Road congestion takes a heavy toll on us all, from time lost to increased costs for goods and services. Regions must continue working to develop seamless inter-modal networks of bus and rail service, marine transit where practical, and managed vehicle lanes, while boosting incentives for tele-work, ride-sharing and para-transit.
Continuing population growth and traffic congestion in major metropolitan regions such as Central Puget Sound heighten the need to update surface transportation systems. A carefully calibrated mix of roadway and transit projects – along with increased tele-work, ride-sharing and para-transit – are necessary to reduce congestion, improve safety, and protect the environment.
Our focus is not only on Central Puget Sound, but also the Cascadia Corridor of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon; and the West Coast Corridor, extending from British Columbia all the way south to metro San Diego. One vital component of an improved West Coast transportation network is improved inter-city passenger rail and a more robust freight rail infrastructure.
The Cascadia Center—in partnership with public and private rail groups—has successfully advocated for improvements to our freight and passenger rail system. As a result, the region has witnessed significant progress, including the addition of a second daily Amtrak train to Vancouver, B.C. Another result has been the preservation of the 42-mile BNSF rail corridor in public ownership. The 2010 Connecting Cascadia rail workshop demonstrated that two-thirds of all global economic activity occurs in mega-regions like Cascadia. The rail system holds enormous potential for reducing congestion and facilitating commerce. Faster and more frequent passenger trains and greater freight rail capacity could help the region compete in the global economy.