SMART asks Marin for $10-12m to Fund and Complete Each Station

SMART is asking to divert “astounding” amounts of money from genuinely cost effective and green transportation programs in Marin, in the words of Transportation Authority of Marin Executive Director Dianne Steinhauser. Watch from the 59m 30s mark of the October 22nd  Transportation Authority of Marin board meeting to see this outrage unfold: http://marin.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=7785 In the last week SMART has revealed at the Transportation Authority of Marin board of directors meeting that each SMART station in Marin will need $10-12m in funding. (Jump to the 59m 30s mark). There are 4 stations in Marin, 5 if Larkspur is included. This request is truly preposterous and should not be honored by TAM, let alone even entertained. Voters gave SMART the money it stated it would need to build the entire line from Cloverdale to Larkspur, including stations and a greenway path for bike and pedestrians connecting all the stations and shuttles – the funding was the 1/4c sales tax. SMART is breaching agreements by diverting funds from truly cost effective and green transportation projects into its boondoggle – a boondoggle without ridership projections, just a leap of faith. This is yet another broken SMART promise. SMART is now doing exactly what was foreseen – cannibalizing transportation project...

SMART – Quiet Zone and Financial Update

Many hundreds of San Rafael and Novato residents stand to be impacted or significantly impacted by 100 dB SMART Train horns that will commence at around 5:45am every weekday. Most of these residents remain unaware. Test soundings of horns along the line can be heard “loud and clear” 1 1/2 miles away. Over 390 cities have implemented “Quiet Zones”. These require not insignificant expenditure – millions by the train operator, possibly tens of thousands by cities – and that cities apply to the Federal Railroad Administration for a Quiet Zone. Quiet Zones remove trains obligations to blow their horns for 15-20 seconds as they approach railroad crossings. San Rafael has sufficient railroad crossings that this means the train will be sounding it’s horn near continuously. There will be 22 trains per day concentrated to morning and evening peaks. Even though Quiet Zones eliminate these horns  considerable noise will remain: The train is required to blow it’s horn when departing each station  (E.g. Civic Center) Bells will ring at each crossing as crossing arms go up or down The diesel engine and wheels will make noise San Rafael Quiet Zone Update 1) In a July presentation SMART made to Sonoma County Alliance, it stated the following which is concerning and might signal a backtrack on Quiet Zones: If the FRA or CPUC require additional capital outlays as part of a jurisdiction’s QZ application, those expenditures are not covered by SMART. 2) A specific cost that we know is part of the Quiet Zone process is the “diagnostics” that need to be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Nadar Mansourian,...
A Sign of the End of the Line for SMART?

A Sign of the End of the Line for SMART?

Today, August 5th, the Marin IJ’s Dick Spotswood published an article “Marin close to state cap for sales tax measures”  that Marin’s county and city sales taxes are about to reach their limit of 2% (on top of the existing 7.5% state sales tax).  If (when) sales taxes reach this ceiling this potentially has serious, possibly disastrous consequences for SMART, if not all of Marina and Sonoma’s taxpayers. SMART  polled voters and even though it needed 1/2c to build and run scaled back to 1/4c as the polls showed 1/4c tax raise is all voters would support. But if the sales tax limit cap is reached – and the planes for new taxes that would reach this limit are already stacked up and lining up to land – then this may not be feasible. The alternative is to hike property taxes – which are much harder to get through and place a much greater burden on homeowners(as opposed to people who work in or who are passing through the county but do not live here). Excuse #1: “But It’s Because of the Recession” Already SMART is blaming 2 year delays and cutting line length in half  on the recession. This  is a *phony* argument. Supervisors Arnold and Sears used it just last week in an op ed entitled “SMART’s making steady progress toward starting service“. Then the same excuse was used again today, August 5th, by the chairman of “Friends of SMART” in a Sonoma Press Democrat “In response to the grand jury criticism“. Analyzing the Excuse Sure, the recession reduced sales, but only temporarily. But the recession also significantly...