The BART board of directors voted 7-1 yesterday to award $440 million in contracts for an elevated tram between the Coliseum BART station and Oakland airport. The controversial project, which has been criticized by transit activists as being a boondoggle, is expected to be completed in 2013 at a total cost of $492 million. The tram will take about 14 minutes to take passengers from BART to the airport, including wait time. The tram proposal had been considered dead in the water, but was revived thanks to $70 million in federal stimulus money.
Transit activists strongly opposed the tram and made a convincing argument that a rapid bus system would work just as well and be far cheaper. The tram is expected to cost $12 per round trip, in addition to the regular BART fare. But business groups and the construction trades lobbied intensely for the project, arguing that it will produce much-needed jobs and provide passengers with a seamless connection to the airport.