BART sets $6 fare for Oakland airport tram

BART directors voted today to set the fare for the new 3.2-mile connector from the Oakland Coliseum station to the Oakland International Airport at $6.

The fee for the new driverless service on the elevated track, which is scheduled to begin this fall, is double the $3 fee for AirBART, a shuttle bus that currently takes airport passengers from the Coliseum station to the airport.

But BART officials say the connector will provide faster and more reliable service than the bus because it won’t be slowed by street traffic.

Transit agency officials said they might charge lower temporary promotional fares at some point in the future and seniors, people with disabilities and children age 12 and under will be eligible for a 62.5 percent discount.

BART officials said they also plan to recommend at a future board meeting that airport employees continue to pay a discounted fare of $2 for the trip between the Coliseum station and the airport.

The $6 fee approved by the board today was the most expensive option it considered, as it also explored the possibility of charging $4 or $5.

According to a recent financial analysis by BART, there’s a tradeoff between higher fares and projected ridership on the new service.

With a $4 fare, the analysis projected that 3,350 people a day would use the airport connector in its first full year of service but the transit agency would lose $7 million on the service.

The analysis said that at the $5 level, ridership would drop to 3,290 people a day but the loss would decrease to $6.5 million.

With a $6 fare, ridership would drop a little more, to 3,225 people a day, but the loss would fall to $5.5 million, according to the analysis.

Transit agency officials say the connector will have four three-car trains that will depart every four minutes and make the trip between the Coliseum station and the airport in less than 15 minutes, with each train being able to carry 113 passengers and their luggage.

BART officials say the airport connector project is on time and on budget and 27 percent of the construction jobs and 59 percent of the apprenticeship hours have gone to Oakland residents.

— Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News