The once high-profile plan to use a public-private partnership to build a rail link between Oakland International Airport and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District’s rail system appears to have expired quietly.

“In a nutshell, the remaining qualified bidder did not submit a bid,” BART spokesman Linton Johnson said in an e-mail.

The P3 process began with much fanfare in 2006, and BART short-listed three project teams in September of that year.

The three project teams included Citi, Norddeutsche Landesbank, and Merrill Lynch & Co. as finance partners, according to a BART document. The last bidder to drop out was the Merrill team, according to published reports.

The $254 million project would have built a three-mile line linking the airport with the nearest BART station, replacing an existing bus service.

The airport itself has had a tough year, with four domestic carriers that served the airport at the start of the year either cutting all service to Oakland or going out of business entirely.

Between April and July, monthly traffic figures were off between 18.49% and 25.89% compared to the same months a year earlier, according to airport statistics.

“We still believe there is a very big need for an Oakland airport connector, so we will continue to explore more ways of trying to get one made,” Johnson said in a phone interview.

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