SMART train service will begin in a few months and we couldn’t be more excited! The start of the new passenger rail service has seen its challenges but the big day is almost here. The latest challenge is to delay the extension of the SMART route to Larkspur Landing. There is a group looking to hold up the completion of the railway to SMART’s southern terminal that must not prevail. Please write or call SMART to let them know that you voted for SMART to go to Larkspur Landing and you want construction to start right away so train service can begin by the end of 2018! We can’t afford to risk losing the $41 million in federal funding due to delays.
The promise to the voters of Marin and Sonoma Counties was a 70 mile SMART train route from Larkspur Landing to Cloverdale. The voters were especially keen on having SMART connect to the ferry as they wanted a transit system with multimodal capability, including train, bike, pedestrian and ferry modes. NBLC is proud that SMART is upholding the trust of the voters and keeping its promise to go to Larkspur Ferry, and appreciates the hard work that was needed to secure the funding to do that phase. Getting this leg of the train service in place will have North Bay commuters going to San Francisco as well as open up new opportunities for businesses in the North Bay to attract workers from San Francisco to our region. There is an increasing amount of job openings in our region. The connectivity with San Francisco will help companies hire people for hard-to-fill positions. We look forward to the day that the train will also complete the phase to go to Cloverdale.
NBLC is aware that there will be some impact on street traffic along the train’s railway as the train starts running its regular schedule. Those impacts are mitigated by things like having trainsets that fit within city blocks and synchronizing traffic lights. Traffic will also be reduced as commuters opt to take the train to work rather than drive. NBLC is pleased that the cities and counties along the railway are working collaboratively to create “quiet zones” so that SMART will no longer be required to blow its horns at crossings and other designated areas.
Having a transportation alternative that allows people to commute to work in a more environmentally-friendly way and be more productive with less stress, is a great new option for North Bay workers. NBLC is a big champion of SMART and the upwards of 20,000 employees that our organization represents are eager to get out of their cars.
SMART will also aid in making the North Bay more economically competitive. We are seeing an increasing concern of employers about attracting and retaining employees who are tired of the long commute times. Having an alternative to Highway 101 will be a blessing. The big storms of January pointed out that being able to commute and not worry about flooded roadways and car accidents is another reason to welcome the advent of SMART service.
Restoring train service to the North Bay and utilizing the public rail right-of-way is great addition to the economic ecosystem in our region. And for companies watching their triple bottom line, SMART’s green transportation solution will give you another way to meet those goals, too! All aboard!