.Train Pain

Train Pain

Why is the SMART train so stupid? I’m sure that if you have driven through San Rafael in the past few years, you have found yourself in a traffic line waiting for the SMART train.

For some unexplained reason, when the crossing gates go down, traffic ends up waiting minutes for the train to come lumbering across the road. And then, after passing the intersection, there is another 30 second wait for the gates to lift. It also seems that the gates are not timed with the municipal traffic lights, usually leaving a chaos of frustration in the wake of the train. Having a train run the commuter corridor is a fabulous idea, as evidenced by so many successful urban transit systems world-wide.

So how is it that the SMART train is such an unused annoyance in Marin? I grew up in Los Angeles, which was “Ground Zero” for the deprecation of public and commercial rail. I recall parking for extended periods of time while freight trains idled across main traffic thoroughfares, purportedly doing their freight business. It didn’t take long for everybody to hate anything rail.

We could not drive on I-10 to LA without my parents grousing about the freight lines running their right-of-way along the corridor. It turned out that the deprecation of the Los Angeles rail systems was a conspiracy by corporate interests wanting to eliminate public transit and have us all drive our own cars. The SMART train idiocy has a similar smell.

Michael Stocker

San Geronimo Valley

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