Did you know that 75% of those who commute in the North Bay area do so by traveling between or even through the two counties of Marin and Sonoma? How about the fact that the North Bay brings in people from all around the world to enjoy the activities that are found right here in the North Bay Marin & Sonoma area?
All of these commuters and visitors have brought about a need to develop a system that will help them travel from one location to another within the area. This is where the SMART system comes into the picture.
This new railroad system was first introduced in the year 2002 and was passed by voters in 2008. Since that time, construction has been underway to bring a fantastic new way to travel into the area.
In its entirety, the SMART system will eventually run from Larkspur all the way to Cloverdale and will cover about 70 miles in total. Currently, Phase One of the system is being constructed and will service about 70% to 80% of those who will ride the train once the entire project has been completed.
Phase one is focused on bridging the gap between other already existing segments and replacing the 60-100 year old tracks that were already in place. Not only will the track system be smooth and comfortable, but the new additions will make it easier and safer for pedestrians, those who travel by bicycle and wheelchairs, as well as vehicles to get from one location to another.
The first phase is set to be complete in the year 2016, when passenger trains will begin running from Sonoma County Airport to Downtown San Rafael. Phase two will be completion of stations in Sonoma, Healdsburg, and Windsor plus the exciting connection between San Rafael and Larkspur. This Larkspur station will be walking distance to the Larkspur Ferry, which goes to downtown San Francisco. Go Giants! There will be fourteen stations in total:
- Sonoma County Airport
- Santa Rosa
- Guerneville Rd
- Railroad Square
- Rohnert Park
- Rohnert Park Expressway
- East Cotati Ave
- Petaluma North
- San Marin at Atherton
- San Rafael
- Larkspur – near Larkspur Landing/ where the Ferry is that goes to San Francisco
When the system is fully operational, it will consist of 7 two car train sets (all made-in America) that run in both directions every 30 minutes during peak travel times. These trains are made in America and are clean-diesel, energy-efficient trains The current hours scheduled are from 5 am to 8pm. There are also plans for a mid-day and weekend service once the system is operational. Each train set can hold a number of passengers; approximately 158 seated passengers, 160 standing passengers and a combination of 24 bicycles, wheelchairs or strollers.
It is the hopes and dreams of the creators of the SMART system to create a one of a kind travel experience that offers commuters and pedestrians an easy way to get to their destination. After it has been fully completed, the system will offer something that very few places in the country can offer; one of the longest pedestrian pathways in the country.
One of the best things about the SMART system is that it is a service that can provide everyone a way to travel, whether they are traveling for work or for enjoyment. This will allow travelers a way to enjoy the trip so that they can have a little bit of fun along the way. No longer will you be forced to spend the commute trapped in your car, but will now be able to get some work done or relax while you travel to your destination.
In order to keep up to date with the progression of this amazing new addition to this area, be sure to check out http://main.sonomamarintrain.org/updates/ for continuous updates.