In the 90s, when BART was planning to extend BART to SFO from Daly City/Colma, some public officials, notably then-State Senator Quentin Kopp, wanted BART to directly serve the airport terminals, and successfully sought voter approval in San Francisco for the concept. Consequently, the airport (with tenant airlines not eager to pay for BART via fees) insisted to extend the line further from SFO to Millbrae via a wye so that BART would not terminate at the airport and becoming a transfer point for non-airport users. However, Peninsula Rail 2000 was concerned about the rising cost of the BART extension and its implication on Caltrain, since the line to Millbrae would be positioned for further extension south replacing Caltrain.
Peninsula Rail 2000, along with other public officials and interest groups on the Peninsula, formed the Coalition for a One-Stop Terminal (COST), to advocate for a single shared station between BART and Caltrain on the west side of 101 outside the airport terminals. BART and Caltrain riders would access the terminals via AirTrain.
The coalition pursued litigation and other efforts to demand BART to fully consider the one stop alternative but was unsuccessful. Ultimately BART built a station at SFO and Millbrae. However the wye concept complicated its operation. The train frequency at SFO and Millbrae is lower than they could’ve been, more difficult for BART and Caltrain to coordinate transfers, and no direct service between Caltrain and SFO except on nights and weekends.
We believe that a one-stop transfer station for all modes would lower operating cost and increase ridership with better frequency and overall experience. An example of a one-stop intermodal station serving an airport is the Metro Rail/Tri-Rail station at Miami Airport, where the platforms of both systems are co-located, along with the consolidated car rental facility, and connected to the airport terminals via an automated people mover.
|Steps||Before 2003, when BART didn’t serve SFO||Current stations||One stop station|
|BART to Caltrain||No direct transfer||Transfer at Millbrae, BART every 15 min||Transfer at the joint stop, BART every 7 min|
|BART to International terminal, terminal 3||Bus from BART direct to terminals||Walk from BART to terminals||AirTrain from BART to terminals|
|BART to terminals 1, 2||Bus from BART direct to terminals||AirTrain or long walk from BART to terminals||AirTrain from BART to terminals|
|Caltrain to International terminal, terminal 3||Shuttle from Caltrain direct to terminals||Transfer to BART (need to transfer at San Bruno during weekday daytime) and walk from BART to terminals||AirTrain from Caltrain to terminals|
|Caltrain to terminals 1, 2||Shuttle from Caltrain direct to terminals||Transfer to BART (need to transfer at San Bruno during weekday daytime) and AirTrain or long walk from BART to terminals||AirTrain from Caltrain to terminals|
In its EIR, BART promised to provide free service for Caltrain riders heading to the airport as a mitigation for the loss of shuttle service, but that promise was never delivered. The fare is more than $4 for a must-transfer journey. While it was also proposed to extend AirTrain from the Rental Car center to Caltrain in San Bruno (alternative 3B on the map above), such extension would be co-dependent on extending AirTrain first to United Airlines Maintenance base. Neither the airport or Caltrain took the plan seriously and was quickly dropped.
No wonder why many airport travelers on Caltrain don’t take this option seriously and would rather hop on a cab or a TNC car between Millbrae and SFO.
» BART to SFO is Everything Wrong with Bay Area Transit, Pedestrian Observations – Alon Levy
» Rail-SFO Connections in Political Tangle – PR2000 Newsletter May 1997