BART plans Oakland Airport extension opening for Thanksgiving

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Still in the test phase, the new BART trains are almost ready for their public unveiling. Same goes for the signage, the escalators and the lights at the new stations.

It has been talked about for nearly 40 years, the extension from the Coliseum BART station to the Oakland Airport, but now the three mile stretch is nearly complete and ready for its debut, perhaps as soon as Thanksgiving.

The cars are streamlined. They run on rails but also have rubber tires. There are few seats and lots of room for luggage, but no operator. Everything will be controlled remotely.

"We're just in final testing," said BART spokesperson Molly McArthur.

The hope is to roll out the new system before the Thanksgiving holiday when rides to the airport will be in peak demand.

"I think we'd all like to see it before the end of the month. We'd certainly like to get in before the holidays, but safety first," explained McArthur.

Once the extension does get the green light, those who do choose to take the train from the Coliseum BART station will have to walk up a ramp or take an escalator to a new station that's open and airy. There is also colorful artwork etched into the glass.

"Things are moving along as planned," said BART Board Member Robert Raburn.

He is pleased with what he sees, but still wonders if the $484 million cost will be worth it in the long run. After all, in 2002, the BART Board approved a project that was estimated to cost just $232 million.

"I did not approve the debt service that BART had to go into on this project, but I did work hard to make sure the project was delivered," said Rabum.

The fare for the BART to OAK extension will be $6 - twice the amount riders now pay on the existing AirBART bus service.
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