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Dec 2014 Mike Arnold on SMART the Boondoggle

If they can come close to the Average weekday Ridership by mile of 27 for the Capitol Corridor (San Jose / Oakland/ Sacramento) then they will have the equivalent of 526 roundtrips (terminal to terminal). This takes only 48 cars off the freeway per Peak Hour. 


It's Official: SMART takes the equivalent of 91 cars off the Hwy101 commute  .
Daily Roundtrips mon-frid is 990.
 (let's generously assume all of the trips are at peak, 6-9am and 4:30-7:30pm).
APTA says only 42% of Train Rides come from Displaced Single Occupant Vehicles so its
990 x 42% = 416 ex-car riders now  commuting by train.
The average occupancy of a car on the freeway is 1.4 people so  416 /1.4  = 297 cars. If the average train journey is 12 miles ( out of the 39 miles  from Santa Rosa to San Rafael) then the
average effect of SMART at any point on HWY101 is 297 x 12/39 = 91 cars less during the commute.
One freeway lane transmits 2,400 cars in one peak hour, 3 lanes is 7,200 and during the 3 hour commute that's 7,200 x 3 = 21,600.
So SMART can reduce the commute by (91 / 21,600)  that's 0.42 percent  of cars on the freeway!

The EIR Peak 6 Hours (3hrs morn, 3hrs evening)
Ridership Prediction for 2025 was 2,580 round-trips per day
And all for a mere $1.5+ billion.


 Not to mention Up-to-Date developments of St Vincents and Silveira Proceedings
Moving the San Rafael Transit Center
The Search for the Holy Rail
San Diego Train Ridership drops
$38 million in State cap-and-trade funds to extend to Windsor by 2020
4 trains Northbound and
4 1/2 Southbound peak hours.
* SMART asks for another $622 million
Proposed North Coast Hiking Trail (& SMART to own NCRA)
Marc Levine wants end to MTC
Ridership Analysis of SMART DEIR
Double Transit Funding SBX 1 8
400% investment return BUS RAPID TRANSIT
So looking at Appendix C Nov 2014 there will be no more than half of the track from Santa Rosa to Santa Rafael with a bike path. The cost for the other half is $40 million - the same as the cost of the Larkspur Extension (page 16)!

SMART's Faulty Financial Plan

Hwy101 with 60,000 more Sonomans?
IJ News on SMART
Adams Amendment derailed
SB 142 Authorizes a transit district to levy an assessment on real property to finance transit projects.
Los Angeles Transit Orientated Development (TOD) debunked
SB628 multi-million dollar 30-year Bonds for Transit and TOD without the usually required taxpayer vote !
Plan Bay Area Truths
Propositions to create a SPECIAL TAX  (that used to need a 2/3 majority)  may pass with only a 55% majority
How SMART gets $2.5 million in Federal earmark by eliminating the EXPRESS BUS alternative
Los Angeles Rail vs Bus
San Jose VTA light rail among the nation's worst
SMART San Rafael Flooding
Planning and Affordable Housing in Marin
Civic Center Land Development
Possible Develeopment on Open Space
Rail right-of-way becomes successful Bikepath instead of Light Railway
Sonoma Taxpayers $23 mil. gift to SMART
Understanding the true Cost of SMART v AUTO
Sales Tax Wasted
Actual cost of widening HWY101 Marin-Sonoma revealed
SMART Scoping Requirements
The $25 Billion Bullet Train
Search for the Holy Rail
Current National Status of Light Rail
MTC last among major metropolitan areas in spending on road capacity
San Quentin Vision Plan
Transportation Experts Oppose Light Rail in Orange County
Prohibition of road improvements is not an effective way to control growth
Sprawl is not caused by road building
$3.5 billion Bridge Toll increase to be mis-spent
MTC Cost Effectiveness
Congestion Relief is NOT a goal of the Marin Transportation  Plan !
Marin Transit Plan Project Costs
Suburbs Forever
MTC Expenditures
New Urbanism
St Vincents Funding
St Vincents Postmortem
Most Californians don't back 'smart growth' and they include the only part of the population that is growing - minorities and immigrants
San Quentin Vision
BART Director & County Supervisor on RAIL
County's $1.5 bil Transportation Plan
Induced Traffic Myth
A Referendum saved  Novato from Development
SMART supposed Benefits v Truth
"SMART FACTS" doc debunked
Already 100,000s of affordable houses near Marin
Rail mistakes in LA, Utah, Sacramento
San Antonio rail to remove no more than one out of every 250 cars
SMART Passenger Predictions
Scary part of the San Rafael Gen Plan
1990-97 in California, Houses increased more than Jobs
Transit Cost Comparison   Cost Effectiveness
ABAG "promoting" development
SMART Daily Passenger Predictions - 

Source SMART Travel Demand forecasting Page 43 

by 2025

Peak-4-hour-Boardings Northbound all stations


Peak 4 hour Boardings Southbound all stations


SMART DESIGN REVIEW's Express Bus ALTERNATIVE assumes the "bus service .......
 remain consistent
with that which was in place in 2001".

