PETALUMA, Calif. — The Press Democrat is reporting that the much anticipated 43-mile SMART commuter rail system, which was set to launch no later than this December, is now looking at a start date some time in 2017.

Officials have expressed confidence for more than a year that passenger service from north Santa Rosa to downtown San Rafael will start no later than December 2016, but that timeline appears to not be realistic as testing of the system continues.

The rail agency announced Sept. 26 that it was only then beginning to ramp up speeds on the railcars during safety testing. But with 11 weeks left before the new year, officials have not pegged when the cars will be tested at their fullest capabilities. The 80-ton Diesel Multiple Units run in pairs and are set to reach top speeds of 79 mph outside cities. For the full story, click here.

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