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New Bay Area Commuter Rail Service Begins Today

Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) train is set to start service Friday, running between Sonoma and Marin Counties in the Bay Area. Future extensions are planned that to take it to Larkspur for ferry service to San Francisco.
August 25, 2017, 9am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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SMART’s Grand Opening celebration will be held at the Santa Rosa Downtown SMART Station. Initially the diesel multiple unit trains will run 43 miles from Sonoma County Airport in the north to the San Rafael in southern Marin County, serving 10 stations.

Credit: Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART)

When completed, it will stretch 73 miles, from Cloverdale to Larkspur, where passengers will be able to take Golden Gate Ferries to San Francisco. The Larkspur extension was delayed after Congress cut the small starts funding program in 2015 and sagging sales tax receipts from Measure Q, the quarter-cent sales tax that launched the railroad in November 2008.

"The train will mark the return of commuter rail service to the North Bay after nearly 60 years, report Michael Cabanatuan and Lizzie Johnson for the San Francisco Chronicle. "It’s the first passenger rail line in the counties since the Northwestern Pacific Railroad ceased service in 1958, slowly crushed by the Golden Gate Bridge."

But now, a Highway 101 commute is a daily slog, with low speeds and stop-and-go traffic. SMART is designed to offer an alternative, but how many people will ride the system regularly remains an open question.

Cabanatuan reports on Wednesday that "starting Sept. 2, Golden Gate Transit will run the Wave shuttle between SMART’s San Rafael Station and the Larkspur ferry terminal. The service is free for SMART passengers, and shuttles, timed to make the trip as seamless as possible, will meet most but not all of the trains."

Full Story:
Published on Thursday, August 17, 2017 in SF Gate
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