No attempt is made to compare the equivalent expenditure of $590 million on a Bus System

To quote a Marin County Supervisor: " for rail to be financially viable, there needs to be a higher than current intensity of land use (development) within close proximity to the stations or the system will be highly inefficient economically. That is the time-proven reality of this mode of transportation."


SMART Financials to 2029. 
The 2014 Financials are Phase 1 only and appear to omit 2009-2011.
2008 includes Phase 2.

2008(2009-2029) Source Phase 1 & 2 2014(2012 - 2029) source Phase1  
(The 2010 Workshop )
Capital Construction
$354mil 273mil Bond Interest
$464m   388mil Operating
  * 24m Shuttles
  * 120m Miscalculation of Stations Costs
  * 124m Bikepath !
* 220m   Phase2: SantaRosa-Clvrdale & SanRaf-Larkspur
  * 133m Extras that were not even in Phase2
$1.5 billion 1.1 or 1.5 billion TOTAL COST Phase1
    funding diverted to SMART
 $215 182 Bonds
 $845      752 sales tax
$132 61 Farebox Revenues
$54 3.9 Interest Earnings
  16.2 Measure M Rail (Bond and Paygo)
$28 48.4 Bridge Toll $1 increase 2004 ( Measure 2)
  28 Proposition 116
  46 ISTEA Funds +
SLPP + SCTA/ MTC Vehicle + misc grants + other
$37   2000 Trans Congestion Relief
$20 15.3 State Transit Assistance 2014 diverted from GG
  8 Joint Development Lease Revenue
  12.9 Lease and Other Operating Revenues (Grows at CPI)
$50    Federal Earmarks ASSUMED
$28   other
  142 Total Reg., State, Fed. & Other Revenues
  13 Earnings Rate on Cash
$1.4 billion 1.43 billion  TOTAL INCOME
Phase 2 is Cloverdale to Larkspur Phase 1 is Santa Rosa to San Rafael  

As the 2014 INCOME is consistent with 2008's and 2014's COST, we can assume the total cost is $1.5 BILLION not 1.1 .

Also it appears they published before they were rejected from $20mil. federal “Small Starts” program which it appears
they included -- they talk as if they already got it, - in the text.

And they finally have a realistic FAREBOX REVENUE $61 mil. ( down from $132 in 2008).

 (less, since the Transporation Authority of Marin (TAM) had to bail them out)

Given the best case scenario of an average of 3,000 round trips per weekday  15,000/week x 52 x 13 = 10,140,000 roundtrips over 13 years (2016-2029)--  projected Farebox Revenues of $61 mil. means the average ticket needs to be $6

The Fare Structure is based on zone travel, with a $3.50 base fare and $2 charge for each zone line crossed. That equates to an average overall fare of $5.25 with discounts factored in. Without discounts, the average fare is $7.50.

The rate structure is projected to generate initial annual revenue of $3.9 million, about 13 percent of the agency’s operating budget. Currently, about 85 percent of that $30 million operating budget plus $16 million Bond Interest is covered by sales tax from Measure Q, the voter-approved rail initiative passed by voters in 2008.

Planning/Design Source $14m way higher
Capital Costs (inc. EIR/EIS) $162m  $360m $548m
net Interest Payments $34 higher
Operating Costs $133 higher

They tell us that "Annual Rail Fare Revenue will be $3 mil while operating cost will be $9 mil giving an annual loss of $6mil".
But the table above shows the loss (subsidy) to be $10 mil.

SMART's 1,392 Peak Time Boardings will make little dent in the current 39,000 out-of-County daily commuters coming to work IN Marin. But SMART will have redirected $590 million away from a comprehensive Express Bus System & 101 Freeway expansion to Richmond Bridge.

Marin AND Sonoma is nowhere near developed enough to justify rail. Even if Sonoma were more  developed, the argument for rail would still be futile, looking at the damning data for rail elsewhere in the country and the relative cheapness of Hwy101 expansion HERE.

