Matt Brown, PETALUMA ARGUS-COURIER
Sonoma County transportation planners are looking to solve a major dilemma that has potentially suppressed SMART ridership in the rail system’s first year: How do you get riders from the station to their final destination?
For the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, the solution may be a new bikeshare program. The agency received an $800,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to launch a one-year bikeshare pilot.
“There is a lot of interest in how people get to and from trains, and whether station parking is adequate,” said Dana Turrey, a planner with the transportation authority.
The agency is accepting proposals through March and will evaluate them in the spring. The format of the program will depend on the winning bid, but models in other cities include dock-based bikes, which are rented and returned to a fixed dock, and others that can be locked to any location and found using GPS.
The program will initially focus around SMART stations in Sonoma and Marin counties, Turrey said. In Petaluma, that would mean a passenger arriving at the downtown SMART station could pick up a public bike and ride it the last mile to a restaurant or concert in downtown. Other bikes could be stationed at the Petaluma Community Center for riders on the east side, according to the proposal, which calls for about 300 bikes overall.