Kaval pitches gondola to link Howard Terminal, Downtown Oakland

That’s right. Matier and Ross are reporting that, absent a BART link to Jack London Square and Howard Terminal, A’s President Dave Kaval is proposing a cable car or gondola to link the waterfront to Downtown Oakland.

Oakland and BART have experience working with this type of transportation before, having built the $500 million Oakland Airport Connector from the Coliseum to the airport. It was built by Doppelmayr, an Austrian firm with plenty of experience building similar systems for ski lifts and other urban environments.

The need for an alternative may be guided by this revelation:

then BART General Manager Grace Crunican recently slammed the door on the idea of building a new BART station near Howard Terminal, claiming it was technically infeasible — not to mention that the price tag would be in the stratosphere.

Many transit advocates were hoping for a Howard Terminal BART station to be useful for a second transbay BART crossing. It still remains to be seen if that will ever get beyond the planning stages. The 2004 JLS Feasibility study covered BART and streetcar links to JLS, but it didn’t investigate an aerial tram.

A possible JLS gondola would have to soar from 50-60 feet above I-880 as the freeway travels above downtown. That would make for a very scenic, but brief trip to and from the ballpark. The Airport Connector ride costs $6 each way atop your regular BART fare, so I would imagine that a ride for the shorter JLS line might cost $3-4 per person each way.

The question is, who pays for it? Riders could if they were locked into the fare gate system as they are at Coliseum BART. The experience would be different for JLS-downtown, as you’ll invite patrons who might want to park downtown and then take the gondola. An A’s ticket surcharge would help during games, but what about others who go to JLS/HT for other reasons? And who would foot the construction cost? This Cable Car is Over My Head, indeed.

16 thoughts on “Kaval pitches gondola to link Howard Terminal, Downtown Oakland

  1. I checked out the gondola idea and spoke to the vender. It has very limited capacity. If packed it would be very. uncomfortable. Likely to take 20 minutes.

  2. I am not sure if this is a good or bad idea, or if it’s even feasible.

    But, I got to give the A’s credit for thinking of alternative ways to get things done. Oakland has been wondering how it could make JLS a destination for tourist, and locals for decades. Something like this would help to bring that about.

  3. Kaval is the comedic gift that just keeps giving. What a tool

  4. Could the A’s be seizing on the opportunity to extract a bit more from the city re infrastructure, w/the knowledge that there are multiple suitors for the Coliseum complex? The city gets a tenant that can generate increased foot traffic and revenue to JLS and get out from under the debt left over from Mt Davis through Hall/Tesla buying the Coliseum land.

  5. Right. So Coliseum site it is…

  6. I have a solution that makes too much sense. Relocate Laney College, including most it not all its educational, administrative, and athletic facilities to the sprawling Coliseum property This would in effect free up the current Laney athletic fields right next to Lake Merritt for the new A’s ballpark at the most ideal Oakland locale for a MLB ballpark.. At the sprawling Coliseum campus, Laney would then have one of the best campus locations anywhere for an urban commuter based two year College program that could easily expand to four year degree college programs as well as at the graduate level, too .

    • I’d be down for that, but you’d still have the NIMBYism that also seemed to plague the announcement. I would also imagine you’d have HUGE howls from the students and profs alike…

    • @ llpec

      That makes too much sense, which of course means it will never be done (unfortunately)

    • @llpec & LS/N – Why would Peralta want two campuses in East Oakland a couple miles from each other? That’s what you’re suggesting. One reason Laney was built near Lake Merritt & Downtown was to serve the greatest number of people – Downtown, North, and West Oakland.

      • They probably would not. If it was moved further east it would not be as centrally located, and as you mentioned they do have a campus in the East Oakland hills, however that campus is not easy to get to, as well as time consuming on public transportation.

        But, to your point again, I believe they closed another community college in North Oakland several years back, so students that would have utilized that campus (in the past), have to already go to Laney, or Alameda and going further east would make it that much more difficult for them.

        It would be nice if the money was available to build a new campus at the coliseum site, in that case I would say the students may not mind as much about the location, hay between North/West/ Downton Oakland, and the coliseum there is BART that runs through most of the city where the students would be coming from. So, a mega junior college/training school at that location is not the worst idea, but like everything else it’s about the money.

      • @Marine Layer, The Peralta college system is currently facing serious financial problems. it makes much better economic and financial sense to consolidate its campuses into one main super campus. By doing so, a new easily accessible East Oakland campus could be built at the Coliseum site with state of the art facilities and would avoid the unnecessary duplication of educational operations as is in the current situation.

      • @llpec – What kind of capital budget does Peralta have to do this campus consolidation you speak of? How much will it cost? $2 billion? More? Selling the Peralta and/or Laney land to the A’s is not going to make a dent in the development cost.

    • I made this very suggestion to Dave Kaval back in August before they selected the Peralta site. Here’s a copy and paste from part of my email:

      …I just finished taking the survey which was put out by the A’s. I’m personally in favor of the Peralta site, because of it’s proximity to downtown Oakland, and BART. Though it is the site I chose in the survey, it is not my preferred site. My preferred site would be the Laney College site.

      That site is even closer to BART, but more importantly, it’s away from 880. Has there ever been any discussion/thought about relocating Laney College to the existing Coliseum site? I realize this would require an enormous financial commitment on the part of the A’s, but I think such a move would pay for its self over the course of time. The Laney site would allow the A’s to move the ballpark across the street to a much more attractive parcel away from 880. It would also create the possibility of incorporating a larger ballpark village, as well as addressing some of the parking issues associated with the Peralta site. I’m sure one of the concerns of Laney College should a ballpark be built on the Peralta site would be the traffic and parking problems on game day. Those problems would be alleviated with a relocation to the Coliseum site. The college would still have easy access to BART and 880.

      You often times refer to the site selection as a “generational decision”. I couldn’t agree with you more. Which is why if you’re going to build a ballpark, why not consider building it in the most attractive location, and one which will serve as an anchor for the neighborhood and the city? A ballpark on the Laney site with a creatively design village surrounding it would transform that section of Oakland, much in the same way AT&T helped transform the China Basin area of San Francisco. Having control of the land surrounding the ballpark would allow the A’s to develop a village which would seamlessly tie in with the ballpark. Again I realize such plan would require a lot of money and negotiating with the college. But if you’re going to do it, why not consider doing it right?…

      His response to my email was:

      “Thanks for the thoughts Kevin, I agree with most of them!”

  7. I could not have stated it any better the case for building the new A’s ballpark at the Laney athletic fields site and for relocating Laney College to the Coliseum site.

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