Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Now that's SMART.

In addition to the overwhelming victory of the Democrats in the House elections tonight, a more local victory was won. I live in Marin County, CA: one of the most desirable places to live on the planet. Yet the public transportation we have here is next to none. Want to go to San Francisco? Hop on a Ferry (which, while decadently enjoyable, is completely focused on commuters only and is expensive) or grab a bus (if you are lucky to find one that runs the time you want...and it's a bus). Yet our neighbors in the East Bay have one of the most luxurious train systems in the world, BART. Peninsula? Hop on the Baby Bullet Train on CalTrain, or drive up to the airport for BART. Marin? Sad. And Sonoma county? NOTHING.

Not after tonight. The SMART train, from Northern Sonoma to Larkspur (where the aforementioned ferry leaves from) passed this evening. In typical Marin style, Larkspur is fighting the last, most key station in the plan. With such a resounding victory tonight, I hope Larkspur realizes their insular attitude towards Sonoma has to come to an end, and embraces rail transportation as the solution it is.

The rails are there: the train line stopped running in the 1960's. It just takes some refurbishing, and a new station in Larkspur to make this a success. In my old state of Massachusetts, the Old Colony line was similarly refurbished in the late 1990's, bringing South Shore commuters into Boston in comfort and low cost. Result? Housing and economic development boomed in the previously depressed markets that bordered Cape Cod, and allowed people like my best friend Charles to build a fantastic home for his family in an area that would never have been available to develop.

In 10 years, when Cloverdale becomes the hottest new market for housing and economic development, and the previously failed retail environment of Larkspur Landing becomes the fastest growing shopping destination in Marin (see the Ferry Building in San Francisco for an example of what happens with good public transportation and retail), we'll be talking about expanding SMART to connect to Richmond or Vallejo, and everyone will forget it almost got derailed by shortsighted Marinites, who need to realize the world needs to come through Marin...and we need the world.

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