San Francisco International Airport station

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San Francisco
International Airport
Bay Area Rapid Transit
SFO BART platform.jpg
A view of the station's boarding platforms. Because BART traffic to and from SFO has not been as high as originally anticipated, the station's center track is rarely used.
LocationInternational Terminal, Level Three
San Francisco International Airport
San Mateo, California
Coordinates37°36′59″N 122°23′28″W / 37.6164°N 122.3910°W / 37.6164; -122.3910Coordinates: 37°36′59″N 122°23′28″W / 37.6164°N 122.3910°W / 37.6164; -122.3910
Owned byYes
Line(s)BART Y-Line
Platforms1 island platform, 1 side platform (AirTrain)
2 island platforms (BART)
Tracks2 (AirTrain)
3 (BART)
ConnectionsBus transport SamTrans: SFO, 292, 397, 398, 713
Disabled accessYes
OpenedFebruary 24, 2003 (2003-02-24) (AirTrain)
June 22, 2003 (2003-06-22) (BART)
Passengers (FY 2017)6,448 exits/day[1]
Preceding station Bart-logo.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit Following station
Terminus Antioch–​SFO/​Millbrae
San Bruno
Weeknights & weekends
SFO–Millbrae Terminus
Former services
Preceding station Bart-logo.svg Bay Area Rapid Transit Following station
Terminus Dublin/​Pleasanton–​Daly City
2003–2004; 2005–2008
San Bruno
Richmond–​Daly City/​Millbrae
San Bruno
toward Richmond

San Francisco International Airport station (often abbreviated SFO or SFIA) is a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) terminal station located adjacent to Garage G inside the San Francisco International Airport. The elevated station is a transfer point to the AirTrain people mover system at Garage G/BART station.

The station opened for AirTrain service in February 2003, with BART service beginning that June. After several service changes between 2003 and 2009, the station is served by the Antioch–SFO/Millbrae line during all BART operating hours. Shuttle service on the SFO–Millbrae line began on February 11, 2019.

Station layout[edit]

The station structure viewed from AirTrain

San Francisco International Airport station is an elevated structure about 100 feet (30 m) wide and 900 feet (270 m) long. It is located on the northwest side of the group of terminals; the west half of the station is adjacent to Garage G, while its east end connects to the north end of the International Terminal. A stub-end terminal station, the BART level has three tracks served by two island platforms. An elevated wye and crossovers to the west of the station allow trains arriving from the north or south to use any track. The south track is used for all trains departing to the north; on nights and weekends, Millbrae-bound trains use the north track. The middle track is not used in regular service; its platform edges are blocked off.[2]

The AirTrain station, located above the west half of the BART station, has a single island platform serving the two AirTrain guideways, plus a side platform serving the inner loop. A footbridge above the AirTrain level provides access from the parking garage. BART faregates are located in the AirTrain station, and at the east end of the station where it connects to the departures level of the International Terminal.

Wind Portal[edit]

Wind Portal in 2009

Wind Portal is a 2003 artwork by Sebastopol artist Ned Kahn on the surface of the cylindrical opening in the floor separating the BART station from AirTrain. Passengers transferring between the two rail services ride escalators or walk on stairs through the opening, which measures 124 inches (3,100 mm) high with a 16-foot (4.9 m) radius. The artwork consists of 200,000 stainless steel disks, each 1 inch (25 mm) in diameter and individually hung so they respond to air currents induced by train traffic.[3][4] John King, urban art critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, praised it, saying it was "[m]esmerizing ... an ever-changing silver shimmer ... indefinable movements reacting to distant winds as well as the whoosh of trains. The experience is hard to predict; there's a sense of anticipation."[5]


The station under construction in 1999
SFO–Millbrae line train at the station in 2019

A BART extension to San Francisco International Airport was first proposed in 1970 - before the initial system even opened.[6]:4 In 1972, a "trace" - a concrete shell with space for a station - was built into the North Terminal (now Terminal 3) during its construction; it was blocked from use by later construction.[7]:296 Planning began in the early 1990s; after a great deal of political controversy over where the airport station would be located, construction began in 1997.[6]:11 The BART extension was constructed in concert with the International Terminal (which expanded the airport's capacity) and the AirTrain system (which connects the BART station to the other airport terminals).[7]:308 The AirTrain system opened on February 24, 2003.[8]

