Was the SMART Train a Good Idea for the Community?

The SMART train was developed recently in the marin area transportation from Sonoma, Santa Rosa, through Rohnert Park, Petaluma and Novato, to downtown San Rafael. The train was developed to get people from point A to Point B faster and cheaper. The purpose was to reduce traffic and help the environment with less pollution.

So far the train has brought many problems to the San Rafael community. There should be more stops for the train away from the traffic reducing the likelihood of accidents. Though many many argue that the train brings many benefits, it also causes trouble within the community of San Rafael through the already busy streets.

As a student in San Rafael High School, it is difficult to navigate through fourth street without having to worry about the SMART train coming in any time. The population of downtown San Rafael brings many cars through those streets every day. It appears as if the likelihood of getting in a train accident has increased.

According to the US Department of Transportation, there are about 5,800 train-car crashes each year in the United States, most of which occur at railroad crossings. These accidents cause 600 deaths and injure about 2,300 per year.

As the students rush to school each morning through fourth street, the train causes some cluster through the already busy streets. The further construction can bring problems through the students on their way to Davidson middle school. Closing streets, causing detours and enraging drivers trying to drop their children off at school.

Crews have begun modifying a downtown San Rafael street in the first significant work to accommodate commuter trains through San Rafael and eventually to Larkspur.Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit trains are set to pass through downtown San Rafael, then the Bettini Transit Center and on to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal by next year.

“SMART” Expansion

After spending $400 million on the SMART train, was it really worth it?

Although it can be said that the SMART train is beneficial to the environment through saving resources and reducing the use of automobiles, it is not overall worth it for the community.

Jessica Jordan, a third-year student at Sonoma State, said she likes the idea of using SMART for discounted travel. As many students have stated, “I think it would be beneficial for students and the company. It would allow students to be more mobile between neighboring cities,” said Jordan.

Although it is beneficial to some students, to the large community in San Rafael it might not be as beneficial.

Those teachers who come from Petaluma may find it convenient to cut traffic and not need to struggle with the parking situation in school lifting some stress of their shoulder its not the same for all.

For the people who live in the area it may be harder for them to get around taking in consideration that the lay out on fourth street can cause accidents. I myself have been extremely close to suffering what could be a detrimental accident do to the SMART train.

In the afternoons after going to a long and tiring practice, driving through fourth street to get home almost cost me my life. The clustered traffic was slowly moving, the car in front stopped because there was a person crossing with their bike. As they stopped we were trapped between that car in front and the car behind avoiding the tracks, leaving our car stuck half way in the tracks with no other place to go. Thankfully the people moved on as soon as the biker was out of their way allowing us to move forward before anything catastrophic happened.

Trains are safer than cars, experts say. Amtrak collisions and passenger deaths are rare — despite high-profile crashes in the last year, according to industry statistics and experts. Trains remain safer for passengers than cars or buses, and nearly as safe as airliners, federal statistics show.

Are they only safe for the passengers on the train? What about the people bustling in the nearby streets?

The train has been running for about six months and there are about some problems within the community. There have been three reported deaths in cause by the SMART train. Two of which has been reported as a suicide, and one reported as an accident. There was a man hit by the SMART train in his truck but was taken to the Santa Rosa memorial hospital.

Based on the 313.9 million people that live in the U.S., the likelihood of dying from a railroad accident is 1 in 431,800. But, those odds relate to any sort of accident involving a railroad, including collisions at railway crossings and pedestrian accidents.

In order to have a well developed and sustainable community the SMART train should come in above the community. Allowing the common flow of traffic rather than creating more cluster. Or simply just station some where away from the busy streets in downtown San Rafael, following the example of the already existing train BART.

Could this be a solution?



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