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San Francisco's new airport link

NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS | NEWS, TIPS & BARGAINS

After years of delays, a BART train route set to open next week will whisk air passengers to downtown for a much lower fare than shuttles or taxis.

June 15, 2003|Jane Engle | Times Staff Writer

A long-awaited train link between San Francisco and its airport is scheduled to open June 22, with rides to downtown costing less than $5 each way.

The $1.5-billion project, in the works for decades and under construction since 1998, will give visitors an alternative to shuttles, which charge about $14 and up each way to downtown, and taxis, which typically run about $40 and up with tip, depending on traffic, for the same trip.

The new Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, extension also will give San Francisco International Airport a leg up on Oakland's airport, a popular alternative, which has no direct train access. (Arriving passengers at Oakland must take a shuttle bus to BART's Coliseum station.)

The link to the San Francisco airport is part of an 8.7-mile train extension that will add four stations starting June 22: at the airport and in South San Francisco, San Bruno and Millbrae.

At the airport, the station is in the lower level of the international terminal. Passengers who arrive at other terminals can hop on the free AirTrain, opened earlier this year, which travels a five-mile circuit linking the terminals and the rental car center.

From the airport station, it will take about half an hour to get to BART's Powell Street station in downtown San Francisco and about 40 minutes to get to downtown Oakland, said Ron Rodriguez, BART spokesman. One-way fares will be $4.70 to Powell Street, $4.95 to Oakland and $5.15 to downtown Berkeley. (Fares vary by distance.)

From Millbrae and the airport to San Francisco, trains will run every 15 minutes from about 4 a.m. to midnight weekdays, 6 a.m. to midnight Saturdays and 8 a.m. to midnight Sundays.

The BART link's scheduled opening follows years of delays. Funding holdups, construction mishaps and the discovery of a dead garter snake belonging to an endangered species -- which raised environmental concerns -- are among the reasons the opening has been repeatedly postponed.

To make the June 22 deadline, "we'll push the trains if we have to," Rodriguez joked.

For more information, call (415) 989-2278 or visit www.bart.gov.

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