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SMART Line “Soft” Opening

Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit's (SMART) rolling stock, a Nippon Sharyo DMU photographed at Fulton, Calif. by Sonoma-rich via Wikimedia Commons Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit's (SMART) rolling stock, a Nippon Sharyo DMU photographed at Fulton, Calif. by Sonoma-rich via Wikimedia Commons

The long-awaited Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) line has started carrying passengers in what the agency describes as a “soft” opening: Trains are giving free rides on occasional trips along the 43-mile line. Full revenue service will begin as soon as the Federal Railroad Administration gives the line final safety approval, expected shortly.

The SMART line is the first completely new U.S. commuter rail system in many years. It restores passenger service along the former Northwestern Pacific line that last saw a passenger train in 1958. It initially runs between Santa Rosa Airport and San Rafael, with an extension to the Golden Gate ferry terminal at Larkspur expected soon. The full schedule will provide 34 daily trains on weekdays along the full route, using state-of-the-art diesel multiple-unit trains.

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Ed Perkins, editor

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