'Modern' Cable Car Coming to Oakland in 2014

BART's Oakland Airport Connector will not look at all like the familiar cable car found across the Bay, but will be propelled by a moving cable similar to the Clay Street Hill RR in S.F. almost 140 years ago. The 3-mile ride to OAK will be 8 minutes.

Michael Cabanatuan, San Francisco Chronicle's transportation reporter, describes the 'back to the future' technology, progress, and background of the embattled "connector" from the Coliseum/Oakland Airport BART Station to Oakland International Airport (OAK).  

"(I)t will be a modern cable car, using a motorized cable to pull automated and driver-less three-car trains between BART and the airport in eight minutes. Doppelmayr/Garaventa, a Swiss and Austrian company ('the world market leader in ropeway engineering' according to their website), designed and will operate the system. The firm has constructed similar "people mover" systems in (1999 between) Las Vegas casinos and (in 2006) at Pearson International Airport in Toronto and other locales around the world."

"By this time in 2014, people will be able to take the connector to Oakland airport", stated Luna Salaver, a BART spokeswoman (and only one year later than was reported here in 2009).

Construction is 65% complete for the system that will run on guidways that are elevated, at ground level and in subway.

While planned prior to the 1972 opening of BART, it was the passing of the Alameda County sales tax measure for transportation in 2000 that provided $89 million to the connector that proved instrumental.

Controversy and setback.

However, critics, notably the transportation advocacy group, TransForm, called the $500 million project a 'boondoggle', preferring improvement of the existing AirBus shuttle, and then the project "lost $70 million of federal money in 2010 when federal officials decided BART had not done enough to get comments from minority and low-income communities." Funding was sought elsewhere.

The AirBus charges $3 and takes about 20 minutes, depending on traffic.  Ridership is 750,000.

"BART and airport officials project that 3.2 million passengers a year will pay between $4 and $6 each way to ride the Oakland Airport Connector", writes Cabanatuan.

Ridership apart, the high costs of airport connectors cause some analysts to question these investments.

Full Story: BART to airport connector is on track

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