Northwestern Pacific Railroad Network

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So I don't know if you guys have heard,

but Marin residents, and a few local politicians, are pushing to get a study done for the start of a new light rail/trolly network that would once again connect all of Marin together. The line will first run down busy congested areas of Larkspur, San Rafael  ect, and will use streetcars made to look and feel like those of the 20's and 30's, but will run on high-charge lithium batteries instead of overhead wires. Now they say it will improve apon much of the NWP interurban network of the 20's and 30's, and may even run adjacent to some of the old ROW. Much of the push for it comes from Marin locals who work in county, and want SMART but it wont be viable for them to take it one town over.

I was wondering what you guys have heard, or even think about this idea. I'd be all for it, but i'd also be the first one to try and get a train up Mt. Tam again.


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Comment by David Edmondson on December 9, 2012 at 8:46pm

Unfortunately, this proposal isn't for a light rail system, it's for a mixed-traffic trolley.

Comment by Chad Gustafson on December 9, 2012 at 12:05pm

I was wondering that while reading the article, it seemed like all Marin wanted to do was push back rail, and now they're ready to move ahead with a full on light rail network. Weird. 

Comment by Bob Cleek on December 7, 2012 at 3:17pm

I'm not opposed to the idea at all, but I've got to laugh at the irony of it all.  After all their ballyhoo about "the train to nowhere," the eco-whackos are now clamoring for "the train all over nowhere."

Comment by Lawrence LaBranche on December 7, 2012 at 7:21am

Ridership is higher for rail than buses. People like the idea the rail cannot be moved away easily. Rail cars last much longer than buses. Rail will always be more efficient than buses.

Comment by David Edmondson on December 6, 2012 at 10:32pm

I'm not so keen on it. The density isn't there for much more transit ridership than what they currently have on the first corridor, Fairfax-San Rafael. I mean, the 23 bus doesn't even run all the way all the time! It doesn't run often, it's not full... why would a trolley be much different? Even if it double ridership, that probably only makes it viable for 30-minute headways most times of the day. Whoo.

This is especially important with the extremely high costs of such a system. Using similar projects elsewhere as an analogue, the first corridor could cost anywhere from $50 million to $220 million, and I'd wager it's somewhere in the upper part of that range just given the cost of the rolling stock.

For that much money, you could run SMART at 15 minute headways; finish the line to Larkspur; you could add Class I bike lanes all through the county; run the 23 at desired headways for YEARS...

Unless San Anselmo, San Rafael and Fairfax get serious about land-use reform that would start to recoup such an investment, I really don't see how a mixed-traffic streetcar would do anything to improve transit in Marin. Spend the money on something more than rails in the ground, as nice as that would be.

Comment by Lawrence LaBranche on December 1, 2012 at 6:12pm

I have heard of it, and I hope they get it running. The website is check out their presentation for a map.

Comment by Jordan on November 30, 2012 at 10:00pm

I, too, have heard of this. Looking at satellite imagery, much of the old ROW still exists and I'd say it wouldn't be too difficult to lay down some rail (not holding my breath, this IS Marin after all). Battery technology has come a long way in the past few years and would work very well in a short distance situation such as this. Hope to see this come to fruition.

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