A SMART Vision -- Realized!
- Posted on
- By Geoffrey D Smith
- Posted in bicycle commuting, commuter, friends of SMART, light rail, public transportation, SMART, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, the last mile, train
A vision for the SMART train is being realized now. Imagine a day in the life of a SMART train commuter.
The vision of a regional passenger rail service has been growing since the last century. The
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit System (SMART) district was established by state legislation in
2002, and subsequent ballot measures established sales tax funding for SMART -- both the
train and the SMART pathway. On Friday, August 25, 2017 at 9 am at Railroad Square, Santa Rosa
station, SMART was officially dedicated... 43 miles of what will ultimately be a 70-mile passenger rail service between Larkspur and Cloverdale.
The following is a day in the life of a typical SMART train commuter...
The morning begins with some juice and fruit at home in Santa Rosa’s Junior College
Neighborhood. It is important to hydrate! I grab my folding bicycle which I keep by the front door
and step out into the sweet morning air. Unfolding the bike and donning my helmet, I am on my
way in less than 60 Seconds. It's a few short blocks from where I live to the SMART Pathway at
College Avenue. I head south on the quiet, smooth, car-free ‘Class 1’ pathway, running
alongside the tracks. In a few minutes I arrive at the historic train station in Railroad Square. I
grab a cup of fresh roasted coffee at The Flying Goat, then walk up the ramp to the boarding
platform and swipe my pre-paid Clipper card on the scanner. I quickly fold my bike and take my
position behind the yellow line. It's a beautiful morning!
At precisely 7:30 am the gleaming SMART Train pulls into view. I quickly hop on and take my
seat. On this day all 24 of the bicycle racks are taken by other savvy commuters, but this is not
an issue for me -- my folding bike goes where I go, neatly stowed next to me at my seat. As the
train smoothly and quietly glides down the tracks I enjoy the scenic wonder of Sonoma County
as we traverse wetlands, oak savannas, and scenes heretofore unknown to me. I head over to
the food and beverage counter to order a light breakfast. The travel time to my stop in San
Rafael is 55 minutes, plenty of time to pop open the laptop (free WiFi) and catch up on the daily
news and communications from the office -- my employer lets me count one hour of my daily
commute as paid work time. Arriving in San Rafael I disembark, unfold my bike and ride the mile
to my office. Refolding the bike and heading upstairs I stow the bike under my desk for
safekeeping. No lock needed!
I'm pumped up from the ride this morning so my morning goes quickly. At lunch I grab the bike
for a quick jaunt on the SMART Pathway, through the Cal Park Hill tunnel to Larkspur to do
some shopping. It's always good to see San Francisco Bay.
On the way home after work I disembark in Petaluma to have dinner downtown with some
friends. The train stop is some distance from the downtown area, but with my folding bike it's a
snap getting there. We have a great time, and I enjoy some adult beverages. No designated
driver needed as I take the 9:06 train back to Santa Rosa.
I enjoy the last mile of my commute on my bicycle, with my bright flashing headlight and taillight,
breathing in the fresh night air, and reflecting on the day.
Later in the evening, as I settle into bed for a good night sleep, I think back on those old days
when I was a slave to my fossil-fueled automobile. Those days are gone, and I am thankful.
Geoffrey Smith owns BikePartners Folding Bike Shop in Santa Rosa. He does not really work in San Rafael, but it makes for a good story.
What a wonderful day! I know we all look forward to a return to pre-Covid normal. Weekend service and watching the ridership grow as Windsor opens up connecting SMART from Larkspur.