Test vehicles will soon travel on the Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) tracks as the Bay Area Rapid Transit District's (BART) project moves into one of the final phases before the anticipated opening for service this fall.
The first of the new test vehicles was unveiled on Tuesday at the OAC wheelhouse, the hub where 12-foot motorized wheels pull the cables that provide traction for the driverless vehicles.
“Passenger travel on the elevated guideway between Coliseum BART and the Oakland Airport Station is now less than a year away,” said BART Director Robert Raburn. “I’m heartened that the Oakland Airport Connector will boost development in Oakland and the fact that the project has already put local people to work.”
The test vehicle is the first of four that will travel along the 3.2 mile track, or guideway, between BART’s Oakland Airport/Coliseum Station and a new station next to the terminals at Oakland International Airport. The vehicles are being constructed in Oregon and shipped to the San Francisco Bay Area for final assembly on site. All are expected to be in testing this spring.
Once OAC opens to the public, trains will complete the trip in just eight minutes, 30 seconds. Total travel time, which includes walking from the BART Coliseum Station to the OAC platform and from OAC to the airport terminals, is expected to take 12 minutes to 14 minutes.
The OAC will replace the current AirBART buses, which drive through nine intersections on local streets and take 20 minutes to 25 minutes in ideal traffic conditions.
Fares for OAC have not yet been determined but are anticipated to be roughly equivalent to the $3 AirBART fare with the added advantage of allowing Clipper card holders to simply swipe their cards to pay.
The total cost of the project is $484 million and it is on time and on budget, according to BART. The project’s local hiring program is exceeding its goals, with 934 of the 1,508 on site workers being local area residents, 271 of whom are from Oakland.