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BART to vote on Oakland airport connector

By dcuff
Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 at 8:31 pm in Uncategorized.

A contract to build BART’s people-mover tram to the Oakland International Airport is scheduled to be awarded Thursday over objections of critics who want an express bus system instead.

It’s a political showdown years in the making.

BART top managers recommend the transit board award a $492 million contract to a joint venture of Flatiron West Inc. and the Parsons Transportation Group.  For the BART report on the recommendation, click here.

 The meeting begins  10 a.m. at the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, third floor, 344 – 20th St,Oakland,


 The $492 million price tag is less than BART’s internal estimate of $522 million to build a 3.2-mile-long “people mover” system from the Coliseum train station to just outside the airport terminal, BART officials say 

Flatiron and Parsons propose building a cable car system on an elevated guideway over city streets. Two giant cables powered by electrical motors would pull the cars  manufactured by Dopplemayr Cable Car with rubber wheels.

BART contends the people mover system will provide a long-overdue link in regional transportation to carry train customers all the way to the airport. Passengers would exit a regular BART train at the Coliseum station and walk across a platform to board the people-mover cars.

But critics call the project a  flashy high-tech boondoggle that will move passengers no better and at 10 times the cost than if BART upgraded its current AirBART shuttle buses to express buses.

Leading the charge against the people-mover plan is the Oakland-based group Transform, a nonprofit  public trans advocate.

“TransForm is requesting that the BART Board ask for more time to make a decision so that key elements of this proposal can be analyzed and understood before moving forward with this hugely expensive project,” said John Knox White of Transform.

For Transform’s critique of the project, click here.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said the airport connector has been studied extensively, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, city of Oakland and Alameda  County have agreed to help fund the project.

 The federal government is chipping in $70 million in economic stimulus funds toward the project.

Johnson said construction is expected to start next year and take some four or five years to complete.

BART planners have suggested the one-way fare for the people mover would be $6 – an estimate fanning critics’ assertion that the project benefits the affluent. Johnson said the fare won’t be set until close to the time the project is ready to start operating.

BART already has a train station near the San Francisco International Airport where train passengers can exit a BART train and board a people mover system carrying them directly into the airport terminal.

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4 Responses to “BART to vote on Oakland airport connector”

  1. John Knox White Says:

    Oakland City Council Vice President sent a letter to the BART Board today reiterating that the Council has only supported a project that has an intermediate stop and has completed a fare equity analysis. As neither of of these issues have been dealt with, the Council has not supported the project that will be discussed tomorrow.

    Much of the support cited by BART was in place before major changes were made to the project.

    The project that is being presented to the board for adoption tomorrow has been presented to the BART Board in closed session, but has never been presented to the public. It is the result of an bid process that used minimum standards of service that were never discussed in public, but changed during the bid process with no announcement whatsoever, so as to allow the winning bidder to qualify.

    While the BART Board my decide to support the project, they should do so only after a public presentation of the project and a thorough, independent analysis of what they are spending $492 million in public funds on. To date, this has not been presented. Staff have spoken in generalities and used 8-year old data based on operational characteristics that have changed tremendously.

  2. DensityDuck Says:

    six bucks PLUS a BART ticket? Jesus. You might as well just drive there and park!

  3. MikeTeeVee Says:

    Even worse, it’s $6 EACH WAY between the Coliseum and OAK, or $12 round trip. Plus a BART ticket. Plus $5/day for Airport/Long Term parking at most BART stations.

    For comparison, offsite AAA parking rate near OAK is $6/day at Expresso.

  4. DensityDuck Says:

    Update: due to multiple lawsuits filed by minority groups, BART has cancelled this project.

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