SMART sets $9.50 fare for Santa Rosa to San Rafael ride

The SMART commuter train’s Board of Directors Wednesday agreed on an introductory $9.50 one-way fare between downtown Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael.

The vote at the Board’s meeting in Petaluma was not unanimous. Sonoma County Supervisors David Rabbitt and Shirlee Zane voted against the proposed fare which they said should be lower.

Service between Airport Boulevard in northern Santa Rosa and downtown San Rafael is scheduled to start later this year.

The Board approved a base fare of $3.50 and a $2 charge for travel to each additional zone along the 43-mile initial phase of the train’s operation. Fifty percent discounts will be available to riders 65 and up, youth and passengers with disabilities and for veterans using an ECO-Pass.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District staff anticipates average weekday ridership of 3,070 and weekend ridership at 10 percent of weekday.

The fare rate approved Wednesday drew mixed comments on SMART’s Facebook page. Said one commenter:

“It sounds like it will be the DUMB empty train.”

Said another:

“It’s better than being stuck on (Highway) 101 for hours on end.”

Marin and Sonoma county voters approved a quarter-cent sales tax hike for the SMART project that included a bike and pedestrian path in November 2008.

The train was to run 72 miles between Cloverdale and Larkspur but was scaled back to the Santa Rosa-San Rafael segment because of the recession, under-performing investments and less tax revenue than anticipated.

The SMART project is expected to be extended to Larkspur by 2018 then on to Windsor and Cloverdale.