An Express Bus System
(financed by less than
1/2 of the Capital expenditure and
1/2 Operating cost of SMART),
is a more COST-EFFECTIVE solution to
both Marin's Traffic Congestion AND Sonoma's.
Unfortunately the DEIR
does not explore this alternative.
There is nothing in this document that
can come close to refuting this.
In the DEIR on
4. PROJECT ALTERNATIVES
page 4-20: there is no attempt to include a common sense Express Bus
Alternative. Include Express Bus service from Sonoma to the City and an
equivalent EXPENDITURE on Express Bus as that on SMART. A glaring omission
in the chart at the end of this section page(4-44) is the COST (capital and
operating) of each alternative.
The following excerpts
are from the Express Bus Alternative section:
"The Express Bus Alternative assumes the service pattern
of Golden Gate Transit service from Sonoma and Marin Counties to San
Francisco and the East Bay will generally remain consistent with that
which was in place in 2001"
"the amount of service provided will reflect approximately a 15
percent increase as compared to 2001 levels."
12 commuter routes would have two trips per peak period in the peak
close to 1/4 of that which would be made on SMART, would provide dozens more
buses, expanded (and more) Park&Ride bus stops and would enable far
more trips than 2 per route at peak. No mention is made of the cost of a
REAL Express Bus Alternative relative to the cost of SMART.
Express bus Alternative has ignored the most cost-effective solution to
Marin's AND Sonoma's Traffic Congestion, is deliberately misleading and
An Ex BART Director's
Here below is what I wrote on SMART
DEIR. What you people have written
is excellent in analyzing the DEIR but I feel there is a big void in the
DEIR in that it does not delve into current land use and development and
operation that will have important effects that the DEIR does not get
I also add to the Bus Alternative in
that it can provide for
decent future development of Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
with minimum parking where it is important to again promote decent land use
that is coordinated to transit.
Say hello to Joy Dahlgren for me. If you are attending TRB, I hope to
see you there. I am on TRBs Planning and public transportation committee.
(Roy on TRB.org : http://trb.org/directory/organization_detail.asp?c=8645 )
My Comments on SMART as
Most of SMART DEIR deals with transportation like travel times and
ridership but little on land use and development. The importance of land
development and use is just as important as the various operating
aspects of the various details in the DEIR and the success of the project.
Since rail is a fixed route system and typically the route of an old
rail line served primarily freight, its alignment is usually through an
old industrial and warehouse areas that has few residences or is in the
“across the track” type low income housing. So for the lack of
residential density to gain access for the general populace to use rail
need to use other modes than walking, which is usually a major
So how much
redevelopment and rezoning already exists is a
very important consideration and not necessarily how various cities are
planning to redevelop around the proposed stations?
Since the rail frequency is to be 30 minutes only during peak periods
with 2 mid-day trips this project is essentially a commuter system.
Operating commuter transit is more expensive than a system that provides
good all day ridership in that the hours of operating the system will be
so long it requires two shifts if the pay is based on the conventional 8
hour/day. So to operate over the 8 hour period raises operating cost
Another observation is that the more successful commuter rail
serves a destination of a relative large city that SMART does not.
Therefore only a small number of riders would use the system, which
makes for more expensive operation.
The common thought (presented by media and SMART advocates) says SMART will
relieve congestion but comparing 20 year projections of traffic
indicates SMART ridership is insignificant to affect this.
In my 32 years as a Transit Director and involved in traffic over 45 years
Public Works with portion as a City Traffic Engineer and a Professional
Engineer, I have never experienced transit to ever relieve congestion.
On the contrary transit ridership increases as congestion increases.
(Marininfo's explanation of this is that congestion increases only
if development is ALLOWED to increase. The fact that development has always
preceded the transportation needed to sustain it, explains the anomalous
correlation between freeway expansion and congestion increase. In addition
Hwy101 is the ONLY alternative for Sonoma-Marin commuters. There can be no
side-street traffic choosing to take the freeway instead.)
