Throughout July 2017, SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) conducted a soft launch with free preview rides for the public, designed to offer passengers an early look at the Bay Area's newest passenger train system. When it officially opens (expected to happen in the next few weeks), the train system will run 43 miles from the Sonoma County Airport to San Downtown Rafael, with in between stops in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Petaluma, Novato and the Marin Civic Center. MTC has directed $96 million to the SMART system, with the bulk of MTC's contribution coming from bridge tolls. The cost of the core system, including the initial train sets, is roughly $500 million.
An extension expected to be completed in 2018 will take the line to the ferry terminal at Larkspur, for an easy ride across the Bay to San Francisco. With future extensions planned further north to Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale, the line will eventually run for 70 miles. The system is bike friendly, with space for up to 24 bikes on each of the two-car diesel-powered SMART trains, and ready for Clipper® — the all-in-one transit fare card now accepted on 22 public transit systems around the Bay. Our photographer went along for the ride on a sunny weekend in late July, capturing enthusiastic riders of all ages, who not only got a taste of traversing Marin and Sonoma the SMART way, but also could pick up a free Clipper® fare card courtesy of MTC, which runs the Clipper universal fare card program.