October 19, 2018
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site Scrappers Steal Win Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ New interim superintendent Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park Cotati approves tree lighting Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete Seawolves serve up a victory 3.0 quake shakes Rohnert Park Cardinals rout Cougars Fire storm anniversary Arrests and charges target Apple stores It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP Lowerys help with campaign Cotati residents decry lack of enforcement Spreckels and Alchemia connects community RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Another tough break for roller derby RP fireworks to be added to agenda Busy night for RP City Council Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program The biggest little parade in the U.S.A. celebrates the 4th It’s not quite tennis, nor is it pickle ball, but rather something in between. SweetPea celebrates 31 years Football in full swing, 3rd win Cotati votes opposition to oil leases 3.0 quake shakes RP Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open 98 cited in traffic enforcement program RP Public Safety report card Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Enjoying ribs A seed of thought grows into a peace garden: Burton garden completed RP residents provide input in police chief search Imitating major leaguers A taste of nostalgia – Penngrove’s Power Up! Event RP’s new interim police chief Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Police officers inspect inside of car Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years Kid’s Day Parade celebrates our hometown heroes March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Kids and firefighters compete in RP Cougars slay Dragons Rohnert Park Bike & Pedestrian Committee adds new member How to help victims of wildfires Plan approved for Station Ave. park Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery New principals 2018-2019 Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Office of Civil Rights agreement closes investigation of special ed complaint Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Supply giveaways lend a hand to families RP to host community forum for public safety director search Search still on for A&L Market robbery suspect A unique university for dogs: Bergin University makes Hatchery and Green Mill buildings its new home RP waits to make update to emergency alert system SSU names new police chief International students continue to flock to SSU’s Language Institute RP Health Center celebrates anniversary

SMART celebrates a year of service

By: Katherine Minkiewicz
August 3, 2018

After its first year of carrying countless passengers from the San Rafael/Santa Rosa corridor, the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) system is celebrating its one-year anniversary on August 18 with free service and a kid-friendly festival. 

At the time of writing this article, the rail service has carried a whopping 660,000 passengers since opening its doors and revving up its engines last August according to SMART statistics. 

Jeanne Mariani-Belding, SMART spokeswoman, says ridership has been extremely frequent. 

“Ridership has been consistently strong and we have had an amazing first year. Our community has been through a lot over the past year and we are fortunate and grateful to have such strong and loyal support,” Mariani-Belding said.

The peak time of service is typically around weekday commute hours from 6-9 a.m. and in the afternoon from 3-6 p.m.

SMART Board Member and Rohnert Park City Council member, Jake Mackenzie, says service has indeed seemed busy, especially with early morning commuters.

“We’ve met our targets and prior to the start of service last August there were a lot of naysayers out there saying that it was the train to nowhere, but there are commuters that I’ve ridden with who go to San Rafael or Santa Rosa, who go to work in Novato or at the Marin Civic Center at 6:30 a.m. It is not a train to nowhere, it is a train to somewhere,” Mackenzie said.

Vice Chairwoman of SMART’s Board of Directors, Judy Arnold, echoed Mackenzie’s thoughts, saying that SMART has had a healthy and thriving ridership for the past year.

“In just one year of service, SMART has been fortunate to have a strong and loyal ridership,” Arnold said in a statement to the press.

Mariani-Belding said the agency was surprised to have surpassed their goal and their weekend ridership numbers.

“Our strong weekend readership numbers were a pleasant surprise. We are seeing people from across the Bay Area and an increasing number of visitors from outside California as well,” Mariani-Belding said.

Compared to Petaluma’s early to mid-years with their bus transit system, which had around 163,000 riders in 2008 according to the national transit database, SMART’s outlook for a stronger ridership seems strong. 

Yet, despite its great success the commuter rail service still has a few things to work on, such as making the costly extension to Cloverdale and Healdsburg a reality.

“People wish there were more trains on the weekend, but the dream is that we extend all the way to Cloverdale and Larkspur. From funding we do have the ability to get to Larkspur and that should be ready by fall of 2019,” Mackenzie said. “But it may be a few years until we get tracks to Cloverdale and due to the economic recession in 2008/2009 it has taken a long time… But we have been relentless in working with state and federal funding to complete it.”

Mackenzie also said the system needs more carrying capacity in order to compensate for the larger amount of ridership than was originally expected.

“We will have increased carrying capacity this fall, but to get the train staffed is a major thing, especially in Sonoma County and they have to be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration,” Mackenzie explained.

Despite these minor setbacks, board members at SMART are excited about their one-year celebration, which will take place August 18 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Novato Hamilton Station.

“This celebration is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to our North Bay Community for making our passenger rail service a huge success,” said Deborah Fudge, SMART board of directors’ chairwoman.

The festival will feature live music, local beer and wine, food trucks and free children’s’ activities and free train service and extra trips from August 18-19.

Arnold said of the event, “This is a wonderful way to share our gratitude with our community — it is time to celebrate.”