BART’s Board of Directors is scheduled to consider moving forward with a controversial plan for a BART line link between the Coliseum Station and the Oakland Airport when the board holds its regular meeting Thursday morning.
The board meets at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 14, at BART headquarters, 344 20th Street in Oakland.
On the agenda is a resolution for board approval of a request for $70 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for the Oakland Airport Connector project, and a second resolution authorizing BART staff to seek another $150 million in U.S. Department of Transportation funds. Total cost for the Airport Connector is expected to be $522 million.
An ad hoc coalition of local organizations—including transit advocates TransForm (formerly Transportation and Land Use Coalition), Urban Habitat, Genesis, Amalgamated Transportation Union (ATU) Local 1555, ATU Local 192, and Service Employees International Union Local 1021—are opposing the Airport Connector project, and instead are proposing a Bus Rapid Transit-style bus line called RapidBART between the Coliseum Station and the Airport.
“This ultimately is a question of priorities by BART management,” ATU Local 1555 President Jesse Hunt said in a prepared release. “Will BART vote to take on further debt and make unsustainable expenditures for a project that’s already hundreds of millions of dollars over budget without even considering an alternative? We think the directors should stop the rush and consider a sensible, affordable alternative that will save BART patrons and Bay Area taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars.”
Local 1555 represents more than 900 BART train operators, power support workers and station agents.
BART passengers going to the Oakland Airport can currently take an AirBART shuttle bus that operates from the Coliseum Station. RapidBART advocates say that their alternative would be more reliable and faster than AirBART, while advocates for BART’s proposed Airport Connector say that the RapidBART system would still be subject to traffic delays that would make it less reliable and desirable than the connector.