On Hwy 101 at San Rafael  -  in One Lane during the morning rush hour - 2,300 vehicles pass thru per hour. One Hwy101 freeway lane "conducts" more than 25,000 vehicles per day. Compare that to the SMART rail prediction of saving a maximum of  1,900 car trips per day.   Put Rapid Bus in that lane and you get 40,000 passengers per day. So you can see how MUCH MORE COST EFFECTIVE investing in the Freeway and an Express Bus System is compared to any rail alternative. Lets not divert our our money away from a far more cost effective way of reducing traffic congestion to a rail system, that it has been admitted by SMART itself, will have an insignificant effect on traffic congestion.

The Sierra Club sponsored a debate between the PRO and  CON factions of SMART.
The PRO argument amounted to no more than one statement: "If you care about Global Warming you need to support SMART".

But it is the opposite that is  the truth.
If you care about Global Warming then
you need to have voted
against SMART.
For so much money would be diverted away from
a far more cost effective way of reducing traffic congestion,
(an Express Bus System utilizing car pool lanes),
to a rail system that will make
no significant change to traffic congestion.
 Global Warming would have been more benefited by the
Bus Alternative
than by the relative increase in congestion from SMART rail.

This applies even more in Sonoma than Marin
Sonoma's traffic problems ,
especially future problems from relatively more development,
will be far more adversely effected by
diverting much needed finance away from
comprehensive Bus Systems
(think how many new clean and quiet buses
can be bought for $548 million more
 with bus routes that can be more flexibly changed
to meet that new development
than can any fixed rail system).

Each Household in Marin has spent $709 on average on SMART through June 30, 2016
Households in Marin: 103,882
SMART’s Sales Tax Income (FY 2016) = $34.8 M
Marin’s Share ( not Sonoma) = 36.6% = $12.7 M
= $122/year per Houshold (2016) = $709 since tax began April 1, 2009
over 20 years = $2,440 average per household
The poor pay over 10% of their income to SALES TAX compared to 5.4% for the rich. = REGRESSIVE

Mike Arnold:

SMART will increase congestion in downtown San Rafael and this will back-up traffic onto 101 during the peak commute hours.

The congestion impacts will be more significant if they extend the rail to Larkspur.   Traffic on 2nd and 3rd street will be impacted by crossing gates.   And it will take 6 subsequent traffic light changes before SEQUENCING takes affect again.

 Did the MTC even consider these impacts when it reassigned $20 mil. in RM-2 funds from the Greenbrae Interchange project to SMART?   Under the  general heading of “connectivity”  MTC (via Kinsey) rationalized making it much more likely that the  FTA will award the $16MM in federal funds.   (Still waiting on this.)

Meanwhile millions of $'s continue to get diverted from more worthy (but less popular) transit systems, that utilize hybrid technology and are currently taking far more riders than SMART is envisioned to ever take.     Btw, what is the cost of relocating the downtown transit center and who is going to pay for that?  (This will be necessary if SMART is awarded the federal dollars.)

 This is years and years of bad news for San Rafael.

 What the public hasn’t yet realized is how brittle SMART’s financial outlook is.   No one will bail them out when the next recession hits, reducing their key revenue stream and reducing ridership.    That’s when the real fun and games begin.   Watch for the begging for an additional quarter cent begins.

 If the BOS puts on another tax measure for transportation it ought to be opposed under the argument “these people aren’t credible and will do what they want, just like they did when the stole $8mil. from Marin Co to bail out SMART.”   Will it be enough to keep them from obtaining a 2/3 vote?

They don’t have money for shuttles  --- they’ll be going after MC transit district to re-route buses  (they won’t take many passengers and Diane Steinhauser knows it) they don’t have money for stations:  --
San Rafael
will have to cough up the $$$ if they want to build something
different.  They certainly aren’t going to pay for San Rafael to redesign the traffic signalling infrastructure.  And we’re still waiting to hear what cities will have to pay to obtain Quiet Zones.  Yet, they just drafted a financial plan that concludes they have tons of extra dollars every year of operation.

The financial plan draft states that it "uses a fairly conservative estimate of 3 percent annual growth in sales tax revenues." In fact, the plan's assumption is anything but conservative, when compared with historical experience. SMART has assumed sales tax revenues will rise faster than the historical average.

SMART assumes Operating Expenses grow at the inflation rate, that there will be no increase in:
 ----- the price of diesel and
 ----- wages
between now and 2028.

