WatchSonoma Watch

SMART cleared to use $2.5 million grant


SMART will be able to use a $2.5 million grant it won four years ago after federal assistance allowed the agency to hold onto the funds.

The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains roll off the assembly line at the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan, in this undated handout photo from SMART. The trains passed their factory-based tests and are set to be delivered to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill. where they will be mass produced.

The first Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains roll off the assembly line at the Nippon Sharyo factory in Toyokawa, Japan, in this undated handout photo from SMART. The trains passed their factory-based tests and are set to be delivered to the Sumitomo Corp. of America plant in Rochelle, Ill. where they will be mass produced.

The money will be used for engineering design in preparation for construction of the Larkspur extension, which will connect the Sonoma-Marin rail system to the ferry terminal in Marin County.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit agency secured a funding promise from the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2010, but in 2012 was told the grant would lapse unless it could be used by the end of the fiscal year.

For the funds to be used, SMART had to be accepted into the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts/Small Starts program. With assistance from Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and former Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, SMART was accepted into the program in September 2013.

The agency has since completed preliminary work that enables it to use the money, according to an announcement from Thompson’s office.

Last month, SMART cleared an even larger funding hurdle, securing $20 million in regional transportation funds for the 2.2-mile Larkspur extension, half the money needed to extend rail service to the ferry terminal.

Another $20 million needed for the extension could come from a federal transportation grant that will be decided on later this year.

SMART is currently constructing a 43-mile rail project between San Rafael and Airport Boulevard north of Santa Rosa, with service anticipated to begin in late 2016.

You can reach Staff Writer Lori Carter at 762-7297 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com.

9 Responses to “SMART cleared to use $2.5 million grant”

  1. Elephant says:

    MOCKINGBIRD – I would say that you are getting thumbs down about your comment that DUMB… “can’t cut into other transportation funds especially other mass transit” because it already has and will continue to do so. The article even mentions the $20 mil that it appropriated last month that should have gone elsewhere.

    I was very interested in the recent PD article about the Grand Jury report that was quite critical of DUMB not knowing what they are doing. This is the first time the PD has done any sort of honest and critical reporting on this white elephant money canyon. The main GJ issue is that DUMB has never had any real plans on how they are going to pay for it all. Not news to me.

    Anybody not angry about DUMB isn’t paying attention.

  2. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Jim-it can’t cut into other transportation funds especially other mass transit. Without buses going regularly (SRT & SCTA) SMART doesn’t have a chance in hell getting commuters. The whole trip will take longer therefore the buses will have to run early and more often during commute times. Other mass transit is now underfunded and as a bus rider I can tell you that they are often late, break down, routes have been cut to every half hour on SRT and those are from areas like Bennett Valley where many of the few commuters have stopped taking SRT because the bus route was cut to once an HOUR. There will be bicycle riders which is good, but there is no park and ride in downtown Santa Rosa.

  3. Jim says:


    I get that, my point is we ought not always be comparing lifestyle in the US to another country.

    Keep in mind, it’s likely this thing is going to start cutting into funds (as it already has) for bus transportation and roads when it goes live. If the projected estimates are anywhere near close, a 70-80% operations funding gap is going to require a chunk of cash.

  4. Vic says:

    The point of smart is not cutting down commute times, it is all about government redirecting population growth. Government has decided that we will all be better off living next to a little train track, giving up our cars and working where the government wants the jobs to be located, wait for it, next to the train tracks.

    Does any of this make sense in a low population density area like Sonoma and Marin Counties? Well, it does to the bureaucrat statist minds working to achieve their goals of controlling our society.

  5. Steveguy says:

    Mockingbird- I get what you say- yet SMART is a HUGE money suck for real and practical transit solutions. They have spent us into a dream that reality doesn’t exist for. Expect worse ‘feeder’ routes and times due to reduced bus service or more train-centric.

    To go to SF on transit the ONLY sane way is to take the GGT 101- thank goodness the 80 bus is being axed– why ? — because the 80 took too long ! SMART thinks- Bus- Train- Ferry- Bus. Reverse process for coming home.

    They are tore out the long-ago built bus stops along 101 north of SR that were never used. I suspect park and rides. Perfect way for commutes. Both my sons use park and ride to work a trade in Downtown SF. They leave at 4:30 AM for a 6 o’clock start, then get off early for a 2 PM commute back- Just over an hour each way by car. Most don’t have that schedule and an hour later each way adds an hour to the commute each way.

    So, SMART wants a 2.5- 4 hour commute to be 5 hours ? 6 ? 7? Yes, for the planet.

    The train will consume any real transit solutions. Mark my words- and many others including BOTH County Grand Juries.

    SMART was supposed to be running by now and their excuses make ZERO sense. None, nil, notta.

  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Jim-Bear was talking about the transit systems. He might have mentioned Japan instead of China but they both have excellent mass transit.

    That’s the point. We need equity in this country for people without transportation. There are disabled people, the elderly, students, families who can’t afford cars and commuters who want to save gas and the environment. Santa Rosa is all spread out and the SRT just can’t get the job done. The funding is at bare bones right now and as a bus rider with no cars I’m not happy about the cuts. People are whining about the SMART train. SCT only goes along the Freeway and down Santa Rosa and Mendocino Ave so you have to catch SRT to get either the GG, SCT or the SMART train. This requires park and ride IN Santa Rosa if you need to go North or South.

    If you live near an SRT bus stop please consider riding the bus. Just give it a try. If you are coming downtown during the day for a lunch and a movie, or other events ride the bus. If SRT can get more commuters they will get more money and they can improve the system and add more routes that run more often, expand the times of when it runs so people can better catch SCT or GG.

  7. Jim says:


    You want to live like a rural Chinese person? Have fun with that… wait until you see your “toilet.”

  8. Bear says:

    Ever been to Europe or China?

    And we can’t get a train to run from Larkspur to Sonoma?

    I’m so proud.

  9. Steveguy says:

    Well now, does anyone realize that Larkspur voted unanimously AGAINST the SMART Plan ?

    Yes, they told SMART, ABAG, the MTC and others to take a flying leap.

    Why do we have sheep ” leading ” us ?

    Why ? Ohh, bought and paid for- never mind.

    Why hasn’t the Press Democrat write about what Larkspur just did ? Why ?