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Protect BART and Improve Transit Efficiency!

Thursday, May 14, 2009
9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Event Type:
Joel Ramos
510-740-3150 ext. 318
405 14th St., #605, Oakland, CA 94122
Location Details:
BART Board Room, located in the Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall, Third Floor, 344 20th St., Oakland, CA.

Join us in telling BART and MTC:
"Study TransForm's proposal for a fast, free airport connection -- analysis shows higher ridership at 1/10 the cost!"

Despite huge costs, questionable benefits, and risks to all BART riders, the BART Board of Directors may vote on May 14 move ahead with the Oakland Airport Connector project.

The Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) is a $500 million, 3.2-mile rail replacement for the current AirBART bus connecting Coliseum BART and the Oakland Airport. BART, facing a long-term deficit of over $7 billion, will vote to borrow up to $150 million for this project. To cover the costs they are proposing a $12 round trip fare on the connector on top of the BART fare!

In a new report, TransForm is proposing a fast, free airport connection that will save over $400 million and help the community. We call it RapidBART. BART has never studied a true Bus Rapid Transit option like this, one that can bypass traffic.

RapidBART would cost dramatically less, provide job access for the community and be free to riders in perpetuity. It would have higher ridership than the Connector, TransForm estimates a ridership benefit of over 2000 passengers per day, largely due to the free fare and the additional station on Hagenberger. Finally it would allow BART and agencies across the region to use Recovery Act funds to save jobs and service this year. BART would be able to use other savings to improve seismic safety or fill other critical needs.

Join us in urging the BART Board to take the time they have to study ALL the options, including an improved "RapidBART" BRT system as proposed by TransForm! For more info, please visit

Project Details follow:

The Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) is a half-billion dollar. 3.2-mile replacement for the current AirBART bus which in 2008 carried 9% of all Airport passengers between the Oakland Coliseum BART station and Oakland International Airport. The system will have a travel time of approximately 12-minutes (similar to the current AirBART) and will not stop between BART and OAK.

How did we get here?

Since the 1970’s, planners and policymakers have discussed the creation of a connection from BART to the Oakland Airport. Throughout most of these discussions, this connection has focused on the goal of moving people efficiently and cost-effectively to the airport in a seamless ride without regards to a specific transportation mode or technology. Throughout the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s, planning discussions looked at Bus Rapid Transit service. It wasn’t until the end of the 1990’s that the project became a rail-only project.

In the November 2000 election, Alameda County voters approved Measure B, which included a two-stop Oakland Airport Connector that would be built for $130 million.

Immediately after its passage, the City of Oakland insisted on adding two additional stations according to the San Francisco Chronicle:

The city is insisting on two stops along the system's route between the Coliseum station and the airport -- one at Hegenberger and 98th Avenue and one at the northwest corner of the Hegenberger-I-880 exit. [Oakland Councilmember] Spees allowed that the stops would increase the cost, but he believes they are mandatory given business expansion in the airport neighborhood.

This proposal would ensure that the Connector served the neighborhoods it went through. Having intermediate stops served East Oakland too.

In April 2001, the Metropolitan Transporation Commission (MTC) adopted the Regional Transporation Enhancement Policy (RTEP) (MTC Resolution #3357) with a four-station $232 million dollar OAC project.

This was confirmed by BART Spokesman Healy:

The monorail "will be a shuttle service that will go back and forth between the airport and the BART station, and it could have two stations in between,"

Environmental Review and looking at alternatives

In 2002, BART adopted an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project. The EIR looked at a Quality Bus Service (BRT) but selected the $232 million, 4-stop, Automated People Mover based on the following criteria:

* Cost Effectiveness
* Maximizes Transit Ridership
* Travel Time Savings
* Providing Opportunities for Economic Development on the Hegenberger Corridor
* Reliable Scheduled Service
* Service Flexibility
* Convenient, Safe and Comfortable Connection

It turns out that the recently revised Connector project no longer performs strongly in the key goals of "Travel Time Savings", "Maximizing Transit Ridership", "Cost Effectiveness" or "Providing Economic Development along Hegenberger".

It's Not Cost Effectiveness

The Oakland Airport Connector was approved by Alameda County voters in November 2000 as a $130 million project. Six months later (April 2001), two stations were added, nearly doubling the cost to $232 Million. In April 2009, both of the new stations have been removed and the cost is now over four times the original! $522-552!