The success of any transit system and especially a commuter line is what
kind of development exists and one should not include future plans
for the plans may not ever materialize. If the planned development
never happens the community will be stuck with low
ridership and high
operating costs that would be a difficult burden to continue providing.
But nonetheless the communities still should plan with denser multiuse
nodes if any transit is desired for better service, frequency, less
consumption of energy and improvement to our environment.
As mentioned there will be access problems to the stations and SMART
proposes local shuttle buses to serve the rail but obviously this will
require a transfer and a wait of up to 10 minutes. Universally transit
riders do not like to transfer.
are some very successful Bus Rapid Transit
(BRT) operations that do not require passengers to transfer at a Bus Station
just prior to the bus using the; Busway, freeway with HOV, or with HOT lanes
as in New Jersey, Ottawa, Canada, Pittsburgh, PA Miami, FL and Houston TX .
These buses serve local neighborhoods first and when buses get to the
station they merely enter the preferential bus lane since they can operate
more flexibly than rail.
The buses speedily take the passengers onto their destination usually
speedier than rail because the buses will only make few stops at
intervening stations since most riders are already onboard buses when
they get to the various stations. .So buses operate express without
making any stops except at various major nodal activity stations before
getting to city center or unless the rider requests a stop.
NJ transports over 40,000 riders per hour, Ottawa 20,000, Pittsburgh
10,000. During mid-day, riders usually require transferring to the
express buses that are assigned to operate on the preferential route and
many operates every 20-30+ minutes and not just 2 trips mid-day.
Another advantage of using buses is that the service can be gradually
upgraded by implementing more bus priority facilities to gradually be an
exclusive bus only facility that can even eventually be converted into a
About access and parking:
BART has a problem of developing good Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in
that BART has so much parking (46,000 spaces) which is a burden
just to maintain, light and patrol.
The station parking is located next to where a dense mixed-use TOD should be
so the parking makes it difficult to convert to a decent TOD without
moving the parking.
A TOD could be the stimulus for areawide denser development where ridership
from the area could easily offset the parking but BART Directors are
reluctant to do this fearing the loss of riders and are prone to old
One could require the developer to fund feeder transit in lieu of replacing
existing parking on a 1 for 1 basis as currently required or build expensive
structured parking to make room for development. After all if one examines
most rail transit stations in Europe and Japan parking for transit users is
not provided and their ridership is far greater than US urban rail systems.
It would be a easier to develop decent size TODs using Buses
initially that requires minimum parking. With good nodal density at
stations, this would ensure a viable system with better all day
transit usage. Also in the future as this gradual denser
development at the stations takes
place, the system can be eventually converted into a rail system, if
Plans for Express Bus from Santa Rosa to the city will
negate any need for rail. And look how cheap it is
(they call it
Rapid Bus but its
not. Rapid Bus would have a lane totally devoted to bus).
2025 MORNING PEAK PERIOD RIDERSHIP FOR WINDSOR TO SAN RAFAEL ALTERNATIVE
Travel Demand Forecasting Report
So at morning peak (for 3 hours 6am-9am), in
Commuters OUT of Marin to Sonoma are 78
Arrivals from Sonoma
(111 are Marin southbound)
This is the Sonoma
Congestion we are removing from the freeway southbound in 2025 !
-- FORGET IT !
(The 191 from Mike, below,
is the less likely Alternative Cloverdale to Larkspur)
The 149 is
calculable from the chart above.
The southbound OFF total for Marin is 118 + 96 +
11 + 35 = 260 (between North Novato and Civic Center).
But also some Marin folks, too, are traveling
southbound. The Southbound Marinites are those in the ON column 46 + 40 + 25
= 111 (also between North Novato and Civic Center).
The difference, 149, is Sonoma folks who are alighting at Marin stations
(between 6am and 9am).
