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Marin's SMART Train System Opens Novato, Larkspur Stations

NOVATO (CBS SF) -- have been a lot of starts and stops. There has been a lot of back and forth, but Saturday was a big step forward for the SMART train in two locations, one of them in Novato.

"Saw it this morning, ran down here and thought, 'let's take the SMART,'" said Kevin Uriu as he and his son stepped off the SMART train at one of its two new stops.

As of Saturday, you can catch SMART in Downtown Novato, on the weekends. But the bigger addition was at the southern end of the SMART line.

"When they first opened it, and it only went down to Central San Rafael, I'm going 'I can't wait till it gets all the way down to the ferry,'" Uriu said of SMART's original operating system. "I work down in the city, and this is awesome."

"This is the first day, and we made a special trip out a this from Santa Rosa," said Dino Bonos who made the inaugural trip to SMART's southern terminus.

The train has finally landed in Larkspur, where local businesses were waiting for holiday shoppers. "Ride SMART to the mart," read one sign.

A real measurement of commuter appetite for the train ride, and the seven to ten minute walk to the ferry building will come on weekdays. That link, heralded as a regional connection and long awaited alternative to 101.

"The stress and the traffic problems problems on this highway, which have been historically horrible," Bonos says of Highway 101.

Judging by the full trains we saw, plenty of people were interested in getting out of the car, in more ways than one.

"I crossed the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and went over the Point Molate," said one cyclist. "First day, I wanted to make sure I did it all."

SMART is currently running on a temporary schedule. A new schedule will be constructed around the ferry connection times. That expanded service will be rolled out on January 1st.

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