

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