Millbrae's BART station to be 4x busier than SFO's
- Published Monday, April 21, 2003, in the San Francisco Chronicle
Busiest new BART station to be Millbrae -- not SFO
Beyond the airport, Caltrain transfer will link to the Peninsula,
By Michael Cabanatuan
Chronicle Staff Writer
BART's much-anticipated 8.7-mile extension down the Peninsula has
become known in Bay Area parlance as "BART to SFO" or "the airport
But maybe they should call it "the Millbrae extension" or "BART to
After all, the $1.5 billion project -- whose June 22 opening was
announced Thursday -- doesn't end at San Francisco International
Airport. The end of the line is Millbrae.
And while travelers, tourists and airport employees will fill many of
the cushioned seats, commuters from the Peninsula and the South Bay
are expected to flock to the extension -- especially the Millbrae
That station -- not SFO -- is expected to be the extension's busiest,
in large part because it will house both BART and Caltrain, making
transfers between the rail systems quick and convenient. And it will
also be served by 10 SamTrans bus routes.
"It's the big one," said Molly MacArthur, a BART spokeswoman. "It's
going to be a hive of activity. It's really more than a BART station,
it's a transit hub. And that's really a new thing for us at BART."
Projections estimate that the four-station extension will generate
70,000 new trips per day by 2010. Estimates for immediate ridership
have not been made, MacArthur said. Nearly half of those 2010 trips --
33,000 per day -- are expected to begin or end at Millbrae.
Only about a quarter of the total -- 17,000 per day -- will be SFO
station passengers, while South San Francisco and San Bruno stations
are each expected to draw about 10,000 per day.
The estimates were made as part of the environmental impact studies
for the extension in 1995. No projections for the first months or
year of operation have been produced, MacArthur said.
And although the number of flights and passengers departing from and
arriving at SFO has dropped sharply since the Sept. 11 terrorist
attacks, BART officials also said they are optimistic that ridership
on the extension will not be significantly affected by that shift.
Some transportation officials, in fact, are concerned that the
extension could be overwhelmed if they're not prepared for big crowds
at the Millbrae station.
"The perception is that the airport is the big deal," said Mike
Nevin, a San Mateo County supervisor and longtime backer of the
extension. "We've wanted it so long and waited so long, and the
airport is a big deal. But the real big deal is connectivity to
Caltrain, to the Peninsula and to the South Bay."
The easy BART-to-Caltrain connection will permit commuters from San
Francisco and the East Bay to travel down the Peninsula into Silicon
Valley or as far as Gilroy with a single, easy transfer at Millbrae.
And it will give San Francisco-bound commuters an alternative to
winding up at the Caltrain terminal at Fourth and King streets.
Nevin expects that the combined pull of BART and Caltrain will reach
deep into the Peninsula, and perhaps beyond. And some members of the
Chronicle's Two Cents pool of readers agreed.
"My family will be much more inclined to take BART from the end of
the line into San Francisco for big events or downtown destinations,"
said Jane Stillinger of Capitola. "Since we will have a shorter round-
trip to drive, we will probably do more activities while we are in
the Bay Area."
And while many San Mateo County residents will undoubtedly ride BART,
Nevin predicted that one of the biggest benefits of the extension --
even for those who don't use it -- will be less traffic congestion,
particularly near the airport and in the northern part of the county.
"We're a pass-through community between two urban centers, and most
traffic on 101 and 280 is between those two cities," he said. "But
it's our taxpayers who are being asked to pay for improvements."
Still, in addition to relieving traffic, creating a quicker
connection between San Francisco and the South Bay and carrying
travelers to and from their flights out of SFO, the extension will
also serve local San Mateo County residents.
"Opening these stations will be a big benefit for me," said Robert
Goldman of South San Francisco. "I don't drive but have many
appointments in Burlingame. Open them now. I can't wait."
E-mail Michael Cabanatuan at mcabanatuan@...