The Smart Train is Finally Here!

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Well, part of it, anyway. In 2008, voters approved a $450 million North Bay commuter train system that would extend 70 miles from Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County to the Golden Gate Ferry Terminal in Larkspur. Finally, after almost a decade-long wait, travelers can now access 10 stations along 43 miles of the total project, from Sonoma County Airport to downtown San Rafael. SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) estimates the Larkspur station at the southernmost end of the system—where workaday commuters will be able catch the ferry for the final half hour boat ride to SF—will open in 2019, but offers no dates for the Cloverdale station opening at the railway’s northern terminus. Free busses will shuttle passengers to and from the current stations at either end until the final stations open.

But, the SMART train isn’t all business. There are some fun places to explore along the way for tourists and staycationers alike. Stop and stretch your legs in charming downtown Santa Rosa and Petaluma, or catch a show at the Marin Civic Center. Or, BYOB (bring your own bike) to explore the developing pedestrian and bicycle corridors along the route. (While beer, wine, coffee, and snacks will be sold at on-board cafés, passengers will not be allowed to travel carrying their own libations.) Check individual stations for commuter amenities such as bike storage, transit connections, and parking options. All stations are wheelchair accessible.

SMART trains will run seven days a week, with limited schedules on weekends. Commuters can choose from 17 southbound and 17 northbound trains each weekday. Five trains will run each direction on Saturdays and Sundays. The total ride time between San Rafael and Sonoma County Airport is just over an hour.

To encourage passengers to check out SMART’s August 25th debut, fares will be half price through Labor Day. Adult ticket prices are based on one-way travel within five zones and range in price from $3.50 to $11.50; youth (ages 6-18), seniors, and passengers with disabilities get a 50% discount, and kids 5 and under ride free. For information on train schedules visit http://www.sonomamarintrain.org/schedules-fares.

Zoe Winter