The Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART) train system is set to launch this spring providing train service for 43 miles between San Rafael and northern Santa Rosa. This system uses the existing rail right-of-way of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad corridor, which parallels Highway 101. The current plan is to open service at no charge until July 4; from July 4 to Labor Day tickets will be half-price; after Labor Day tickets will be full price. SMART is set to use Clipper Card and cost of a ticket depends upon how many zones a passenger traverses, anywhere from $3.50 to $11.50 one way. Trains are planned every half-hour in both directions during the commute period (5-9a, 3-7:30p) with one midday train. Eventually service will be extended southward to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and northward all the way to Cloverdale.
For bicyclists this is doubly good news. First, a multi-use path adjacent to the train corridor will also open providing a mostly flat highway between San Rafael and the Sonoma County Airport, the current northern end. Entry points to the corridor are unclear at the moment, but one can presume reasonably that there will be numerous access points all along the path. At some point the Richmond-San Rafael bridge bicycle path will be completed and this opens up an interesting ride from the East Bay over to Marin and the SMART corridor.
Second, SMART is planning to run two-car trains (and presumably might add cars as the service need grows) with each two-car train capable of carrying 158 seated passengers, 160 standing passengers, and has space for no more than 24(!) bicycles depending on the number of wheelchairs, stroller, and flip-up seats. I guess we can safely assume that SMART is going to allow bikes on board. This opens up the possibility of some very interesting multimodal bike rides if you don’t want to ride on the SMART multi-use path. For example, without using a car we would be able to ride over to San Rafael, catch the SMART train and take it to Petaluma or Santa Rosa, where there are some beautiful rural roads. After the extension to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal is completed in a couple of years, we will be able to catch a ferry to Larkspur, take the SMART train north, and start a ride.
After SMART opens we’ll be sure to do a few scouting trips and plan some DSSF rides up north that won’t involve using a car.
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