Monday, November 17, 2008

Airport Rapid Streetcar?

It seems that BART has decided not to build a People Mover (NOT a light rail system as it says in the article) to Oakland Airport due to cost issues. The route is 3 miles long and while they state that they have already raised $250 million dollars, they still need $130 million more. Are they insane? Would it really take $380 million to go three miles??? A single track BART spur with a passing siding would be cheaper it seems.

If the money is already raised, why not build a rapid streetcar line between the Colosseum and the Airport terminal with limited stops. Currently the bus line comes every 10 minutes or so and actually makes money. One of the reasons is because its so packed all the time. There have been a few times when I have had to wait for 2 buses to pass in order to get to the airport. Even if the separated the streetcar from traffic, it would not cost $122 million per mile.

With the route I've drawn out below, it would promote office development and for more than just airport riders to take the line and provide a direct link to the airport. It would however be a little bit longer at 3.9 miles, but would get its own lanes and have a consistent travel time. I'm also pushing it through the stadiums because at some point, this land will be much too valuable to just leave as a parking lot and should develop more like urban ballparks and stadiums around the country with proximity to transit. This line could also use value capture strategies to fund improvements or the line itself.


At 3.9 miles, you could certainly build the rapid streetcar for the $250 million already raised. I bet they could have some money left over for other projects.

11 comments:

Matt said...

Speaking of BART & San Jose, I just noticed that Santa Clara Measure B is now passing by the slimmest of margins.

One more transit measure looking like a winner, albeit a very close vote. I think BART to SJ is looking like an inevitability. No sense in trying to stop it, you can only hope to contain it and make it better. :)

jon said...

My plan for a BART line that serves Oakland Airport and many parts of Oakland. Just drew it up in google maps a few days ago...

MacArthur Blvd. BART
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=EN&ie=UTF8&msa=0&msid=112560993119946435092.00045b9bbe9b786c73a4e&t=h&ll=37.770986,-122.210541&spn=0.116017,0.263672&z=13

Re: BART to SJ, they'll be having nightmares tonight over at BATN and SF Cityscape. I personally dont understand why so many transit advocates in the bay area are so against BART to SJ. sure its expensive and VTA has major problems but its a huge gap in the bay area transit network and the bay area does not need another small transit agency to fill the gap. bart already goes so close to sj its ridiculous to have it end at sj's doorstep. its too bad the vta didnt waste $300 million on buying new lrt cars and making the whole system low floor. and now with hsr, caltrain's electrification and grade seperation should be taken care of and paid.

Anonymous said...

A born again baby Key System!

Pantograph Trolleypole said...

That looks great Jon. I would think though that you would need more Emeryville in there. That is a route that Eric at Transbay Blog and I have both drawn though. I think you should start pushing for it at MTC.

Joshua Vincent said...

There is a correlation between a transit program and increased site values which may be captured to pay for said system. Transport of London discovered through research of market sales that the mere announcement of such a project made land prices shoot upwards.

The private landowner should not be the beneficiary of community-created value. Any increase in the site value should go back to the public treasury and the builder around those sites should be able to construct with due profit.

Winston said...

The current bus system (AirBART) is as quick as the proposed monorail would have been and is actually profitable. A streetcar as you have proposed would have neither of these attributes. There are FAR, FAR better places to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on transit infrastructure (say, a streetcar connecting BART to Jack London Square and other parts of Oakland). Really all that AirBART needs is better signage and, perhaps, a queue jumping lane at a couple of the traffic lights if you want to be really extravagant.

Ian said...

I see your recommendation, and raise you integration with a new, full Oakland Streetcar Network (Key 2.0?).

Mostly because I'm a little fed up with so much transit balkanization in the Bay Area, it'd be nice to have a little consistency...

and @winston
I strongly disagree, fixed-rail transit can spur growth in a way that buses *never* can. It's faster on its own right-of way, more comfortable (they can run more frequently, so it wont just be standing-room only), and cleaner (no diesel fumes, yuck.)

Winston said...

Ian,

First, my objection was not to fixed guideway transit in general, nor was it to streetcars. It was to running a streetcar from the airport BART station to the airport. Such a plan would be slower than the existing buses because of the large number of stops suggested, just as vulnerable to traffic congestion and more expensive. Also, if your goal is to spur denser development then you should focus your efforts on where there is the greatest potential for more density. Being next to an airport limits the kinds and intensity of land use possible for a given parcel.
Adding a few buses to AirBART would solve its (few) problems (I've never had any trouble getting on a bus due to crowding) far more cheaply than a fixed guideway solution and would allow the RM-2 money planned for the project to be used for something more useful.

jon said...

good point about emeryville, not sure whether to treat the east bay bridge shopping center as something to work around (afterall i remember when it was built 12-15 or so years ago) or to plow right through it since it is a suburban-style big box center at half life. the redeveloped land (and former key system yards) could make a great dense TOD neighborhood. ideally would like to have the line hit the emeryville amtrak/powell st/bay street area though that could be a big deviation away.

its good that there are a number of us who have come to the same conclusion on a macarthur route. while i just drew it in google maps a few days ago, i didnt just come up with it now, i posted this route a few years ago on the skyscraperpage forum. it'll probably never happen for cost and complexity reasons but if bart is going to focus on urban areas there could be some hope for something like it (along with a geary subway). and that said if youre going to do urban bart lines there arent a lot of potential corridors and probably is little more than geary and macarthur blvd. but with a macarthur bart route added, all of a sudden oakland has excellent rapid rail coverage.

one thing is clear, there needs to be a quality link between the coliseum bart station and the oakland airport. another lost opportunity was building that walmart and shopping center along the route which was originally going to be a dense office complex focused around the people mover station.

Jerard said...

When I was in Oakland in January to fly home, and I was riding on the AirBART Shuttle to Oakland, I kept thinking with most of the open industrial land, a dedicated right of-way and a few grade separations is all they need to build a rapid-street car or even high speed track guided busway from there to the Airport and would cost a whole lot less and move a lot of people.

jon said...

i remember one time going to the oakland airport and for some reason the airport traffic was literally backed all the way up to 880. it was taking about an hour to travel this mile or two to the airport. this was 5 or 6 years ago when I was just about to move away from oakland so I'm not sure how common this traffic is now, but if so then bus lanes are essential especially is no fixed guideway rail is built.

but bus lanes can be a lot like bike lanes in that they are placed only in short stretches where it is easy to place them not where they are necessarily needed like congested and high traffic areas.