It was just two years ago that the Bay Area Rapid Transit system launched service on its Airport Connector line from Coliseum Station to Oakland Airport. But now the line is having money problems in the face of competition from ride-sharing companies.
According to the East Bay Times, figures from BART indicate that the Oakland Connector line is losing money and seeing its ridership decline – even though the airport’s passenger numbers are rising. Specifically, instead of meeting BART’s initial expectation of a $2 million profit on the Airport Connector during its first two years, the line has lost $860,000. And during the third quarter of this year, rider numbers fell 4.5 percent from the same period a year earlier.
At the same time, the report noted, business on ride-sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Wingz has tripled. The fact that airport passenger numbers grew by 6 percent while BART’s Airport Connector ridership has dropped indicates to airport officials that the ride-sharing companies are benefiting at the expense of the mass transit line.
There has been some speculation that BART’s $6 fare for a ride to OAK might be too expensive compared with the convenience of door-to-door ridesharing service. BART officials defend the service, noting that the airport line coves 96 percent of its operating costs with passenger fares, vs. 76 percent for the BART system overall. Still, they say BART will take a comprehensive look at its fare structure in 2017, not just for the Oakland Airport Connector but for the whole system.
New airline service is boosting OAK’s passenger numbers. Southwest Airlines has been building up more domestic routes out of Oakland Airport, and transatlantic travelers are seeing new low-cost options from Norwegian Air Shuttle, which keeps adding European routes at OAK. Norwegian’s inauguration of Oakland-London Gatwick flights earlier this year has drawn a competitive response from British Airways, which will fly the same route starting in March 2017.
Have you used the BART connector or flown to or from Oakland lately? How does it compare to other Bay Area airports? Please leave your comments below.
In the market for a new credit card? See our “Credit Card Deals” tab to shop around! It helps us help you!