When “SMART” stupidly decided to operate under Federal FRA-compliant regulations, it created a whole bunch of unnecessary costs:
The board of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District this week unanimously agreed to spend at least $12 million on safety measures associated with establishment of “quiet zones.”
Federal regulations require that train horns blow a quarter-mile before a crossing and continue to sound until the train passes into the intersection. They must sound at a minimum of 96 decibels, which is equal to the volume of a backyard power mower.
Actually, 96 decibels is equivalent to a jackhammer from 50′ away. If they had decided to operate the line as a transit operation, then FRA rules would not apply and the $12 million quiet zones wouldn’t be necessary.
$12 million is not a trivial amount of money, especially given SMART’s budget problems. For example, $12 million is enough to buy two or three DMU trainsets.