BART service to SFIA station began on June 22, 2003.[9] The station was initially served by the Dublin/Pleasanton line, plus a shuttle service to Caltrain connections at Millbrae station.[10][2] The shuttle service was discontinued on February 9, 2004. The Pittsburg/Bay Point line began serving SFIA station (as well as Millbrae on nights and weekends), with northbound trips on the Richmond line also serving SFIA station at peak hours.[11] Peak-hour Richmond line service began serving the station in both directions on September 13, 2004.[9]

Within the first two weeks of service to SFIA station, ridership was 50% below the projected 6,500 passenger exits per day.[12] BART service to stations in San Mateo County is funded by SamTrans, rather than county tax revenues. As ridership stayed below expectations, SamTrans had to pay a larger-than-planned operating subsidy to BART. On September 12, 2005, in order to lower these subsidies, BART reduced service so that only the Dublin/Pleasanton line served SFIA and Millbrae stations.[13] SamTrans and BART reached an agreement in February 2007 in which SamTrans would transfer control and financial responsibility of the SFO/Millbrae extension to BART, in return for BART receiving additional fixed funding from SamTrans and other sources.[14]

On January 1, 2008, BART increased service to the San Mateo stations. SFIA became the terminus of the Pittsburg/Bay Point line at all times, and direct service between SFIA and Millbrae was discontinued.[15] On September 14, 2009, the line was extended to Millbrae on nights and weekends, restoring direct service at those times.[16] During its first decade of service, ridership remained well below initial projections.[17] Ridership has continued to increase, reaching a peak of 6,788 weekday exits in fiscal year 2016.[1]

On February 11, 2019, SFO–Millbrae line service resumed on weekdays and Sundays, with cross-platform connections to the Antioch line (formerly the Pittsburg/Bay Point line) at SFIA station. The Antioch line continues to serve both SFIA and Millbrae on weeknights and Saturdays.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bay Area Rapid Transit District. "Monthly Ridership Reports". Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "30 million trips and counting: BART celebrates 10th anniversary of SFO extension". Bay Area Rapid Transit District. June 21, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2014.
  3. ^ "Wind Portal". SFO Museum. San Francisco International Airport.
  4. ^ Kahn, Ned (2003). "Wind Portal". Ned Kahn Studios.
  5. ^ King, John (June 22, 2003). "Surprises await riders at new BART stations". San Francisco Chronicle.
  6. ^ a b Freeman, Dennis; Wei, Wenbin; Gosling, Geoffrey D. (May 2012). "Case Study Report: San Francisco International Airport BART Extension" (PDF). Research Project 2503: Collaborative Funding to Facilitate Airport Ground Access. Mineta Transportation Institute.
  7. ^ a b Healy, Michael C. (2016). BART: The Dramatic History of the Bay Area Rapid Transit System. Heyday. pp. 293–310. ISBN 9781597143707.
  8. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (February 26, 2003). "SFO's people mover up and running unofficially / Trains carry people around terminals, to rental cars". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. ^ a b "BART Chronology January 1947 – March 2009" (PDF). San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. March 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2013.
  10. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (April 18, 2003). "BART to link to SFO June 22 / After many delays, latest date is firm, transit officials say". San Francisco Chronicle.
  11. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (February 7, 2004). "BART changing schedule so more go to SFO / Peninsula ridership below expectations, needs a boost". San Francisco Chronicle.
  12. ^ Matier, Phillip; Ross, Andrew (July 9, 2003). "BART line to SFO -- expectations way up, ridership way down". San Francisco Chronicle.
  13. ^ Murphy, Dave (August 11, 2005). "PENINSULA / BART to airport to be cut / Weekend trains to be kept on Peninsula". San Francisco Chronicle.
  14. ^ "BART-SFO Settlement Agreement and Release of Claims" (PDF). Metropolitan Transportation Commission. February 14, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 12, 2009.
  15. ^ Gordon, Rachel (December 9, 2007). "BART to raise fares, increase train frequency starting Jan. 1". San Francisco Chronicle.
  16. ^ "Off-peak service reductions began Monday, September 14th" (Press release). San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. September 15, 2009.
  17. ^ Jonathan Ian Mason (2008). Global Visions and Urban Infrastructure: Analyzing the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Extension to San Francisco Airport (SFO). ProQuest. pp. 278–282. ISBN 978-0-549-83255-3.
  18. ^ "February 11 schedule change impacts weekdays and Sundays" (Press release). San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District. January 15, 2019.

External links[edit]