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SMART news: 70% of PAC poll will ride train, next to build it.
Sunday 23 Nov 2008, 10:02
Filed under: bicycle, Marin, Railroad, SMART, Sonoma, trails

Do you plan to ride the passenger trains when they are up and running?

PAC poll on SMART train

PAC poll on SMART train

More than 70 percent of respondents to an Argus-Courier online poll Nov. 13, 2008 say they plan to ride the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit passenger trains “frequently” or “occasionally” when the service is up and running in about five years.

Note, this is an unscientific poll.

Next for SMART: Build a railroad

The type of train to be used – heavy or light diesel trains – will be first up on the agenda. Heavy vehicles have steel bodies and are designed to operate along with freight service. Light vehicles are made of materials like aluminum and can only operate when no freight service is present, or if they run at different times. There is expected to be some freight service on SMART’s tracks…..

…..The measure needed support from a combined two-thirds of voters to pass, and got 69.1 percent. It received 62.4 percent approval in Marin and 73.5 percent in Sonoma.

ODDS & ENDS: Novato was supposedly a hot bed of opposition to the now approved SMART train. The political wisdom was that the safe route to electoral success in North Marin was to oppose SMART. Imagine the surprise at City Hall when Measure Q, the one-quarter cent sales tax proposal to fund commuter rail, achieved a stunning 63 percent in Novato. The upshot was that north county residents were as eager as any Marinite for an alternative to freeway gridlock. Now it’s up to Novato’s City Council to finalize the location of Novato’s two new train stations. It would be a gross error not to include one of the depots in the city’s revitalized old downtown.

Marin’s winners and losers in the Nov. 4 vote

MEASURE Q was the successful effort to pass a one-quarter cent tax to fund construction and operation of commuter trains between Sonoma and Marin.

Its victory was a major win for San Rafael Mayor Al Boro, Supervisor Charles McGlashan, and Assemblymember Jared Huffman.

They all put their prestige and political capital behind Q.

Boro and McGlashan were the public faces of the pro-rail campaign.

Huffman was often the behind-the-scenes player whose roles included facilitating settlement of the lawsuit over operation of freight trains through Novato.

Also looking good after the measure’s 69.5-percent victory was Larkspur Councilmember Dan Hilmer. He fashioned the compromise that will likely link up the end of the track and the Larkspur Ferry Terminal with a moving sidewalk across Sir Francis Drake Boulevard.

Losers include Novato Mayor Pat Eklund and two members of the Marin Board of Supervisors: Judy Arnold and Hal Brown, all longtime rail opponents.

The three put their prestige on the line, yet Measure Q passed by a substantial majority in each of their bailiwicks.

The post-election question is whether they can shift from being rail opponents to adopting a new role of working to make the SMART train an effective element in North Bay mobility.

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