SMART’s Implementation Plan
The November 2008 vote in favor of Measure Q set in motion a chain of events that will bring passenger rail service to Marin and Sonoma Counties beginning in Fall 2014. What follows is a broad description of the many tasks that SMART must complete between now and the day that the trains start running.
Measure Q itself was a financial decision: Voters decided to raise the sales tax by ¼ of 1 percent in both counties in order to pay for the engineering, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the SMART train and pathway for the next 20 years. The sales tax increase took effect on April 1, 2009. SMART began receiving the proceeds of the tax in July 2009.
While the work to get passenger trains running in the North Bay is not yet easily visible to the public, it is proceeding on schedule. SMART’s Board of Directors, staff and consultants are working on a number of fronts, including selecting rail vehicles, designing stations and engineering the many elements of the project that will come together in this 70-mile train and pathway project. The first phase of this work, called Advanced Conceptual Engineering, should be completed by the end of Summer 2010. At that time SMART will revisit cost and revenue projections for the project.
Design and engineering activities will continue through 2011, with the bulk of construction work on the project scheduled to take place in 2012-2014. Vehicles will be delivered and tested beginning in 2013. Passenger rail service is expected to begin in Fall 2014. Here’s a graphic view of that timeline:
Meanwhile, SMART’s Board and staff will be pursuing resolution of other issues that involve other agencies, such as:
- An operating agreement between SMART and NCRA
- NEPA Clearance (federal environmental approval)
- Federal Railroad Administration and California Public Utilities Commission review and approvals
- Quiet Zone submittals and approvals
- Bus and shuttle infrastructure requirements at stations
As SMART moves closer to the start-up of train service, several other issues will come up for review, including:
- Bus and ferry schedule coordination
- Station area planning work
- Fare structures
- Fare reciprocity agreements
- Shuttle operating agreements
Clearly there is plenty of work to be done in the coming years. The SMART Board of Directors will be relying on several Board subcommittees for key decisions. The Executive Committee will be responsible for financial issues, personnel, bonding decisions and citizen committee appointments. The Real Estate and Project Development Committee will handle property management, station issues, pathway issues, the maintenance facility and other issues that arise with SMART’s right of way. The Operations Committee will deal with the NCRA operating agreement, vehicle selection, quiet zones, shuttle planning, transit coordination and other issues.
Citizens also will be asked to help get SMART up and running. Community workshops will be held on such issues as vehicle selection, vehicle amenities and design, station planning and amenities, pathway recommendations, transit integration, fare structure and others.
SMART staff will make regular reports to the Board of Directors on the progress of the SMART project. The Board meets on the third Wednesday of each month, alternating between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. For a schedule of upcoming SMART meetings, click here.