WatchSonoma Watch

MTC delays vote on SMART funding


The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is delaying a key vote that would provide $21 million in funds for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Agency.

The commission had scheduled the vote for Wednesday  but is delaying it until September in light of new cost and revenue estimates developed by the rail agency staff.

In a report released Friday, SMART now estimates that costs have risen to $385 million, but with cost-saving measures and new revenue estimates, the line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael would still be fully funded.

SMART staff also believes that the time it will take to get the necessary regional, state and federal permits to work in waterways will delay the construction and the start of service a year.

The MTC was set to vote on a funding package that includes $10 million from MTC, $8 million from the Transportation Authority of Marin and $3 million from the Sonoma County Transportation Authority and reallocates to SMART $23 million in Bay Area toll bridge funds.

9 Responses to “MTC delays vote on SMART funding”

  1. John Parnell says:

    If MTC can “hit the reset button” because of these new cost overruns, then why can’t SMART? And shouldn’t we, the voters, be able to take the same strategic timeout?

  2. LEVI says:

    At this point, give the money to scientists to develop Star Trek Transporters and time travel. I’m mean, if we are going to blow billions on something that isnt and will never work and be financially feasible, we might as well do it on something cool. Maybe we can pay Spock to endorse the project and get Captain Kirk on the board of directors

  3. Shelby says:

    I am guessing that MTC will be looking at the income projections. Even IF we are IN a recovery government income usually lags
    a few years. I would also question the cost of operation. What if it costs 20 million a year to operate? Who is going
    to pay for that? It seems to me we have many financial issues to resolve before we take on such a huge expense.

  4. Common Sense says:

    Questions for those who still support smart:
    1.)In what way is the now shorter smart going to decrease commute congestion on 101? Ridership numbers weren’t that high when it was going all the way to Larkspur, and now that it’s only going from Santa Rosa to San Rafael, how much of a real impact is that going to have? I commute daily and will not be using smart, as it would require me to drive to smart, take a train and then a bus to my final destination. And no one I know who initially supported it will be using it either for many of the same reasons.
    2.)The pathways and bike trail were gutted from the current project and on hold till who knows when, so how is that a positive at this point. If ridership doesn’t pan out, then that delay could end up being quite substantial, along with the delay in the construction to Larkspur, so how is a maybe bike path at some point maybe in the future a plus?
    3.)How is a train any more environmentally superior then the current bus/public transit system we have? It’s the same basic concept, many on one mode of transport (still requires fuel to move) vs. many individual cars.
    I really haven’t heard any good responses to these issues as of yet, just the same soundbites and I’d really like a substantive answer.

  5. Mr. Obvious says:

    Don’t worry, we found a clueless dupe in Palo Alto to pay for SMART!

    Don’t tell him though, that every time he pulls up to the Dumbarton toll plaza he’s chucking in HIS share of $23 million to the financial black hole to nowhere.

    He may ask: “What does this train wreck have to do with ME and why am I sucked into paying for it?”

    The silly fool. What makes him think he is so special. There are 750,000 in Marin / Sonoma counties who will never use a SMART train either. Did he think that living 100 miles and three counties away somehow inoculated him from sharing in this boondoggle? Is he going to say: “Hey, I didn’t have a vote on THAT!”?

    The poor victimized dork, he doesn’t know the “I didn’t vote for that” argument doesn’t hold water. Even the suckers who DID vote for it aren’t getting what they voted for!

    $23 million from bridge tolls! For what? A train wreck? We can’t find a better use for that $23 million? Do the bridge commuters know what they are paying for? Those clueless dupes . . .

  6. Conservation Action says:

    SMART is delayed a year yes, but it is not unexpected for a major development project to experience delays, especially in this difficult economy.

    Voters supported SMART because it gives an alternative to Highway 101 congestion, it will create a multi-use bike and pedestrian pathway along the north/south corridor, it’s an environmentally superior alternative to driving, and trains are just plain fun to ride (whereas traffic is not fun to ride in).

    If every public works project vote or challenge was met with such fierce criticism and pessimism, we’d be swimming to San Francisco from the North Bay; risking sharks, rocks and drowning.

  7. Lets Reconsider This says:

    If SMART ever gets this all sorted out, the people who voted for this mess will be in their graves and everyone will be wondering why this dinosaur was ever conceived?

  8. Levi says:


  9. BigDogatPlay says:

    So I guess this vote delay means it’s going to be a longer delay than the one year SMART recently reported?


    Given the latest cost projections even the MTC must be swallowing hard over this boondoggle in the making.