|Riding the Train: Friends of SMART Grand Tour
by Gary Albright
On a Monday in August twenty guests, with Friends of SMART volunteers Lionel Gambel, Ron Sundergill and Gary Albright as guides, took a Grand Tour of Bay Area Rail and Ferry Services.
The day began at Larkspur with a half-hour ferry-ride across the Bay to the San Francisco financial district. The morning was cloudy and cold, keeping most people below decks, where coffee and other hot beverages could be purchased. From the newly restored Ferry Building in San Francisco we then rode the light rail N-Judah line, which passes SBC Ball Park on its way to the Caltrain station where we visited one of the new “Baby Bullet” trains that serve the peninsula.
Returning to the Ferry Building, we took the Blue and Gold ferry to Oakland for a leisurely lunch at Scott’s Seafood Restaurant. AMTRAK then carried us south and across the salt flats, giving passengers views that can only be seen from a train. Arriving at the Great America station near San Jose, we took the Altamont Commuter Express (ACE) train through the wooded rolling hills and tunnels of the Altamont Pass to Pleasenton.
A bus took us to the Dublin BART station where rush hour commuters were coming and going. We didn’t have long to wait for a San Francisco bound train that whisked us past the autos crawling along both sides of the track. Arriving at the BART/MUNI station in San Francisco, we retraced our morning route, taking the Golden Gate Ferry back to the Larkspur terminal.
Tour participant Beth Martinez said she didn’t know there were so many transit options available and she was impressed with the renovations of the San Francisco Ferry Building with its inviting produce market and boutiques. The rail trip showed such a different side of the otherwise familiar Bay Area, that “it was almost like visiting a foreign county.” The participants had a positive experience on the tour and said they would consider going again.
Gary Albright is a former student summer intern for Friends of SMART