The second Amtrak Cascades service to Vancouver, B.C., which could have ended in October if the Canadian government had decided to implement a previously proposed $1,500 inspection fee, received a reprieve when Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced after a meeting with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, his decision to permanently waive the proposed fee.
Cascadia had worked closely with the Washington Department of Transportation, Amtrak, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) and All Aboard Washington in pointing to the strong ridership and great economic impact to B.C. from both trains. In July, at the PNWER Summit in Portland, we collectively pressed the case with Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer. Canadian Consulate General Denis Stevens also deserves great credit for focusing Ottawa on the regional impact of the train.
Now the region can continue to press for “pre-clearance” of southbound passengers at the Pacific Central Station (to eliminate the 15-minute delay from the current double inspection at the station and at Blaine). We are counting on the new Beyond the Border Accord between Prime Minister Harper and President Obama for this reform.