Yesterday I rode SMART (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit) for the first time and I am totally sold on it. I might even go back to work (just kidding) merely for the pleasure of riding this train.
If you are a regular commuter (or if you use any form of mass transit in the Bay Area), acquiring a Clipper card is a must. With this pass, you will never have to search for coins, bills or credit cards. You just swipe this magic wand in front of a small screen and you are validated. You do this at the departing station and again at the arriving station. This is by far the easiest way of paying for your fare.
So again, yesterday we departed from the Novato Hamilton station at 10:11 am and were in downtown Santa Rosa at 10:54 am. The 43 minutes ride was very smooth and there was absolutely no comparison with the noisy trains of yesteryear. The wagons appeared to ride on rubber tires and there was very little shaking.
At this time of the day, the train was not crowded and we easily found some seats. We indulged in some coffee while watching the scenery going by. You can also use your phone thanks to an excellent Wi-Fi network.
For the time being, this train goes from downtown San Rafael to the Sonoma County Airport. Later on, it will extend to the Larkspur Ferry and all the way to Cloverdale. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if I had to commute daily to San Francisco (especially when the Larkspur station will be open) I would ride the SMART train. I guaranty that this mode of locomotion will significantly lower your blood pressure.
In Santa Rosa, after some “lèche-vitrines” (window shopping) we stopped at the Omelette Express café for sustenance. It was crowded but we easily found a table. The portions were copious and the waitresses appetizing.
Santa Rosa reminds you everywhere that it was the home of Charles Schultz, the creator of Peanuts. There are statues and pictures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and the whole gang everywhere. We wanted to visit the Charles Schultz museum, but it was too far from the train station. We discovered too late that Santa Rosa offers a complimentary shuttle (ParkSMART) from the SMART station to the Old Courthouse Square.
The ride back was equally smooth and we were back in Hamilton at 1:44 pm.
SMART, a truly smart way to commute!
To look at photos of this event, click on the “My Photos” link located on the right side of this page. For best viewing, go Full Screen.