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Millbrae's BART station to be 4x busier than SFO's

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  • 4/21 SF Chronicle
    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
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 21, 2003
      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,
      South Bay

      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
      Caltrain. "

      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@...
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