VIDEO: 7 things to know before catching a ride on SMART train

The wait is over for North Bay commuters.

After two years of delays, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit, or SMART train, begins passenger service on Friday.

7 things to know before you catch a ride:

1. Route
The train covers 43 miles, from the Sonoma to San Rafael. Click here for a list of all 10 stations.

2. Does it save time?
That depends on when you ride the train.

It takes 67 minutes to ride the entire length of the train route. To compare, if you leave from Sonoma County Airport on a weekday at 7 a.m., Google Maps estimates it would take between 55 and 90 minutes to get to San Rafael, depending on traffic conditions. (The trip takes even longer by bus. Google Maps estimates 2 hours and 33 minutes.)

3. Fares
Pricing is divided by zones. Traveling between a zone, like Rohnert Park to Petaluma, costs $3.50 for an adult one-way fare.

Prices increase up to $11.50 to travel the entire 43 miles, or five zones, of SMART rail service. Seniors and youth (5-18) pay a discounted fare. Children under 5 ride free.

There are only two kinds of payments accepted onboard: Clipper card and the SMART eTICKETS App. You cannot pay with cash or credit card once you are on the train.

Fare machines at each station dispense Clipper cards, which can be loaded using cash or credit. SMART also offers a discounted Eco Pass to employers, colleges or institutions to offer to employees or students.

4. Amenities
Yes, the trains are internet friendly. There is a public Wi-Fi network and you don't have to worry about draining your phone or tablet's battery. Each pod of seats has electrical outlets to charge devices.

5. Carry-ons
Bicycles are allowed on SMART trains. Each two-car train can carry up to 24 bicycles and stations have bike lockers.

Pets are allowed on the train but only under certain conditions. Small pets can be taken onboard if they are inside an animal carrier. The carriers are not allowed on the seats. Service animals are allowed on the train, but they must be clearly identified.

6. Food
Passengers are allowed to eat and drink on SMART trains. Passengers are not allowed to carry open containers of alcohol, so if you go to wine country, make sure your bottles of wine are still sealed.

But SMART trains have concessionaires onboard that sell wine and beer. The concessions are operated by Becoming Independent, a non-profit that helps people with developmental disabilities. Sale proceeds go directly to their programs.

7. The Future
SMART is already looking to expand. A Larkspur station is coming in 2019. Until that is built, passengers will need to ride a Golden Gate Transit shuttle from the San Rafael station to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. Future stations will be on the northern segment of the system. They include Windsor, Healdsburg and Cloverdale.

Written and produced by Juan Carlos Guerrero
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