This assumption is totally out of line with the experience of other Bay Area transit operators. It's hardly "conservative" to assume that diesel prices will NOT grow faster than the general price level or that SMART staff won't get a wage increase between now and 2028.

SMART is committed to paying back the bonds it issued in 2012 with a payment schedule that increases over time.

 By 2028, SMART is obligated to pay over $20 million, or half of every sales tax dollar.

Sales taxes are highly sensitive to economic growth. The longest expansion on record is just under 10 years. The Great Recession ended in June 2009. This means a conservative assumption would incorporate two recessions into the planning horizon.

The financial plan has included none.

Over 40 percent of sales tax revenues will pay off Bond Interest.
There is no plan for two likely recessions.

EVERY MINUTE 146 women become pregnant who did not plan or wish it News, Meetings, Announcements

Finally Hwy101 Expansion Costs are available. It is expected that the freeway lane's cost to be not more than $15 mil. / mile (excluding Novato-Petaluma narrows). This equals $750 mil. for 50 miles from San Rafael to Cloverdale. But one freeway lane offers  at least 6 times more person-miles per route mile  than rail. Which is $125 mil for the freeway Vs $200 mil for the rail per the same person-miles. (One HOV(carpool) lane in places "conducts" 40,000 commuters per day with Express Bus, which would be 8 times SMART ridership).
The added flexibility of HOV lanes plus bus makes freeway expansion by far the better alternative.

Instead of a  railway from Sonoma to Marin Civic Center, another freeway lane would offer over 9 times more passenger-miles (later plans include rail to Larkspur or San Quentin), but to quote straight out of ABAG's Briefing (Pg16): "without development that is sufficiently intense to support the rail system, it will not succeed". 

A SMART commuter rail doc called "SMART FACTS" refers to 2 cities as good rail examples:- St Louis and Portland. Click here for the facts on Portland and St Louis. They also quote a study by the Texas Transportation Institute (which I cant find) but here is the damning data Texas has on rail:-

Also they say the $548 more mil cost of SMART is less than the cost of increasing Hwy101 from 4 to 6 lanes between Petaluma and Novato. This is misleading. The Novato-Petaluma narrows is currently not freeway and needs to be converted, rail or not. (It includes rebuilding the bridge down to Petaluma and 4 interchanges, $485 mil.). What we should be comparing is the cost of widening the EXISTING freeway V SMART Rail, (other than the Novato-Petaluma stretch).
  Is light rail popular elsewhere in the U.S?                     -No
Is there a cheaper way to get people out of their cars? -Yes
Will light rail improve air quality?                                 -No
How long will the increased sales tax be in place?       -Forever
Is light rail less expensive than building freeways?      -No

Here is the Mis-Information SMART rail from Sonoma  justifies itself  with: "Upon arriving at their destination stations, riders would be willing to take either shuttle buses (provided by employers) or transit, or would be willing to walk 1/2 mile to their workplaces."

"Current congested conditions on the US 101 corridor during peak hours would persist indefinitely". If they don't build another freeway lane that is. 
The railway is feasible if:-"A high concentration of jobs/major employers are within walking distance (approximately 0.5 miles) of a station; There is a high concentration of jobs/major employers for which shuttle services would be convenient (within approximately 2.5 miles); and there is severe traffic congestion affecting travel times by car."
This attempted justification of a rail system becomes null and void by the alternative of an Express Bus System plus another freeway lane at the NARROWS.  (as in Portland). There is adequate space to widen the freeway from Civic Center to Santa Rosa. (Other rail systems like ACE-San Jose were built where there was little space to widen the freeway. Metrolink-LA shares existing rail track.)
A BART Director & County Supervisor on RAIL

County unveils plan for reducing traffic

Transit Referenda and Why They Succeed or Fail 

ABAG,   Marin CountySonoma County,   City of San Rafael, SMART    MTC   
Marin Congestion Management Agency  
Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development 
all have MAJOR development plans for Marin
A lot of this planning is not based on Cost Effectively reducing Congestion.

