Published Sunday, June 22, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle
Stars come out for BART'S 1st run to SFO
Those who fought for long-awaited extension celebrate
By Ryan Kim
A dream 30 years in the making finally pulled into San Francisco
airport and it bore a striking resemblance to a gleaming BART train.
Dozens of dignitaries joined thousands of curious and excited
passengers in celebrating the long-awaited extension of BART to San
Francisco International Airport with a sneak glimpse Saturday
afternoon. A dedication ceremony and free preview run prepared the way
for today's start of regular service on the 8.7-mile extension.
Travelers buzzed with eager anticipation while an impressive assembly
of federal, state and local politicians waxed poetic about the
realization of a long-held goal.
"Thirty years ago, President Lyndon Johnson was in the Bay Area to
preside over the first groundbreaking BART ever had," said Gov. Gray
Davis, at a ceremony at the airport. "At that time, linking BART to
the airport was a distant dream. Well, today, my friends, this dream
has become a reality."
Davis joined Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta; California
Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer; and Reps. Nancy Pelosi,
D-San Francisco; Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek; and Tom Lantos, D-San
Mateo. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, BART Directors James Fang and
Dan Richard, and San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Quentin Kopp
were also among the many officials attending.
Like old war buddies trading harrowing stories, the politicians
marveled at their collective accomplishment in the face of long odds
and the cooperation and unity that finally brought about the extended
Kopp, who was instrumental in pushing the project, praised his peers
as well as local voters, who in 1994 decisively affirmed their desire
for the airport extension in a proposition advisory vote.
"I salute the Proposition I progenitors and voters, who kept the faith
with dogged determination, thus preventing a historical injustice,"
Kopp said. "For those who record history, make no mistake: without
Proposition I, we would not be so proud and so congratulatory today."
While officials ushered in the new era with speeches, swarms of people
at various stations lined up like visitors to Disneyland to take their
first ride to the airport. Their wait was prolonged for a time as the
airport festivities ran long, delaying trains in and out of the
"This is long overdue," said Jackie McMillen, 43, of San
Bruno. "People have been stuck in gridlock for years. We should be
able to get in and out of the city with ease."
AMONG THE FIRST
Alex Liu, 49, of Los Altos, had the good fortune to land at SFO
Saturday afternoon just in time to catch the first train to
Millbrae. He said the train provides a vital link between the Millbrae
Caltrain/BART station and the airport.
"It's great and it's convenient," said Liu, who flew in from a
business trip in England. "Before, I had to arrange rides to the
airport. Now I can just take Caltrain and BART to SFO."
Doris Morse, former mayor of Millbrae, was among the first to take the
inaugural ride on the extension. She said it confirmed all the work
she and so many others did to bring BART to the airport.
"I couldn't be more thrilled to see this line go up and to see that
the right people prevailed," Morse said.
E-mail Ryan Kim at rkim@...