WatchSonoma Watch

SMART gets $34.6 million in transit funding


Regional transit planners Wednesday approved key pieces of funding for the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, a tacit approval of the agency’s $360 million spending plan.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission in a unanimous vote approved $23.1 million in toll bridge funds and $11.5 million in state funds for SMART.

SMART in its latest financing plan is estimating that building an initial 37-mile line from downtown Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael will cost $380 million.

However, SMART also estimates there are cost-cutting measures in freight operations and in station design and construction that will save $20.5 million.

That total cost, $360 million, is what SMART expects to have in sales tax revenues and local, state and federal funds for construction.

SMART was required to submit a balanced financial plan to the MTC for approval of the funds.

The agency had planned to have the system in operation by fall of 2014, but officials said they now believe it will be one to two years later because of delays in getting permits for construction in wetlands areas.

28 Responses to “SMART gets $34.6 million in transit funding”

  1. Repeal SMART=Dumb Move says:

    The train is moving down the track, and all you be-knighted naysayers will be left behind. If it was left up to the likes of the ever-dwindling number of grumpy anti-government types who dominate the posts on this board, we would never have had the Golden Gate Bridge or the Interstate Highway System.

  2. Reuven says:

    Steve is absolutely right. If they collect money to pay for the Initial Operating Segment, the SMART board will ask for additional money to subsidize the operations and to build the additional segments to meet the original plan.
    Stay tuned and wait for an additional initiative to raise sales taxes by half-a-dollar to a full-dollar.

    Steve is right about that and we are suckers.

  3. Graeme Wellington says:

    And just consider… a billion tax dollars for a train ride from Santa Rosa to San Rafael… what does that really help? You could put the words “express” on a bus for nothing. You just have to figure out exactly where the best pick-up and drop off site are and “decide” to solve the problem. You have to get the fare figured out and the big decision to paint the lines on the freeway for HOV lanes. The solution is really cheap and effecive. Considering the never-ending subsidies the train will need, just a tiny fraction of that will be needed to do it with express buses. Heck if you want to be super green about it you could use electric or natural gas or propane fueled buses.

    Why do we let our government over-complicate this? Why spend a billion? Look at all those bureaucrats who can’t make a decisions other than to spend more and more of your money.

    If we have a problem, let’s solve it. Supply follows demand. Don’t spend a billion creating a supply and hoping there will be a demand. In every other city where they spent the money on LRT — the demand never came. Can’t we please learn the lesson here BEFORE we spend the billion dollars?

  4. ExRPeer says:

    @ Dave Madigan

    Regarding the street ready jobs, can we, the tax payers realy afford 200k a year per shovel engineer to man shovels with a 100k a year retirement package…. Good job Dave to inform us of with some of the options, makes sense to me!

  5. Joe says:

    The great shell game continues!

  6. Dave Madigan says:

    @ Graeme:

    Your idea for an express bus is well founded, elegantly simply and money wise.

    I hate to break it to you but you have NO future in government. You make too much sense!

  7. Steveguy says:

    Good one Graeme,

    I too utilize the transit that we have and it is very convenient for me.

    I think that everyone realizes that SMART is taking transit monies from the bus systems. Every transit agency is in cahoots with SMART, and I am afraid our bus system will crumble as a result.

    I am open to the equine option. Real jobs for real blacksmiths.

  8. Graeme Wellington says:

    As a long-time public transit user and long-time commuter I can tell SMART very simply what would work. What would work are a series of Express buses. And I don’t mean, semi-express with a five or six stops I mean an real express.

    An express from Cloverdale to San Francisco.

    An express from Healdsburg to San Francisco.

    An express from Windsor to San Francisco.

    An express from Santa Rosa to San Francisco

    An express from Rohnert Park to San Francisco.

    An express from Petaluma to San Francisco.

    That’s six buses. Run them like clockwork in the AM and like clockwork in reverse to get them back in the PM. Have HOV lanes all the way and the commute nightmare is over. In fact the buses would probably have more demand than supply – if you can run it reliably and on-time so people can depend on it. As soon as the level of actual demand is known, you can increase the number of buses or eliminate routes that are not generating demand.

    Something like that could be done for peanuts compared to the SMART train and would address the actual demand rather than trying to create a supply at the cost of a billion dollars and hope there was a demand.

    I just would like an express bus and not have to weave around to so many stops increasing the drive time and hassle. Having some nice clean buses with a little comfort and wi-fi and we’re sitting pretty.

  9. Money Grubber says:



    September 29, 2011

    High-speed rail project rates low in voters’ priorities, poll finds

    Nearly two-thirds of California’s likely voters would, if given the chance, stop the state’s controversial high-speed rail project, according to a new Probolsky Research poll.

    The head of the Irvine-based GOP polling outfit, Adam Probolsky, said that he included state budget priorities and the proposed bullet train, which would link the northern and southern regions of the state, as “fun questions” in a wider attitudinal poll of those likely to vote in next year’s election.


    It would be helpful to Sonoma County voters to understand regional and statewide voter sentiment, yet the Press Democrat is not publishing the information. Why?

  10. Dave Madigan says:

    @ Brian Brazoot said:

    “Do you know how many horse and buggies we could buy with this much money??”

    Brian, you are forgetting the best part of your idea. Using horses as transportation would really create shovel ready jobs…in the middle of the street!

  11. Brian Brazoot says:

    Do you know how many horse and buggies we could buy with this much money??

    Let’s solve our transportation problems AND get people back now to work now by hiring jockies, building barns, making buggy whips, bailing hay, and creating a network of horse-drawn buggies!!!

    Yay jobs in the equine transport sector!!! Boo trains!!!

