By Tim Hunt
BART's airport connectors continue to under-performUploaded: Dec 20, 2016
BART has spent extravagantly to connect its lines to both San Francisco International and Oakland International Airports.
In my role as an editorial writer, I strongly supported the San Francisco extension, believing it would enhance both ridership and service. Wrong.
That line has consistently under-performed and I now do all I can to avoid it when I am flying out of SFO. Since the direct line from Pleasanton-Dublin has been shelved, it’s now a 2-hour trip from the valley to the airport that requires a transfer. The original direction routing delivered passengers in about 90 minutes. Even at peak commute times, a comfortable ride in a car beats the two-hour ride.
The automated car connector from the Coliseum BART station to the Oakland Airport is a classic example of spending federal dollars to solve a non-problem. BART already had regular bus transfers to and from the airport that worked just fine. Nonetheless, the Bay Area Democratic congressional delegation pushed through the $500 million connector as part of the soon-to-be-former President Barrack Obama’s stimulus package.
Unlike many of the projects in that package—which was mostly a giveaway to public employee unions through grants to cities and counties—it was shovel-ready (compare it to the state’s high-speed rail that has a few concrete overpasses under construction way down in the San Joaquin Valley). To cover the operating costs, the short ride costs $6 each way.
For a couple flying out from here, that $24 round-trip plus the normal BART fares makes the convenience of the off-site airport parking lots look reasonable, particularly on weekend trips.
The other ridership factor that BART is struggling to cope with is the ride-sharing apps from Uber and Lyft. In just two years, the SFO riders have skyrocketed from about 96,000 to 578,000, according to a report in the San Francisco Business Times. The government planners correctly can claim they did not see that coming.
What they should have seen coming in how SFO ridership has under-performed since the start and ratcheted back the Oakland numbers accordingly.
Congrats to the Pleasanton Weekly editorial team for an excellent selection as their Man of the Year—retired Army Major Doug Miller. Well deserved
Doug led the successful campaign to raise private money to fund the new Veteran’s Memorial in the city’s Pioneer Cemetery. To see a group commit to raising $300K and then get it done, within the time frame, is a shining example of living up to their word.
Incidentally, Pleasanton sure is blessed by Nancy and Gary Harrington, who put up the first $40,000 as a matching fund to get the campaign going. The Harrington’s have been quite generous with their donations to support public arts.