BART is opening a new line connecting the Coliseum Station to the Oakland International Airport on Nov. 22.
The driverless train system will replace the current AirBART shuttle and will run every five minutes between the peak hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m and less frequently during other hours.
“It is much more frequent (than AirBART),” said Alicia Trost, spokesperson for BART. “You no longer need to wait outside — possibly in the rain — for the bus. You get off at Coliseum, right at platform level, and walk … into the automated people mover. It drops you off at the airport right where passengers cross to go to terminal one and two.”
According to Trost, the new system will be cleaner, easier and more frequent than the AirBART shuttle. The connecting trip from the Coliseum Station to the Oakland airport will take eight minutes.
The fare for the addition is $6, making a trip from Downtown Berkeley to the Oakland airport cost $8.50.
The Oakland airport line extends about three miles along Hegenberger Road.
“As we know, there is a lot of congestion on the streets,” said Deborah Ale Flint, aviation director at the Port of Oakland. “The current service is not as reliable as the new service in regards to travel time and certainty of travel.”
According to Trost, BART aims to make the East Bay and Oakland more attractive to and competitive for business travelers and families.
“This couldn’t have come at better time, with the highest rate of travelers during (the holidays),” said Kim Bardakian, director of public relations and partnerships for Visit Oakland. “It’s a great way for people to jump right in and experience this.”
Since 1970, BART has planned to connect lines with the Oakland airport. Construction of the line began in 2011 after BART received appropriate funding and neighborhood approval.
The new service uses trains propelled by a cable system. A central control system, located at the Hegenberger Road station, houses real-time cameras to monitor the trains. The elevated rail, according to Trost, avoids the traffic that AirBART buses face.
“In the first year, we assume that the same amount of people using the (AirBART) bus will use this system — just shy of 3,000 people a day,” Trost said. “It is expected to grow by 500 people after two years. The idea is to make it very popular by offering a reliable way to (the Oakland airport).”
Because of the expected popularity of the line, BART has constructed the station to accommodate more trains in the future, if necessary.
“Now, the airport is connected to all three BART lines via the rail system,” Ale Flint said. “It is very quick — it will run every five minutes. It is a great addition to the airport and a big improvement.”