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SMART settles on more classic station design

After taking heat for proposing commuter rail platforms that many said were sparse and out of place in the North Bay, SMART has selected an alternative design that more evokes a classic rail station.

The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit board Wednesday voted to approve the updated platform design, and it also set the way that the transit agency eventually will collect fares from riders when service begins in late 2016.

The new stations, painted in glossy black, will include a traditional shelter with a peaked roof and a wide bench. They also will have Victorian-style light poles, signs and garbage cans.

Board members Wednesday overwhelmingly said the new design was much better than the original proposal SMART staff put forward in August. That minimalistic design included a Y-shaped shelter roof, which would funnel rainwater into the center of the structure, and modern-looking lamps.

“This much better reflects the cultural ethos of our counties,” said Stephanie Moulton-Peters, a Mill Valley councilwoman. “I think this is a much better fit.”

City councils along the line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael objected to the original design last fall, and SMART staff took the feedback to its contractor. Officials on the Sonoma County Transportation Authority pushed for the updated shelter design, known as a standing seam hip roof.

Cities that have a train stop now have the option to adopt the new design or stick with the original proposal. Cities also can weigh in with a preferred color scheme.

The upgraded shelters will cost about $10,000 more per stop, which SMART will pay, said Bill Gamlen, the chief engineer.

“It’s a little bit more of an incremental cost,” he said.

SMART also is adding additional shelters in Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Petaluma and San Rafael - the cities expected to have the heaviest ridership.

All platforms will be built with foundations that can accommodate an additional shelter if needed in the future, Gamlen said. The total cost to SMART, including the four additional shelters, is $560,000 he said.

The board Wednesday also approved using a zone fare structure, which officials said was more in line with other regional transit agencies. The initial rail line will be divided into five zones, and the cost of a ticket will depend on the number of zones a rider traverses. The other option would be a flat fare, similar to that charged by Santa Rosa City Bus, where riders pay the same price no matter how far they travel.

“If we adopted a flat fare, it would be perceived that the shorter-distance riders would be subsidizing the longer-distance riders,” said Joanne Parker, SMART’s funding manager.

When the line eventually is extended to Cloverdale, a segment that remains unfunded, the agency will have seven fare zones, she said. The agency will set the actual fares closer to the start of service.

Fares will be collected using the Clipper Card system, which is widely used in most transit agencies throughout the Bay Area including BART, Caltrain and Golden Gate Transit. Riders purchase a card for $3 and add credit, which can be applied to any participating transit route.

You can reach Staff Writer Matt Brown at 521-5206 or matt.brown@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter ?@MattBrownPD.

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