Source: Amtrak Cascades
What began as a short term pilot project to increase daily Amtrak service between Seattle and Vancouver through the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic games, has been extended for almost another six months. If it goes through September, as now scheduled, regional transportation leaders will have just over one year of ridership and other numbers to analyze for the service. The inaugural second train first ran on August 19, 2009.
Cascadia Center of Discovery Institute has long led and supported the effort to increase passenger service not only between the two major Northwest cities, but along the entire Cascadia Corridor. Though it wasn’t the entire focus of the agenda, last May, as part of its Cascadia Rail Week, Cascadia raised considerable awareness about the issue of making sure a second train was a part of the service mix as a pilot project through the Olympics.
The pilot project was held up almost indefinitely when the Canadian government’s Border Services Agency wouldn’t drop a $1,500 per day fee it said was required for the increased immigration and customs inspections for a second train. It eventually dropped the requirement for the pilot project. (Cascadia Center and others led an effort urging the waiver of the fee.)
Whether or not this fee will remain an obstacle for a more permanent, increased service beyond September is unclear at this point. Given the need for better, more efficient, and increased connections in the Cascadia Corridor for economic and other reasons, we certainly hope not.