Trains are stopping today at the $106-million West Dublin/Pleasanton BART station that was officially dedicated Friday with a bevy of speeches and patriotic ceremonies inside the spacious second level waiting area.
The agency's 44th station opening was celebrated by military color guards, the "Pledge of Allegiance," the National Anthem sung by Katelyn West and bagpipe music by the Prince Charles Caledonian Band. Then came the speeches--15 of them--by local, regional, transportation and BART representatives.
Service started Saturday with trains operating on a holiday schedule today. The first crunch of passengers to board trains that are often filled at the East Dublin/Pleasanton station, which is located 1.6 miles east of the new facility, will come Tuesday morning. The new station includes a parking garage with 468 spaces on Stoneridge Mall Road on the Pleasanton side and another garage with 721 spaces on the Dublin side.
Commuters can walk from the garages directly to the second level of the station to process their tickets, and then down a flight of stairs to the I-580 freeway level to board trains.
John McPartland, vice president of the BART board of directors, said the new station is expected to serve 4,300 riders daily on weekdays, with the trip to BART's four downtown San Francisco stations costing $5.50 one way.
Commuter counts in the coming weeks will determine how many of the 7,500 daily passengers who use the existing station will use the new station instead where parking may be more abundant and more weather-friendly. As it is, parking at the Dublin/Pleasanton station can be scarce early in the morning rush hour even with nearly 3,000 spaces on both sides of the freeway.
The East BART station was opened May 10, 1997 and quickly became a major transit hub for buses and cabs, serving the Tri-Valley. Cabs, Wheels and AC Transit buses and a number of shuttle buses to various Tri-Valley corporations and business parks congregate at the station, which is BART's end-of-the-line station. Transit service is available to San Joaquin County and cities as far east as Modesto, over 55 miles away.
Although some transit service is expected to serve the new West BART station, its location near more congested Stoneridge Mall Road and Dublin Boulevard may keep most of the services at the station farther east.
But with easier access from I-680, the new station and its garages may also attract new riders to BART from among commuters from San Ramon and Danville on the north and even from Fremont on the south as a quicker way of reaching Oakland, San Francisco and Peninsula destinations.
McPartland led the grand opening celebration Friday, a cold, rainy day with about 200 filling the unheated upper level assembly area. In the audience were BART representatives, employees, state and county leaders, council members from Dublin, Pleasanton and San Ramon, firefighters, police, school board members and scores of residents who said they've been waiting for this new station to open.
With skywalks connecting both sides of the freeway, pedestrians and bicyclists can now walk, jog and cycle between Pleasanton and Dublin without having to use the Foothill Road/San Ramon Boulevard overpass.
"This station's been nine years in the making," McPartland said, "and today's the day. It's another step in BART's commitment to reduce the carbon footprint of a crowded freeway. It also represents the success of a public-private partnership in building a transit center."
Quentin Kopp, a retired San Mateo Superior Court judge who worked tirelessly as a State Senator to campaign for the Bay Area Rapid Transit System and its service extensions, including to San Francisco International Airport, praised BART for adding the new West Dublin/Pleasanton station. He told those assembled Friday that it was to the credit of voters and taxpayers in San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa counties who voted to fund a $792 million bond issue that enabled BART to be established, with the first section of rail placed in 1973.
"Think about what the Bay Area would be like today if these voters had not agreed to pay for BART?" Kopp asked. "Forever the shame of San Mateo County for not going along."
Pete Snyder, the first mayor of Dublin and a former BART board member, recalled the early days of Dublin when part of the acreage on which the new West BART station and parking garages occupy was undeveloped, although eyed for retail and other businesses when BART acquired it in 1982.
He worked with BART, the city of Dublin and investment firms Jones Lang LaSalle and Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors to create the public-private partnership that enabled BART to pay for the new station.
"This was first major public-private partnership in transportation in this area," Snyder said.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty called the new BART station opening "a great day for the economic future of this area."
"When you see a station alike this, you know BART is alive and well," he added. "Of course, I wish this celebration was at a new BART station in Livermore, but that will come."
Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti said the station is a catalyst for his city's downtown development plan. Plans call for construction of a transit village on the Dublin side of the station that could include a 150-room hotel, a 210-unit apartment complex and retail/office space. He also talked about how the BART station fits into Dublin's effort to curb greenhouse gases.
"We are one of only a few cities in the Bay Area that has actually adopted a climate action plan," Sbranti said. "We're concerned about greenhouse gas emissions in the East Bay and one of the key elements in our plan talks about increasing BART's capacity here in the city of Dublin."
Pleasanton's Vice-Mayor Cheryl Cook-Kallio said the new station fits into her city's plan for more transit oriented developments (TODs) that can also help the environment. She said Pleasanton just approved an 850-unit TOD in the Hacienda Business Park and plans call for a 350-unit apartment complex adjacent to the new station.
Other speakers included Bob Franklin, president of the BART board of directors, from District 3; Thomas Blalock, BART Director from District 6; Bijan Sartipi, Director, District 4 of the California Department of Transportation; Arthur Dao, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission; Jim Gallagher, vice president of Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers; Robert Russell, senior vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle; Karl Schroeder, president, Northern California division of Safeway, Inc., and Dorothy Dugger, BART General Manager.
Because the House of Representatives was in session Friday debating budget issues, Congressmen Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) and John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek) were unable to attend the opening day ceremonies although their local staff representatives were there.
The long morning celebration ended at noon Friday with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the entry gates that took about two minutes.