Amtrak Cascades sees record ridership for third quarter in a row

The Bellingham Business Journal

Amtrak Cascades is having a great year with total ridership in the corridor between Eugene, Ore., and Vancouver, B.C., up more than 13 percent for the first nine months compared to the same period last year.

The third quarter of 2010 set a record with 16,100 more riders than the same period in 2009, making it the highest third-quarter ridership since service began in 1994. Total ridership for the third quarter was 237,162 – a 7 percent increase compared with 2009.

“For people throughout Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, Amtrak Cascades has proven year after year to be a valuable transportation option, and the demand continues to grow,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond in a new release.

Both the first and second quarters also posted record ridership with increases of more than 22 percent and 11 percent, respectively. Ridership jumped to the highest levels in 16 years during eight of the nine months so far this year. All but August were record-breaking months.

The second train to Vancouver, B.C., which began in August 2009 and will continue through at least October 2011, was a major factor in the growing popularity of Amtrak Cascades. More than 68,000 riders traveled on the second train between Vancouver and Portland in the third quarter.

Hammond said the growth in ridership confirms the need to continue improving the service and reliability of high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest. She said the next step in the long-term plan comes with Washington’s award this year of $590 million in  high-speed rail funds. The money will be used to improve rail corridor infrastructure, add additional Amtrak Cascades service and reduce rail-line congestion.

WSDOT applied for an additional $80 million in high-speed rail grants in August.

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