SMART Train Larkspur expansion opens, now goes to the Golden Gate Ferry

SMART, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit, reached a major milestone when service was extended all the way from north Santa Rosa to the Larkspur Ferry.

With this station SMART has completed 45 miles of a planned expansion.

17 years after it was conceived, and just over two years since it was originally built, SMART Train's Larkspur Ferry Station was dedicated and opened Friday.

SMART calls this a game changer.

The walk between the SMART station and the ferry terminal is about seven to ten minutes. On a nce day it's not much of a walk, but in the rain, you're certainly going to need an umbrella.

Even though voters overwhelmingly passed SMART funding, many don't like the rail crossing congestion it sometime creates, and that the train is not fully packed.

"It cost $55 million extend to Larkspur for just 231 riders," said San Rafael resident Richard Hall, who like many in Marin and Sonoma, oppose growth. "The train is being used as an excuse to increase the density of Marin until it can become justified. This isn't what was told to voters. They were told it was to relieve traffic congestion," said Hall.

Lillian Hames, SMART's first General Manager, says she has worked on eleven different rail startups, all of which had detractors.

"Everybody said, nobody will ride it. It costs too much. It's a train to no where. And, they all have been successful and like it, SMART is going to prove it's successful," said Hames.

Another station is coming reasonably soon.

"Windsor. Our board has awarded a contract and Windsor should be completed by end of 2021," said Mansourian.

Healdsburg and Cloverdale stations are still awaiting funding. And, the state is actively considering eastward expansion to Solano County to hook up with Amtrak. "We can deliver that project under 5 years. So, think about, if you're stuck on Highway 37, that you now ride a train in five years instead of being stuck," said Mansourian.

Experts say if SMART goes as other rail systems, a decade from now, people will wonder how they ever lived without it.