Monday, December 10, 2012

SMART seeks more train cars, irking bicyclists

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SMART seeks more train cars, irking bicyclists Sumitomo/Nippon Sharyo

Twelve diesel multiple-unit (DMU) cars have already been ordered by California's Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), but a move to add one more set has angered some allies of the rail project.

SMART officials seek to tap $6.6 million in federal funding to add a two-car set to its current order, being built by Nippon Sharyo, bringing SMART's total to 14 cars. But the funds would come from money targeted for pedestrian and bicycle paths.

Bicycle advocates say it would take away about two-thirds of their federal funding, setting back plans to build new paths another five years. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, which supports the SMART rail project, opposes the latest move.

"It would mean that most jurisdictions would have to put off implementing most of their bike-pedestrian plans for five years, at least," said Sandra Lupien, the coalition's outreach director, to local media.

SMART has ordered its DMUs from Nippon Sharyo USA, which is building them at its new Rochelle, Ill., plant. The first DMU trainset is scheduled to be delivered to SMART next October. The cars are similar to those ordered by Greater Toronto Area agency Metrolinx for use on its Airport line linking Toronto’s Union Station with Lester B. Pearson International Airport.

Work began last February on the $103 million initial operating segment of 38.5 miles on the SMART line, linking Santa Rosa and San Raphael, Calif., north of San Francisco. Service is scheduled to begin in 2016.