Later this month, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART train) will open new stations in Larkspur and Novato, the latest step by the North Bay transit agency to lay the groundwork for a three-decade extension of its funding stream.
The new station in Larkspur may be as close as the train will ever come to the Larkspur ferry terminal, the ticket to an easy commute across the bay – and, possibly, greater public support for the train as a regional public transportation option.
SMART Train Data
After about two and a half years of service, SMART now has some hard data about its performance and its backers are preparing to ask North Bay taxpayers for more funding.
On November 6, SMART’s 12-member board of directors voted to place a bond measure to extend funding for the train for 30 years. The tax is expected to generate at least $40 million per year.
The current quarter-cent sales tax, approved by voters in 2008, will last until 2029. If the new bond measure is passed by two-thirds of Marin and Sonoma county voters in March 2020, the tax will be extended until 2059.
At a November 20 meeting, the agency’s board approved a new schedule. Beginning in January, the train will offer 38 daily trips instead of 34. The spacing of the journeys will also be altered. The agency says it coordinated with seven other transit agencies, including the Golden Gate Ferry, to develop the new schedule.
But, while SMART’s Larkspur station is a welcome addition to the system, it falls about a mile short of the expected target: The ferry terminal itself.
The train station is a ten-minute walk from the ferry terminal and local bike advocates have said that the route between the train and ferry isn’t ideal, according to Streetsblog, an online urban planning publication.