December 19, 2019

Cascades Service Improvements

The need for fast, frequent, and reliable passenger rail service in Washington has never been more urgent. All Aboard Washington’s (AAWA’s) goal is to make passenger rail service safer, more comfortable, more reliable, faster, and more frequent. As a consumer-oriented passenger rail advocacy group, AAWA supports continued investment in the Amtrak Cascades service because travelers across the Pacific Northwest want it. Many improvements must be made to realize the full benefits of our investment in the service.

Time Competitive Service

As key factors in any transit system’s usefulness for spontaneous trips, frequency and travel time between intermediate stations are metrics that must be taken seriously by our elected officials. Additional daily Cascades trains with reduced travel times between Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, and Eugene are all recommended in the state rail plans of Washington and Oregon. AAWA supports funding the infrastructure, equipment, and frequency upgrades needed to make Cascades service time-competitive with other modes.

Customer Amenities

Travelers in the 21st century have higher service expectations than ever, and every part of the Cascades experience must adapt to meet these new standards. Every station, small and large, has unique needs and should feature a useful combination of ADA-compliant facilities and platforms, train status boards, internet access, onsite ticketing, restrooms, refreshments, staff or volunteers, and waiting areas suitable for long-distance, business class, and connecting passengers. The easier it is for passengers to arrive when they wish, purchase a ticket with ease, and have an enjoyable waiting, boarding, and disembarking experience, the greater the return on our investment in passenger rail service.

New Service

The Cascades has countless opportunities to serve places that deserve better public transportation options. Some are as simple as adding new stations in current trackside communities like Blaine. Others involve restarting service in regions that haven’t seen it in decades, like Yakima, Walla Walla, and Pullman.

The traveling public deserves a convenient, environmentally-friendly service that is safer than automotive travel and more accessible than air travel. As taxpayers and consumers, we feel that our tax dollars are best spent building fast, reliable and frequent passenger rail services to serve our transportation needs.