Controversial BART tram to Oakland Airport opens, but questions remain

By : sfexaminer – exerpt

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, along with state transportation officials and politicos of all stripes, stood with smiles frozen Friday as they waited for one last politician before finally cutting the ribbon for the new monorail connecting BART to Oakland International Airport.

It was an appropriate stall, analogous to the project’s 30-year holding pattern. The long haul finally concluded Saturday with the inaugural ride of the much-contested driverless tram…

The 3.2-mile connector was proposed decades ago and over the years created much controversy. Now operational, it picks up passengers at the Oakland Coliseum BART station and whisks them on a silky-smooth 8-minute ride to the front of the Oakland International Airport…

The new tram might be a big improvement from the bus shuttle it replaced, but it still has critics.

TransForm, a transportation advocacy group, says the new connector is a boondoggle — too costly with little potential for heavy ridership, and constructed at a time when nearly $5 billion in funding is needed for major systemwide improvements to the BART network.

“This is frankly going to serve 1 percent of the daily ridership,” said Joel Ramos, a community planner with TransForm…

TransForm and others also accused BART of not properly evaluating other projects that would intersect with different communities in and around the airport.

The complaint was ultimately sustained, and BART lost some federal funding as a result…

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