SMART supposed Benefits

The Truth

Reduce congestion on 101. nowhere on 101 will there be any effect with a max of 1,392 peak time commuters per day MAYBE leaving their cars at home.   Currently there are 39,000 Marin worker commuters from out of county per day combined with the Novato commuters on 101 (and the 1000's of pass thru commuters per day).
Utilization of an existing resource. but still costing $548 mil (prob. more) and $10 mil/yr .
Link to multimodal alternatives (e.g., bus, bike, pedestrian). and as Sonoma & Marin is not like a metropolitan area, most will drive/bus to/from the stations
Faster commute. Greater time utilization.
Santa Rosa to San Rafael morning commute: 70-80 minutes.
The same trip by train will take no more than 55 minutes.
Not if you examine the national data on wait time + interconnect travel time. 55 mins + 20 mins aver. drive to station + wait time + 15 mins aver. from station to work.
Extra freeway lanes and busing to relieve this congestion would not exist because money to do so would have been taken away by over-expenditure on rail. Rail, which costs more than 2 freeway lanes providing  5 times MORE passenger-miles

      Many bus routes will be shortened, forcing riders to 
      transfer to light rail. 
      This will increase travel times and place particular 
      burdens on the bus dependent riders.
      The inevitable capital cost increases are likely to 
      result in VIA 'taking from the poor' through fare 
      increases and bus service reductions. 
      Similar situations have arisen in other areas, 
      in LA there is a moratorium on further rail development. 
A Feasibility Analysis of San Antonio VIA's Light Rail Plan It is estimated that light rail would remove no more than one out of every 250 cars. It would be an unprecedented waste of scarce transportation dollars for this rapidly growing transportation corridor.

Traffic congestion is getting
worse everywhere  
in urban areas with new rail systems,
and in areas without them.
The Illusion of Transit Choice (pdf) A decade in which every metropolitan area that built or expanded rail, lost transit market share, should have ended the debate
That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history. - Aldous Huxley

25 years later, Santa Clara County's VTA light rail among the nation's worst

In Sacramento the percentage of those who use light rail is only in single digits yet it represents about 50 percent of the region’s overall transportation budget. Light rail generated $6.3 million in fares in FY 1999, compared to operating costs of $17 million. Its cost $20 to $30 million a mile. For that money per mile you could buy 60 to 90 buses, clean fuel, low air pollution buses, that don’t have any infrastructure, don’t have tracks to run on, have fairly low capital and operating costs, and you can make them go wherever you want them to go. In Sacramento, “light rail is a huge expenditure” which diverts 40 to 50 percent of all available transportation funds into “a very limited system.Estimated costs for one six-mile stretch of light rail into south Sacramento are $200 million, money that’s not now available for fixing roadway problems and for more effective buses.
Los Angeles is now under federal court order to quit raising rail fares . It must put hundreds of buses back into operation, improve service, and reduce bus fares.
UTAH: UTA Rail Transit Does Not Reduce Congestion
UTA predicts that, with the tax increase, it can triple transit ridership by 2020. But it currently carries less than two-thirds of a percent of all passenger miles in the Ogden-Salt Lake region. Since auto driving is increasing even more than the tripling in transit ridership, UTA would still carry less than 1.3% of all passenger miles in the region. This is far too small a share for UTA to have any significant effect on congestion.

Rail deprives Transit-Dependent People
Providing rail transit on one route means denying bus improvements on many other routes. Indeed, rail is so expensive that passage of the sales tax increase and construction of more rail lines will probably lead to less transit service (buses), overall.

ACE makes an annual loss of  $4.3 mil. Covered by subsidies from San Joaquin, Alameda and Santa Clara counties. Metrolink-LA and the Coaster make a loss, too, and were established when no freeway alternative existed and development around stations already existed. This is a totally different situation from Marin. ABAG's requirement of Marin to CREATE development to justify rail ignores the far cheaper and easier alternative of another freeway lane.

  • The 1983 campaign in support of a one cent sales tax to fund Dallas DART, many promises were made to Dallas taxpayers. DART advertisements told Dallas taxpayers that light rail offered the best hope for reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, and revitalizing downtown Dallas. Light rail has failed on all three counts.
  • Light rail has not reduced traffic congestion. Traffic congestion has risen 35% since the light rail election, an amount 10% greater than the national average increase and greater than any other Texas city (none of which have light rail).
  • Light rail has not improved air quality in Dallas, because to do so would require reducing traffic congestion, which DART has not done.

SMART also erroneously says "births minus deaths will account for 50% of the bay Areas growth in the next 20 years". It is a well known fact that, even with increasing life expectancy, reduced births make 98% of the World's Population growth will occur in Less Developed Countries. 
And you know what? You'd better wish those Countries making up 87% of the World's population in 2050 are STILL Undeveloped cos y know how much of the world's resources they'll be using up otherwise.
population increase a straight line in all developed countries today.Immigration and babies born to immigrant mothers account for all of the state's growth

You need a fast connection to see this ABAG Marin Map