Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, better known locally as the “SMART train” will be making its first stop in Petaluma sometime before the end of the year (they say). When it does, here are three factoids to keep you on the right side of the tracks.

The Cameras Will Be Real

Remember all the ballyhoo about SMART’s Bay Area big brother – BART (a.k.a, Bay Area Rapid Transit) and the revelation that 77% of their in-car surveillance cameras were either fake or not working? Well, ours will be real and will work, says SMART’s community outreach specialist Matt Stevens.

“We’re not gonna have fake cameras. We will have real cameras,” he emphasizes. Stevens, who is based in the Petaluma SMART train office on Old Redwood Highway, says there’s no need to cut corners since ours is a smaller system than BART. “We don’t have as many vehicles as BART does and we’re not serving as a broad a a commute range.”

Moreover, Stevens knows who will be “watching the watchmen” as they say, because…

The SMART Train Has a Chief of Police

Drumroll, please… SMART has its own chief of police. Chief Jennifer Welch was sworn in at a ceremony last January.

“We do have a police department of one at this point in time,” Stevens says of Welch, who is a former detective for Novato Police Department.

“She was hired as our security chief and then the state assembly actually passed a law enabling us to make her a chief of police so she can relate to other chiefs of police on a more equal basis,” explains Stevens. “We had a nice ceremony for her recently where we invited all the other chiefs of police just to say, “Here she is. She’s one of you now.”

There Will Be a Wine Car… Maybe… Someday…

Your dream of a train-borne tempranillo will have to wait. Though SMART’s planning team did include a prospective service bar in its initial vision, politics may spillover into your pinot.

“On​e car has an ADA-compliant bathroom, the other car has a Wine Country-compliant service bar,” says Stevens, who is quick to add, “Now, having said that, the SMART board of directors, has to make a policy decision as to what will be served in that service bar.”

Some board members have said they would like sell wine and beer like the Golden Gate Ferry (which, incidentally, is where the SMART train terminates in Larkspur) but there will be no uncorking in the caboose until all are onboard.

“Until the smart board makes that policy decision, I am reluctant to say that we will be serving wine and beer on the car,” says a diplomatic Stevens.

No worries – you can take your drink tickets the Napa Valley Wine Train, which is going nowhere fast.

Daedalus Howell is the author of Quantum Deadline, a darkly comic sci-fi crime novel, set in Lumaville. Also, you’ll never believe the strange goings-on at

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