Letters: SMART train ... for & against
- Published Saturday, October 28, 2006, by the Marin Independent Journal
Letters to the Editor
The Marin Conservation League board's position against the Sonoma
Marin Area Rail Transit train would condemn Sonoma County to
automobile-dependent sprawl to assimilate the population increase in
the next 20 years. I couldn't believe the environmental community of
Marin could be so out of touch.
Environmentalists in Sonoma County see rail transit and its stations
directing growth into our cities now protected by voter-controlled
urban growth boundaries.
What a relief to see Huey Johnson's Marin Voice (IJ, Oct. 12)
listing the "who's who" of Marin's environmental leadership who
endorse Measure R, the SMART sales tax on the ballot. And now we
know that both Sierra Clubs endorse environment-friendly SMART.
The bicycle coalitions of both counties, Greenbelt Alliance and
Sonoma County Conservation Action all are on the list.
Representing organizations with thousands of members, the
environmental movement recognizes the positive impact of having
Does the negative position of the MCL board truly represent the
members of this venerated institution?
'Not a great train of Europe'
SMART is not a great train of Europe. Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit
says its trains are safe. But the train would cross more than 100
streets, creating hazards for cars and pedestrians.
SMART says its trains are clean. But they are 1950s-style diesel
trains, which would spew diesel fumes in residential areas and near
school and parks, exposing people to particles and pollutants that
can cause cancer and other respiratory illness.
They say the trains are quiet. But the trains would sound their
horns before each of more than 100 street crossings. Starting at
5 a.m., trains would wake people from their sleep. Freight trains
could also use this route, subjecting people to noise at night.
They say the system will cost less than other systems because a
track exists. But the bridges, tunnels, crossings and tracks will
need to be rebuilt, requiring a huge investment.
There are many better ways to reduce congestion: employer incentives
to car-and vanpool, flex time, staggered work hours and telecommuting
and express service on buses with the same amenities proposed for
the train. The completion of high-occupancy vehicle lanes through
San Rafael and Sonoma will reduce bus travel times. Buses can pick
people up near their homes and drop them off near work. Routes can
be changed as land uses change. Portions of the rail right of way
could be used to bypass freeway traffic and could be used by
emergency vehicles in a disaster.
Vote "no" on the train. Let's start working to develop
transportation measures that will reduce congestion.
This commuter wants a train
As a Petaluma resident who has worked in and commuted to San Rafael
for the past 17 years, I feel experienced enough to address Sonoma
Marin Area Rain Transit.
We need the train. My husband and I promise to ride it. That
increases the arbitrary number of people expected to ride the train
from 230 to 232. (We don't recall anyone asking us for a train
poll.) We leave our home at 6:50 a.m. and we're lucky if we arrive
at our offices in Terra Linda by 8:05. I wonder how many Marin
residents south of Ignacio have sat on Highway 101 between 7 and 9
a.m. If they did for one week, they would better understand the need
for getting off the highway and onto a train.
The HOV lane has become a joke -- we ride in it for about 200 yards
before it comes to a halt and crawls along with the rest of the
"flow" -- often carpoolers are passed by single drivers in the
regular lanes. Getting Sonoma County residents out of cars and onto
the train will relieve traffic congestion. How is that not obvious
to everyone? Much of the Marin workforce -- nurses, teachers,
programmers, retailers, waiters, doctors, firefighters and police
officers -- live in Sonoma County.
A true partnership with Marin and Sonoma, rather than a division by
county line, is the answer to the increasing transportation problem.
Let's get our heads out of the sand and get started on this now. In
10 years both the price and congestion will dramatically multiply.
We need SMART. Vote "yes" on Measure R.