Sonoma railway to begin operation at the end of the year, boarding schedule released

Students will have an extra way to get around when the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) begins operation at the end of 2016. As of April 2016, proposed boarding times and station schedules were released.

In an email sent out to students last week, the Sonoma State Chief of Police Nathan Johnson attached a memo from SMART’s board of directors released April 6, detailing the proposed schedule.

The tentative schedule calls for northbound trains to stop in Rohnert Park at 17 minutes and 47 minutes during most hours of the day from 7:17 a.m. to 8:17 p.m. Southbound trains will stop at 8 minutes and 38 minutes after the hour from 5:08 a.m. to 6:08 p.m. Fewer stops will occur in the middle of the day.  The trip from Rohnert Park to San Rafael will take 48 minutes while the trip to the Sonoma County Airport will take 19 minutes.The proposed schedule also includes times for weekend and holiday service.  

SMART is preparing to launch its passenger service by the end of the year according toSMART spokeswoman Jeanne Mariani-Belding. “Our initial 43-mile operating segment will run from northern Santa Rosa, near the Sonoma County Airport, to downtown San Rafael.”
The railway’s lines, which will run through major cities in both Sonoma and Marin counties are also set to expand in phase two of the project. Once phase two of SMART is complete, the rail will go from Cloverdale in Sonoma County to Larkspur Ferry in Marin County.

“Plans are to begin construction on the Larkspur connection next year,” said Belding. “We are also planning to connect to Larkspur so that people can link up with the ferry to San Francisco. And we also have plans to expand further north to Windsor and Cloverdale.”
Alongside SMART, bus lines will be integrated with the rail line. In Rohnert Park, the rail line will be roughly 3.5 miles from campus and integrated with the current Roberts Lake Park and Ride lot.

The lot, which is located East of Highway 101, is a bus transit hub with parking spaces for 180 cars.

“With regards to the university [Sonoma State], the closest location is in Rohnert Park off of Golf Course Drive and Roberts Lake Road,” said Bryan Albee, the transit systems manager for theSonoma County Transit Authority. “The Park and Ride is both a bus and SMART station.”
In order to introduce residents to the new rail line and maintain safety, various measures are being taken before the system is open to the public.

“Safety is a top priority for us, so we have been working hard to let the public know that we are currently running trains, testing our crossing gates and testing our train control and communication systems,” said Belding. “Drivers should be alert at all crossing gates, whether or not they see a train – we are testing our crossing gates both with and without trains.”

Although SMART works with agencies such as the Sonoma County Transit Authority, much of the main safety measures are being overseen and tested by the rail service.
More than80 percent of all North Bay commercial, residential and educational facilities are located along the SMART corridor.  

More information about the rail line can be found atsonomamarintrain.org.