Setting aside the fact that BART probably spent way too much money to build the auto-piloted tramway connecting Coliseum Station and Oakland Airport, BART now says that the $500 million boondoggle isn't even breaking even, and it's because of rideshare services.
BART spokesman Jim Allison tells the Chronicle's Matier & Ross, "We didn’t anticipate Uber and Lyft and the others, and that’s hurting us."
While Uber and Lyft ridership to the airport are up, the number of riders on the connector has slipped below the 2,800 a day (at $6 per fare) needed for the connector to break even, budget-wise, with an annual operating cost of $6.1 million. Running the tram has actually cost BART $860,000 over the past two years as more and more non-solo travelers opt car services rather than lugging luggage on BART.
And as the Mercury News noted when this revenue shortfall was first reported last fall, social justice advocates also argued that low-income riders on the BART system and, perhaps, airport employees can't benefit from a connector that costs an extra $6 each way to use.
BART may not have anticipated the rideshare market back when this project was conceived sometime last decade, but they've been ever-present in our lives since at least about 2012, and this thing didn't even make it open until late 2014, at a way over-budget cost of $484 million. (And on a personal note, having just used the connector for the first time recently, BART hasn't exactly done a great job of pointing passengers to its entrance when they exit trains on the Coliseum platform, so maybe people are just walking out the street confused, saying "Screw it," and calling cars.)
That being said, the trip from downtown SF to Oakland Airport is now actually a bit faster than the trip to SFO via BART, especially if you need to get on the AirTrain once you arrive at SFO Coliseum is just the fourth stop once you're on the Oakland side, FYI.
Somehow BART will have to compensate for this new red line in their ledgers, and Robert Raburn, vice president of the BART Board of Directors in whose district the connector lives, tells the Chronicle, "It’s the latest chapter in a long, ugly history of the line."
Previously: Oakland Airport Connector Already Experiencing Breakdowns Due To Windblown Trash