January 25, 2022

Transportation, Environmental, Health Care and Community Coalition Releases Policy Recommendations Supporting Rail

A broad-based group of organizations have jointly published a statement of policy recommendations focusing on the importance of rail in meeting the state’s goals of improved economy, environment and equity. 

The “Washington State Rail Policy Recommendations” statement has been endorsed by All Aboard Washington, the Climate Rail Alliance, Solutionary Rail, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, Indivisible Tacoma, Indivisible Vashon, League of Women Voters of Washington, Olympia Indivisible, Irthlingz Arts-Based Environmental Education, Rail Workers United, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Sunrise Movement PDX, the Environment and Climate Caucus, Steel Interstate, Flexiwaggon America, and All Aboard Northwest. 

Improved rail transportation is a solution to both transportation equity and climate challenges. Investment in rail provides benefits such as jobs, equitable access, improved mobility, health and safety of railway workers and the public, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, reduced highway infrastructure damage and congestion.

Our Legislature needs to recognize the importance of a robust rail transportation appropriation that positions Washington to leverage grant opportunities such as offered by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act given that most federal grant opportunities require matching funds. Washington state must be proactive in developing project plans that are ready for construction when funding becomes available. 

We support Governor Inslee’s and the Legislature’s commitments to clean transportation. However, statistics show that Washington is not on track to fully achieve its climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030. Rail must be the backbone of our surface transportation network because of its energy efficiency, low carbon emissions, electrification potential, and reduction in vehicle miles traveled.

The full statement (ver. 11) is linked here

“The League of Women Voters supports a balanced state transportation policy and increases in funding to provide adequate revenue, flexibility, energy efficiency and safety in a multi-modal system of transportation,” said Cynthia Stewart of the League of Women Voters of Washington. “One of the multi-modal options is passenger rail. This has been under-utilized in Washington State but it is needed for cross-jurisdictional travel, particularly in eastern WA, and for those who cannot drive. Transit services are limited and passenger rail on existing lines could be expanded. Ultimately, it will benefit low-income, aging and disabled who cannot drive longer distances as well as reduce congestion on major highways.”

Railroad Workers United said, "We are proud to endorse these rail policy recommendations. The age of the automobile is over. It is time to rebuild the nation's railroad infrastructure to facilitate a far greater movement of both freight and passengers. Washington state has the potential to lead the nation in embarking on a new path, one that drastically reduces the number of cars and trucks on the highways and returns both goods and travellers to a much safer, more just, more energy efficient and environmentally sensitive transportation mode--rail."

Sunrise Movement PDX said, "A strong, decisive, and immediate investment in revitalizing passenger rail service in the Pacific Northwest is key to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled throughout Oregon and Washington. A frequent and speedy rail system would drive investment toward building a more connected public transit system, and walkable and bikeable trackside communities instead of more wasteful car-dependent sprawl. Sunrise PDX proudly supports this effort to levy our public funds to invest in a public transportation service that will reduce emissions instead of raising them as every single freeway expansion in history has."

“We are very pleased that leading transportation, environmental, health care and community organizations have worked together to highlight the importance of improving rail in our communities,” said Charles Hamilton, Co-Executive Director of All Aboard Washington. “We look forward to other organizations joining us in endorsing these policy recommendations.”

About All Aboard Washington

For over forty years, All Aboard Washington (AAWA) has promoted better passenger and freight rail service in the Pacific Northwest. We champion safe, reliable, frequent, competitive, and convenient passenger rail services that meet the needs of all Washingtonians. We are especially active supporters of intercity passenger rail service and intermodal connections to local transit.

Charles Hamilton

Updated May 6, 2022