The Merc’s Mike Rosenberg reported today that BART station we all know and love (and some outsiders fear) servicing the Oakland Coliseum will be renamed.
Named Coliseum/Oakland Airport Station since 1977, @SFBART A’s, Raiders and airport stop will be renamed just Coliseum Station.
— Mike Rosenberg (@RosenbergMerc) September 9, 2013
Why? It has to do with the Oakland Airport Connector, the 3.2-mile, $484 million people mover which is scheduled to open in fall 2014. You’ve probably seen construction of the OAC’s metal guideway along Hegenberger, or the terminal just across the street from the BART platform.
In order to avoid confusion among air travelers, the BART station will simply be named “Coliseum” while the OAC station at the Airport end will be named “Airport“. BART Train operators have long had the practice of announcing the transfer method to the airport when approaching the stop. Expect that practice to continue with a longer explanation (no, the airport didn’t disappear!).
On the other hand, the OAC will not have train operators at all. It uses automated people mover technology, similar to SFO’s AirTrain or driverless shuttles at other airports (Denver, Atlanta, Tampa, New York JFK). The technology comes from Austrian firm Dopplmayr. In Australia I rode the Katoomba Scenic Railway, a cable car funicular that’s one of the steepest in the world. It’s also a Dopplmayr installation.
Like the recently opened Airtrain JFK, the OAC (a brand has not been announced yet) will require a fee, just like its AirBART bus predecessor. BART estimates that the fare could be up to $6 each way, twice as much as the old bus. By comparison, AirTrain JFK costs $5 and runs a longer route, 8 miles to the Jamaica transit hub in Queens.
OAC was highly controversial at its inception because of its high cost and limited usage, but the argument that it was better to have a more efficient route not tied to surface traffic won out. Hopefully the fares will be able to cover operating costs.
Besides the Coliseum and Airport terminals, a third station is under construction at Doolittle. A fourth station at Hegenberger and Coliseum Way was considered at one point, but was slashed due to cost. Given the high fare that’s probably a smart move, though it’s also something of a lost opportunity should Coliseum City come to fruition.