If you wait a while, everything will come back in style.
The new Airport Connector train from the Coliseum BART station to the Oakland Airport rolls out of the Coliseum on an elevated track smooth as butter, pulled by a cable.
That’s right, the latest thing in Bay Area transportation is a cable car, good old 1800s technology, just like the cars that climb California Street in San Francisco.
Of course, this new cable car is computer-controlled and everything, and the cars run on rubber tires, not steel wheels. So it’s a modernized version of Andrew Hallidie’s invention. Hallidie built the first cable car up Clay Street because he couldn’t stand the site of horses suffering as they pulled street cars up San Francisco’s steep hills.
The AirBART train has a wheelhouse, just like the Cable Car Barn in San Francisco, where electric motors turn big wheels to keep the cables moving. Between the Coliseum BART station and the wheelhouse on Hegenberger Road, the modern car rolls past the Coliseum, over the foundation of the demolished White Front store, and over the Nimitz Freeway.
The automated trains that started running on Saturday don’t have an operator on board. From the front of the car you can look out the windshield and see the cable running between the tracks.
The car runs over the median on Hegenberger past the Walmart and the hotels. It makes a 20 second stop at the wheelhouse as the train releases one cable and grabs another for the rest of the trip to the airport.
The 3.2 mile trip from BART to the airport takes 9 minutes and costs $6. So from the San Leandro BART station, the one-way trip to the airport will cost $7.85 – the cost to Coliseum BART, plus $6.
The $484 million Airport Connector had opposition because of its high cost. Some people believed the airport connector busses did the job, providing a direct link to the airport from BART.
Opponents say the nearly half-billion dollar connector benefits the jet set at the expense of people who ride BART to work every day. But most riders say it’s an improvement on getting to the airport.
One woman from Concord said she was glad she didn’t have to take the airport bus anymore because of the guys who hung out at the Coliseum station waiting for a confused traveler to “help” you with your luggage.