Thursday, June 07, 2007

BART plans to screw Caltrain connection to SFO

After the bitter divorce between BART and SamTrans over the SFO extension, BART is proposing to enhance service south of Daly City.

As a part of the proposal, to be voted by the BART Board of Directors on June 14, the Millbrae station would receive mainline service from San Francisco bypassing the SFO station. During weekday and Saturday daytime, Richmond line would serve Millbrae. At other times, the Dublin line would serve Millbrae. The SFO station would be served by the Pittsburg line at all times.

The proposed plan is almost like the original operating pattern in 2003 when the extension first opened for service. BART discontinued that pattern because of the lack of ridership and SamTrans had to pay for the operating shortfall on the extension.

What was not mentioned in the press release is the service between SFO and Millbrae. Through various sources, VTA Watch has confirmed that BART is planning NOT to have a direct service between SFO and Millbrae. Passengers traveling between these two stations would have to transfer at the San Bruno station. The BART station in San Bruno is located one mile north of the San Bruno Caltrain station.

Before 2003, the connection between Caltrain and SFO was provided by a free shuttle that met most trains and made stops at all airline terminals. Since then, passengers have to pay a $1.50 fare for a one station ride on BART to the International Terminal. The proposed plan would still require passengers to pay but would also force them to make an additional transfer. The BART extension was partly sold as an improvement for the Caltrain riders heading to the airport, but that promise was never fulfilled.

SamTrans, however, is not promising whether it can provide any alternative service (like restoring the shuttle bus) for the Caltrain riders heading to SFO. SamTrans is still in a bad financial shape after divorcing from BART and gave up its share of Prop. 1b transit funds. SamTrans is currently demanding payment from San Francisco and Santa Clara counties for the purchase of the Caltrain right of way from Southern Pacific in 1991, which SamTrans fronted the local funding in full. VTA is balking its obligation to SamTrans and Caltrain while dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the San Jose BART extension consultant blackhole.

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