SMART Train Ready to Roll
By Will Sigmund
A sigh of relief washed over the residents of Sonoma and Marin on the last week of August when the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, also known as SMART train, opened for business. This happened after many delays, which plagued the project. Construction was extended over a 10-year span.
The new commuting and tourism train runs from San Rafael to the Sonoma Airport on nearly 43 miles of Northwestern Pacific Rails. The project, funded by The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, isn’t stopping there. There are plans to build the track to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal and north all the way to Cloverdale.
“The train is a great way to get to Novato from my house,” said Morgan Petersen, a sophomore at Novato High School. “It's very convenient, quick and I get half price because I'm under 18.”
The train takes a little over an hour to span the entire track, and is expected to greatly reduce traffic during commuting hours when gridlock is a major problem for commuters.
For Marin County residents, this transit service is long overdue. After BART was denied approval to extend their track into the North Bay and the delay of the SMART train, traffic has gotten worse than ever on local freeways. The last delay, which was a problem with the trains, came back in October, 2016, one year ago.
Administrators and staff have second thoughts about taking the train, though, due to the distance from the closest station to the school.
Novato High interim Assistant Principal Ron Dell’Immagine said that the main problem is getting to and from the workplace from the stations. He also added that the staff would like to plan a carpool or transportation service other than the bus to these stops. Currently there are two SMART Train stops in Novato, with plans to build a third in the downtown area.
As for fares, the service charges by the amount of zones you ride through, costing $11.50 to ride the entire length of the track from San Rafael to Sonoma.The prices are cut in half for passengers under 18. The service accepts Clipper Cards too, hinting at the fact that they might later connect with other Bay Area Transit Systems like BART and MUNI. For more information on train routes and times, visit a local SMART station or go online at