San Francisco (BART to Airport)

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BART to San Francisco International Airport

San Francisco, California

(November 1996)


The new Locally Preferred Alternative selected in November 1995 by the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and San Mateo County Transit District (SamTrans) boards is an 8.2-mile,4-station BART extension south from the Colma BART Station through Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, an east-west aerial "wye" (Y) stub perpendicular to the CalTrain alignment into the San Francisco International Airport (SFO), which terminates at a Millbrae Avenue BART/CalTrain Station. This alternative is estimated to cost.$1.167 billion. Ridership is projected to be 68,600 trips per day by 2010.


Section 3032(c) of ISTEA directed FTA to approve the construction of the Locally Preferred Alternative for the BART San Francisco Airport Extension, including Phase 1a to Colma and Phase 1b to San Francisco International Airport. Section 3032(c)(2) mandated the execution of a multiyear grant agreement with BART to permit expenditure of funds for the construction of the BART-SFO Extension.

An Alternatives Analysis/Draft EIS/EIR was completed in 1992, resulting in a locally preferred alternative. New alignments were later evaluated and, in April 1995, BART and SamTrans revised the preferred alternative. Due to MTC and congressional direction to evaluate lower cost options, an aerial design option to the tunnel alignment into the Airport was evaluated in a Focused Recirculated DEIR/Supplemental #2 DEIS. The final EIS was completed in June 1996 and an ROD was issued in August 1996.

In November 1996, FTA responded to congressional requests for information and recommended issuance of a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA).

The BART-SFO project is one of the projects participating in the FTA Turnkey Demonstration Program. ISTEA initiated this program to determine if the turnkey (design/build) approach will reduce implementation time and cost.

Through FY 1997, $242.59 million of the $512.8 million of Section 5309 New Start funds (authorized by ISTEA FY 1992-97) has been appropriated for the San Francisco Bay Area and allocated by the MTC among the Colma BART extension, the BART-SFO project, and the Tasman LRT project. In accordance with the regional Memorandum of Understanding executed in December 1993, the affected agencies are currently working with MTC to determine future allocations. The Colma BART extension opened for revenue service in February 1996.


The BART-SFO Extension is exempt from the Section 5309(e) new start criteria because the Section 5309 New Start share of the regional rail program is less than 33 percent.

Mobility Improvements - The BART extension to the Airport would improve transit access from San Francisco and the East Bay to the Airport and would also improve transit service along the Peninsula to San Francisco. The project would increase transit ridership on BART and CalTrain and increase regional transit ridership by 23,200 over the No-Build in 2010 and 13,600 over the TSM. Daily travel time savings would be 6,900 hours over the TSM.

Cost Effectiveness - The cost-effectiveness index is $20 per new transit rider.

Environmental Benefits - The Bay Area has been redesignated as an attainment area for ozone. To maintain this designation, the project would reduce daily vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by 485,000 in year 2010 versus the No-Build Alternative. Carbon monoxide emissions would be reduced by 1,235 tons per year.

The project would remove 10.5 acres of wetlands and upland habitat of threatened and endangered species. Mitigation measures are being developed in coordination with Federal and state resource agencies.

Operating Efficiencies - The systemwide operating cost per passenger is estimated to be $2.51 for the No-Build, $2.52 for the TSM and $2.56 for the BART Extension in 2010.


A regional financing agreement has tied this project to other fixed guideway projects in the Bay Area. The plan calls for 100 percent local funding of East Bay projects and 64 percent Section 5309 funding for this project, resulting in a 27 percent Section 5309 funding share of the region's fixed guideway extension program. The non-Federal funding would come from the local and state sources noted below. Although state bonding referendums failed in 1992 and 1994, the BART extension money included in the referendums has been replaced by other state funds.

The capital finance plan is rated "medium." More than half of the non-Federal funds are in place and the remaining sources have been identified. SamTrans has committed $99 million pursuant to a 1990 agreement with BART. There is $98 million in state gasoline sales tax funds committed to the project. An additional $10 million in state rail transit bond revenues was approved for the project in 1990. Pursuant to a 1989 toll increase on Bay Area bridges, the MTC has $10 million available for the project. The San Francisco Airports Commission has identified $200 million that will be made available through the issuance of General Airport Revenue Bonds.

The stability and reliability of operating funds are rated "medium." BART and SamTrans derive operating revenues from a 0.5 percent dedicated transaction and use tax and from fare revenue. BART also has a dedicated property tax. SamTrans and BART appear to have the ability to fund system operations under expanding economic conditions. BART's projections of sales tax revenue growth seem conservative in comparison with trend data. The financial plan assumes substantial fare increases in 1996 and 1997. In 1994, the average age of the SamTrans bus fleet was 4 years, which is better than the national average of 8.3 years. BART's rail vehicles averaged 16.7 years old.

Proposed Source of Funds Total Funding
Federal: Section 5309 New Start $750.00 ($83.92 million appropriated through FY 1997
Airport Commission: $200.00
State/Local: $217.00
Total: $1,167.00

Note: Funding proposal reflects assumptions made by project sponsors, and are not DOT or FTA assumptions.

Map of an 8.2-mile,4-station BART extension south from the Colma BART Station through Colma, South San Francisco, San Bruno, an east-west aerial