Marin Citizens for Effective Transportation:
Preliminary Analysis of
the SMART Design Review,
which is incredible for what it doesn't tell the public and just as
incredible for what it does tell the public. Appendix I is filled
with little gems that
show what a crock the train is for Marin.
This is the DEIR numbers:
- 108 people will take 7 trains to Larkspur in the morning rush hours
or 15 people per train.
- Only 191 Sonoma residents will ride the train to Marin in the
morning rush on 7 trains.
- SMART predicts 3x as many riders will take the one midday train as
the peak hour trains. (Yep, they made it up. Did they think I
- 15% of the ridership are Marin Co. residents. 33% of the cost
is paid by Marin Co.
- The extension to Larkspur increases ridership by 1/3 over the MOS
alternative, but if you look closely, it's the extension from Windsor to
Cloverdale that generates the additional riders, not to Larkspur.
- According to SMART figures ---AND IF YOU ASSUME NONE OF THESE ARE
BUS RIDERS -- only about 200 cars will be taken out
of the southbound morning commute on hwy 101 over a 3+ hour peak period.
Capacity of a freeway lane is about 2,000 cars/hr. Take 200/3 = 67.
With 3 lanes. That's about 45 seconds of traffic. Since
some of these riders would be coming from buses, the actual effect on
traffic is even less.
- The DEIR cites capital costs of $340 million
which is already over a year old and out of date by at least 5%.
(Net effect $17 million). Operating expenses of 10-13 million don't
include the higher costs of energy because they were calculated prior to
the run-up in energy prices. The bus shuttles touted in the
DEIR are not budgeted in the Expenditure Plan and based on conservative
cost figures cost about twice as much or $2Million/year, not
- SMART likes to claim the "annual operating costs are
$10-13Million". Funny how this number doesn't pencil out to
the $32 million/year they intend to raise from sales taxes. The
difference is in debt expenses. Yep, SMART plans to spend over 50%
of every tax dollar raised on debt costs, not transportation improvements.
- Read carefully how they specified the alternative express bus
routes. Notice that there are no additional routes for buses into
SF. When I asked a SMART representative why they did this, the
answer was "it wouldn't be fair." To whom?
$4Million dollars and months of delay for a document that
is so inadequate that the Board should be embarrassed
to have issued it.
The public has until Jan. 23 to comment on
the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit draft environmental document.
document is online click on
TRAVEL DEMAND FORECASTING REPORT
Comments may be submitted to SMART,
attention Lillian Hames, 4040 Civic Center Drive, Suite 200, San Rafael, Ca.
94903 or by email at
Copies can be ordered on CD from SMART. Hard copies are available for
$60 to cover printing and shipping.
Two public hearings are scheduled to
take public comment:
6 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chambers,
575 Administration Drive in Santa Rosa, and
9 a.m. on Jan. 21 at the Marin County Board of Supervisors Chambers,
3501 Civic Center Drive in San Rafael.
For more information, call 415-492-2857.
report can be viewed at the following locations:
- Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, 4040 Civic
Center Drive, Suite 200, San Rafael,
- Civic Center Library, 3501
Civic Center Drive, room 414, San Rafael,
- Santa Rosa Central Library, 211 E Street, Santa Rosa,
- Metropolitan Transportation Commission Library, 101 8th
MarinInfo's comments on
SMART RAIL - click for more info
Typical of the misinformation SMART has been propagating up till now and
something that the Sonoma people need to know more than Marinites. It is
necessary to have an analysis demonstrating how an EXPRESS BUS alternative
more cost effectively reduces traffic congestion in Sonoma as well as Marin.
One of our main requests
of SMART was to thoroughly compare all the
different options and scenarios of an EXPRESS BUS alternative. It looks like
they have totally avoided or suppressed this .
Folks, pass this on to all the Sonomans you know.
An EXPRESS BUS alternative reduces traffic congestion
more than rail. Money spent on SMART will change congestion minimally as it
is diverted away from an express-bus-on-freeway alternative that far more
cost-effectively reduces congestion.