UC, Berkeley


BART Extension to San Francisco International Airport and the Peoplemover Project



Kamran Mostashar Nemati

Master of City and Regional Planning (M.C.P.)
University of California at Berkeley
Professor Elizabeth A. Deakin, Chair


Over the years the San Mateo peninsula corridor has been the focus of numerous transit studies, including two major Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) extension studies and studies that helped create the local bus systems in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. One of the tasks of this study was to develop a set of potentially feasible transit alternatives in the corridor. Among these alternatives is BART extension to San Jose. In this alternative, existing CalTrain service would be replaced by BART on the peninsula. The BART extension would be fully grade-separated and would generally follow the Southern Pacific San Bruno branch line from the end of the Daly City tail track and would then follow the Southern Pacific mainline to San Jose. Alternatively, the BART alignment would deviate from the railroad mainline in San Bruno (I-380) proceed underground through the airport garage and then turn to Southern Pacific right-of-way in Millbrae.

The external airport extension would be at-grade connected to the airport terminal by an elevated peoplemover system above this station. The peoplemover system will be designed to circle the outside of the airport's south, international and north terminals placing the air passengers close to ticketing and baggage check-in facilities and giving the air passenger the impression of being at the airport after making the transfer at the Airport Station. The peoplemover will operate on demand, much like a normal elevator.

BART extension to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will satisfy the following objectives:
1. Provide rapid rail connection to SFO for residents of the three BART counties.
2. Improve access to SFO.
3. Provide potential for a significant increase in transportation capacity between San Mateo County and San Francisco.

If everything goes as planned, the BART extension to the San Francisco International Airport will take 15 years to complete. It will serve the airport and will increase BART ridership. It will take some riders off the congested freeways but it is not clear if it would actually reduce the congestion on San Mateo highways, since regional growth would put more cars on the freeway anyway. Even with more highways congested, BART must become more convenient, accessible and reasonably priced if it is to be an attractive alternative to the automobile.

If the airport is asked to commit resources to a BART extension and provide supporting infrastructure, they have to make sure that any BART station in the vicinity of the airport does not create a node of congestion that impedes airport access traffic. The airport station should not serve as a major terminus for conventional transit service from San Mateo, at least not in a way that could interfere with access road capacity to the airport.

On the subject of internal/external airport extension, over the past decade, the automated peoplemover has emerged as an innovative transportation technology adaptable to the requirements of any area of medium-to-high population use. It has been proven in operation and has achieved levels of service and passenger comfort unequaled by other transportation modes. The inherent flexibility of the technology permits adaptation to widely fluctuating passenger volume demand without compromising performance. The system can efficiently and economically handle 2,000 to 25,000 passengers per hour.

In the case of San Francisco International Airport, the peoplemover alternative will not only save several hundred million dollars as to the garage station alternative, but it will also provide a more efficient airport planning, more curbside capacity, inter-terminal transfer and help utilize the vacant land west of the Bayshore Freeway, Hence providing more space and flexibility for the airport authorities in planning future needs of the airport.


Return to Kamran M. Nemati's Publications
Send email: kamran@nemati.com