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SMART extends free rides, including on Veterans Day and Thanksgiving weekend

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SMART is continuing through Friday the free rides it launched for Sonoma and Marin riders last week amid the widespread PG&E power shut-offs and the Kincade fire.

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit board offered its support for the plan Wednesday, while approving free rides for military veterans and all active-duty military with identification, plus their families, on Veterans Day. The commuter rail agency also will provide free service on Thanksgiving through Dec. 1 as a makeup for pulling free rides the upcoming weekend before Veterans Day.

The decision was made because of planned overnight testing between Petaluma and the Novato Hamilton station to prepare for the opening of the new downtown Novato station, scheduled to begin service by the end of the year. The weekend schedule will be expanded for north and southbound trains, with the addition of a bus bridge between the two stations Saturday and Sunday. If needed, the same schedule will go into effect for testing Nov. 15 to Nov. 18.

SMART has yet to announce an opening day for the downtown Novato station or the southern extension to Larkspur. Agency officials said they expect to pinpoint the date later this month, along with releasing an expanded weekday and weekend train schedule.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin Fixler at 707-521-5336 or kevin.fixler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @kfixler.

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