SMART Train crosses Haystack Bridge in Petaluma.A SMART train crosses the Petaluma River (Credit: Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit)

Ride with GPS "SMART Routes"

SMART Routes is a collection of Ride with GPS routes that take advantage of our local passenger rail system, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), to create rides that are reasonable in length but which let you explore further into Sonoma and Marin Counties. Do a ride deep into Marin County, then avoid the long ride home by jumping on the train in Larkspur. Or ride the train up to Santa Rosa, do the classic West Dry Creek / Alexander Valley ride, then hop on the train home. You get the idea.

The Routes

The SMART Route collection is available here.

SMART Basics

SMART operates regular passenger rail service between Larkspur in the south and Sonoma County Airport in the north. Everything you might want to know about SMART is available at the SMART site, but here is some basic information.

The Petaluma Downtown SMART station is at 220 Lakeville St. (A second Petaluma SMART station, at Corona Road and North McDowell Blvd., is scheduled to open in late 2024.) You can of course reach this station by riding your bike, but if you do need to park your car there, day-use parking is free.

Fares are zone-based; the highest one-way fare from Petaluma is three zones and costs $4.50. However, note that those 65 years of age and up (and also youths 18 and below) currently ride SMART for free!

The simplest way to pay for a ride on SMART is to use a Clipper card, which is the same card used by most transit services throughout Sonoma County and the Bay Area. Purchase your Clipper card at any SMART station (credit/debit card or cash). Be sure to "tag on" your card at the Clipper card reader before boarding the train, and "tag off" when departing. If you don't tag on and off, you'll be charged the maximum rate.

You can bring your bicycle (including pedal-assist ebikes) with you for free on the SMART train. There are hooks to hang you bike on at either end of the train. Bicycles are allowed "as space permits", so theoretically you could be denied boarding due to lack of space, but this is rare. Do make sure your bike is reasonably clean (not covered in mud or dripping chain lube), since it hangs in the passenger compartment and next to other bikes.

It's handy to have a SMART schedule with you. SMART has a mobile app which includes schedule information (and which can also be used for E-Tickets – an alternative to the Clipper card), but it is also quite easy to simply load the schedule into a browser window on your smart phone. Note that the weekday schedule differs from weekends/holidays – trains are much more frequent/numerous on weekdays. Also note that weekday service is much less frequent in the early afternoon. Plan carefully, or you could be stuck waiting over two hours for your ride back to Petaluma.

Petaluma Cycling Club: Cycling Safely since 1895

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