A 10-year history of the price of the OAC. OAC Budget Graph

By comparison, AC Transit’s 14-mile International/Telegraph BRT line is estimated at $238 million (compared to the Connector at $552 million for 3.2 miles).
Maximizing Transit Ridership...are the numbers justified?

Currently, the AirBART bus shuttle carries 9% of all Oakland Airport passengers. The AirBART charges $3.00 and makes the trip from Coliseum BART to Oakland International in 12 minutes (up to 30 if congestion is terrible) and carries approximately 3,000 people per weekday.

BART continues to evaluate the Oakland Airport Connector bsed on ridership estimates developed in 2001 for the EIR based on a fare of $2.00. This ridership estimate (13,540 riders per day) is 23% higher than BART to SFO’s peak weekday ridership of 11,000 in July 2008. (The original prediction for the BART-SFO extension was 17,800 daily riders to SFO per the 1998 BART Website). The current proposal is for a $6.00 fare. That's an additional $6.00 on top of the normal BART fare! It would cost more to get from Coliseum BART to the airport than it currently does to ride BART all the way from downtown SF to SFO ($5.35)!

Further, the travel-time and service-frequency have declined and two of the four planned stops have been removed. Yet BART continues to use its 2001 ridership numbers.

At the April 23, 2009 BART Board meeting, the board learned that new ridership information that they had been presented with was not finalized or publicly available. Staff stated that the numbers were “draft” and therefore not public, and that staff continues to work with a consultant to fix problems that staff has identified.

Travel Time Savings...or is it?

The 2001 EIR studied an OAC system that traveled between Coliseum BART and Oakland Airport in 8.2 minutes, including stops at two intermediate stations.

In 2005, the Oakland Tribune reported that AirBART traveled the same route in an average of “12-15 minutes.”

On April 24, 2009, one day after the last BART Board meeting, BART’s website was changed to indicate that the current version of the Oakland Airport Connector will have “a travel time of approximately 12 minutes between the Coliseum BART station and the airport.” As the two intermediate stops have been removed, this marks a 50% increase in travel time since the EIR studied the project, and is similar to the travel time of the existing AirBART.

Oakland Airport has two terminals and plans to build a third in the future, but the OAC will have only one stop on airport property. While AirBART has the flexibility for stops at each terminal, the Oakland Airport Connector will necessitate people walking between terminals in the future.

When BART Directors approved the project in 2002 and again in 2007, it was designed so that, “[p]assengers would have to walk 300 feet on a people mover to get to the nearest check-in counter.” However, this part of the design has been removed. OAC passengers will now have to descend to street level and cross multiple lanes of traffic.
(No Longer) Providing Opportunities for Economic Development on the Hegenberger Corridor

The most recent project does not have a stop anywhere along Hegenberger. BART’s website describes the project stops as:

The [OAC] system would include two end terminal stations: one at the Coliseum BART Station and one at the proposed airport terminal.

In 2007, the BART board adopted a resolution approving the permanent removal of the planned stop at Edgewater and Hegenberger. The second stop, at Doolittle and Hegenberger, remains proposed, but will no longer be included in the current project.

There will be no stops on the OAC between Coliseum BART and the Oakland Airport. The hoped-for economic development beneifts originally foreseen in the EIR do not exist without intermediate stops. Instead, the current design will create more auto-dependent development and out-of-town OAC riders will soar over the neighborhood without any way to get off. The benefit for East Oakland will be minimal. Riders will instead be whisked away to points further North and South.

This is too big a risk for very little payoff

In 2006, David Luberoff, executive director of the Rappaport Institute of Greater Boston at the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, told the Oakland Tribune that BART’s proposed Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) would shield the agency from risk:

"One of the neat things about having the private operator do this is that the private folks are going to be really hard-nosed about it,” [said Luberoff]. “It validates the project, it shields BART from the risk if the monorail is not popular"

And a year earlier the Oakland Tribune reported that the Port of Oakland agreed:

"The only way it can be real is if there is private financing for it," said Port Aviation Director Steve Grossman. "BART needs to go out there and find out if this project is feasible."

Since then, the three private firms that BART was working with have walked away from the project and BART has increased the capital costs by $100 million dollars. This risk has become greater and yet BART continues to move forward on its own! BART needs to learn from its private partners: this project as it is designed is not feasible!
BART has other options!

In 2001, BART’s own EIR studied a Bus Rapid Transit solution. Such a solution could bring the schedule predictability and travel speed desired by project proponents, needed jobs to East Oakland (including ongoing operations positions), and do so at a much lower cost!
Added to the calendar on Tue, May 12, 2009 11:34AM
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