On Oregon Public Broadcasting this morning Tom Banse reported about the long-awaited second daily train between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., which begins service today.
Tom Banse: …(It) makes its inaugural run Wednesday evening, starting from Portland. The president of the Clipper Vacations company, Darrell Bryan, books many customers on the route. He plans to board the run in Seattle. Bryan says the additional train to British Columbia will give travelers more flexibility.
Darrell Bryan: “It’s a much needed service. As you know, the congestion on I-5 is terrible; the issues at the border with long waits. With this, (comes) the ease and convenience of crossing the border and clearing once you arrive in Vancouver.”
Tom Banse: Amtrak was ready to start the second cross-border train a year ago. The service expansion was held up until the Canadian government relented on a demand for an expensive border-crossing inspection fee. The Canadians have waived the fee until after the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The cross-border Amtrak service will be reevaluated by both countries after that.
The service expansion also means that Portland will now for the first time enjoy same day Amtrak service to Vancouver, B.C., as The Oregonian reports. Our Cascadia Center – particularly our Director Bruce Agnew – and corridor allies have championed expanded Northwest corridor passenger rail travel, including the second daily train to Vancouver. Northwest passenger rail expansion garnered the spotlight from Vancouver B.C., to Portland during Cascadia Rail Week, in May. Cascadia Center is organizing a delegation of train supporters to take Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver, B.C. this evening. Other participants include representatives of Amtrak, WSDOT and tourism representatives from Washington state and the province of British Columbia. The inaugural ride will depart Seattle’s King Street Station on the Amtrak Cascades #516 at 6:50pm. This train departs Everett at 7:42 pm, Bellingham at 8:45 and arrives in Vancouver, BC at 10:45 pm.
Tomorrow, August 20, Cascadia and The Pacific Northwest Economic Region will convene a special meeting of regional business, political and non-profit leaders in Vancouver to discuss policy and marketing issues related to the expanded Seattle-Vancouver passenger rail service. The meeting will focus on marketing of the new train service, border and rail policy, and a special event with the Honourable (Federal) Minister of Public Safety, Peter van Loan. His ministry’s duties include Canada-U.S. cross border security. This meeting will be held at the Vancouver Convention Center from 10AM to 2:30PM.
UPDATE – 8/21/09: Libby Tucker of The Columbian reports Washington State transportation officials will keep a close eye on ridership, and that to offset operating costs and keep the second daily train running they will need to see an average of 100 daily passengers on each leg of the trip.