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"BARTís Oakland airport connector turning into big money loser"


 
Thursday, March 9, 2017

BARTís Oakland airport connector turning into big money loser
By Matier & Ross
The San Francisco (CA) Chronicle


Ridership on BARTís connector to the Oakland airport has been dropping below 
the 2,800 rides needed for the line to break even.
BART officials had hoped their $500 million connector to Oakland International 
Airport would be a money maker ó but instead it has wound up costing the 
financially beleaguered transit agency $860,000 in the past two years, as 
ridership has dropped below the break-even point.

ďWe didnít anticipate Uber and Lyft and the others, and thatís hurting us,Ē 
said BART spokesman Jim Allison.

Oakland International reports that the number of airline passengers taking 
ride-hailing services to and from the airport totaled more than 11 percent in 
January ó up from 7 percent in July.

With the competition, ridership on BARTís connector has been dropping below the 
2,800 rides a day needed to cover the lineís $6.1 million annual operating 
costs.

That wasnít always the case. In the months following its November 2014 opening, 
the line was averaging 3,200 daily riders ó or about 400 over the break-even 
point.

No more. For the past three months, ridership has been down an average of 11 
percent over the same time a year earlier.

ďThe feeling is that while taking BART may be a good deal for solo travelers, 
for families and groups of people, the ride-shares are more affordable,Ē said 
Robert Raburn, vice president of the BART Board of Directors, whose district 
includes the line.

The explanation for the decline appears to be a combination of cost and 
convenience.

Case in point: A solo traveler taking BART from Walnut Creek to the airport 
needs to buy a ticket to the Coliseum Station for $3.85 and pay an additional 
$6 for the ride on the connector to the airport, for a total of $9.85. Thatís 
for a ride with two transfers ó one at MacArthur Station in Oakland, and 
another at the Coliseum.

For a family of four, the hassle is just the same ó and the bill is $39.40.

ďItís the latest chapter in a long, ugly history of the line,Ē said Raburn, who 
was never a fan of the connector.

When it was proposed, the cost of the 3.2-mile elevated tram line was put at 
about $134 million. By the time work began in 2010, the cost had risen to about 
$500 million ó requiring BART to issue $110 million in bonds to pay for it.

Despite the growing costs, the project was propelled forward because it was 
seen as a boon for the airport and a job creator in the midst of the post-2008 
economic crash.

Now, however, itís a headache for BART ó and another red line in the systemís 
looming $477 million budget deficit over the next decade.
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