The new BART connector from the Coliseum Station to Oakland International Airport started running Saturday morning, officially replacing the AirBART shuttle bus system that had been hauling passengers between the station and the airport for nearly 30 years.
Before service on the new line started, the $484 million transit project made its debut Friday with two hours of free rides open to the community. The celebration served as the opening of two new stations, one next to the Coliseum Station and the other near Terminal 1 at the airport. The opening was also the premiere of the new three-car automated “people-mover” trains that take about 8 minutes and 30 seconds to reach the airport, moving at about 30 miles per hour. The trains arrive every five minutes.
Residents from throughout the Bay Area—even a retired BART director who worked for the agency in the 1970s and 80s—made the special midday trip to the new station to ride the 3.4 miles of new rail. The route, which closely follows the path the shuttle bus took along Hegenberger Road, towers above the street, passing the Metropolitan Golf Links course, airport parking lots, airport hotels and the Interstate 880 freeway.
A few riders shared their experiences riding on the new track, and their thoughts on the line that was conceptualized in the 1970s, but didn’t get approved until 2002. Contractors were chosen in 2009 and construction began in 2011, finishing in time for Thanksgiving and winter travel this year. Play the photo slideshow above to hear their stories.