On October 21st SMART published a new document outlining an additional $622m required to complete the SMART train project:
These asks can be broken down as follows:
- $178m – Extend from Santa Rosa to Cloverdale.
This was promised to be delivered to voters within the original Measure Q funding request.
- $42.53m – Extend from San Rafael to Larkspur
Again this was promised within the original Measure Q.
- $53m – Add additional ‘C’ cars (third middle carriages)
SMART’s ridership numbers do not merit this additional expense as covered in this Marin Voice piece that I co-authored with Mike Arnold.
- $40m - Rail freight improvements
Why are taxpayers being asked to foot the bill to help commercial freight operations? If there’s a return on investment for taxpayers we’ve yet to see this articulated.
- $29m - Rail operations capacity enhancements – handling freight, Positive Train Control (safety system) maintenance.
Positive Train Control is a foreseeable requirement – this should have been in Measure Q.
- $11m – Petaluma, add a second station and “associated amenities”
Before adding stations it would be better for SMART to understand if it will generate sufficient ridership to justify adding stations. This station by itself will hardly tip the balance.
- $124m – Construct the SMART bike path
This was originally promised to be delivered by Measure Q; costs were projected to be $91m in 2009
- $120m – Add facilities to stations
…including station furniture, ADA features, landscaping, bike and car parking and sharing, real time transit signage, “intermodal improvements”, security enhancements and programs for car sharing
- $24m to cover operational costs for local partnerships with bus operators
…these are the shuttles that were again promised to be provided by Measure Q
What this means is that the price tag of SMART, as promised to voters in Measure Q, is going to almost double from $429m – the most recently stated SMART cost figure (source page 7, Nov 2010 Board of Directors Public Workshop), to $1.05 billion.
Additional Useful Insight
Documents from November 2010 SMART Board Workshop show that SMART set aside $213m from the Measure Q 1/4c sales tax bond issue for construction. (Some of the sales tax revenue was set aside to cover annual operating costs). SMART elected to convert a large portion of the annual sales tax revenues into bonds so that they would have the cash up front to construct the line. Of course this figure never came anywhere close to even the $429m let alone the now apparent billion dollar price tag. SMART was always going to need 1/2c sales tax.