  12. @Commonsense-

    We have petitions, and they have started being circulated.

    Please feel free to contact me at clay@repealsmart.org, and I can connect you with a volunteer to sign the petition.

  13. Liz (Elizabeth Gatley) says:

    @ Commonsense and all

    Be on the lookout this Saturday at a grocery store near you for volunteers collecting signatures.
    Also be on the lookout for offices opening next week where you can drop off and pick up petitions. Please check our website and Facebook pages for all the details. repealsmart . org

  14. Greg Karraker says:

    @Commonsense —

    As I understand it, the first petition signings will be at grocery stores in Sonoma and Marin Counties this Saturday from 10 to 5.

    I first heard Safeway, but a new email from repealSMART.org just says grocery stores.

    If you want to volunteer, and you’re in Sonoma County, email clay@repealSMART.org If you’re in Marin, email john@repaelSMART.org

    Hope to see you there.

  15. Commonsense says:

    Does anyone know if the petitions to repeal are ready and if so, where one can sign them?

  16. Diane says:

    And the price goes up and up for a train to nowhere that now goes half where it was promised to voters it would go and twice the cost it was promised to voters. Repeal Smart. I don’t want my tax dollars going into this black hole.

  17. Money Grubber says:

    I thought I’d add something regarding the way government moves OUR money around.

    I just read online that 17 % of the International Monetary Fund is supported through American tax dollars.

    Know what the IMF fund is about to do ? Its getting ready to bail Europe.

    Thats YOUR tax money going to bail out the government of Greece and the European Union.

    Thats the government way here in America. It takes our money and passes it around to its government buddies not only here in our country but abroad.

  18. John Galt says:

    I want to heartily congratulate SMART on holding their half a project together well enough to finally receive the money that MTC set aside for them in 2004. That’s right- while Batman Kinsey and Robin MacKenzie would like us to believe that they saved the day by rustling up new money to help resuscitate this project… actually all they did was got it moved up the track from Larkspur to San Rafael.

    I wasn’t sure if they could hold it together this long….

    Excellent accomplishment- you should all pat yourselves on the back- maybe go on a retreat on the taxpayer’s dime!

    Maybe think up some new benefits to give to staff… time to celebrate!

    In fact… why doesn’t the entire staff and board take some time off- oh, say several years or so! Would be a whole lot cheaper if there’s nobody around to spend money!

  19. Dave Madigan says:

    @ Kim said:

    “You’re RIGHT Dave Madigan, this train to nowhere IS a waste of taxpayer money, a true bottomless abiss!”


    Someone actually thinks I am right about an issue?

    THANK YOU!!!!

    I have to print that comment out and send it to my ex. She said I was never right about anything. :)

  20. TOm says:

    All these people should be thrown in jail. Its amazing how this theft goes on.

  21. BigDogatPlay says:

    Good money being thrown after bad. Nice work SMART and MTC.

    By the way… when is the MTC going to move from Oakland into the swanky office space they have their eye on in San Francisco?

  22. Mike Bonham says:

    $34.6 mil will not save this doomed train to nowhere. Good old Jake, Pothole, Mackenzie serves on both the UNSMART Board and the MTC that approved the tax funds.

    These unelected boards wield wide political and economic power with no accountability to the voters. They have done this for years. They set the rules and they allocate the funds.

    This is California democrat Democracy in action.

    The little unsmart train with its version 2.0 of a new manager will continue to limp along on hot air until the voters in Marin and Sonoma deal with this total waste and mismanagement of public funds and end the boondoggle.

    When our streets and roads needing repair and maintenance especially with winter coming, money is being spent on an unwanted and unneeded so called commuter train. A train that is in the true sense is neither a commuter train or a real functional train that provides a real service.

    Repeal SMART, fix the roads!

  23. Social Dis-Ease says:

    As I’ve said before, you’re ‘gonna really see just how rogue our local government has become as this unfolds.
    You’ve got ‘em scared because this is central to their whole Agenda.
    This is ICLEI pushing back. They see the resistance building to repeal Smart so they get MTC to loosen up all this funding, along with this timely press release. As if to say this thing’s got too much momentum serfs, so deal with it. When I think of a responsive local government, this isn’t what I have in mind. Like I’ve said, they don’t work for you.

  24. can i be the engineer? says:

    Maybe solyndra can provide the solar panels that will power this abomination

  25. Money Grubber says:

    There is currently an effort underway to allow voters a second chance on the SMART rail due to intentional misleading statements made in the original voting process.

    Any bets that this government money gets shifted to some other government bail out if the SMART plan gets defeated at the polls in the near future?

    Thats the government way. Take tax money and pass it around between government entities once they get it. Help thy government buddy is their mantra.

    What was it that President Obama recently chanted about the government “family” comes first ?

  26. Kim says:

    23.1 million in toll bridge funds? Where’s that money coming from? Raising the tolls AGAIN?

    11.5 million in state funds? Where’s that money coming from? Schools?

    Next we’ll be hearing that they have to raise taxes…oh, that’s right they’re already saying that…where does it end?

    You’re RIGHT Dave Madigan, this train to nowhere IS a waste of taxpayer money, a true bottomless abiss!

  27. Steve says:

    If this little section of track actually gets up and running, the Smart board will come back and ask for more money because of low ridership.
    They will ask for more money due to the higher costs than expected in operating a train.
    They will ask for more money to deliver what was originally promised.

    One constant in any government action, they always underestimate the costs and overestimate the returns.

    Luckily for Smart, there board is made up of the same people or friends who make the decisions to raise our taxes.

  28. Dave Madigan says:

    What a waste of taxpayer money!