OLYMPIA – With chronic mudslides and disruptions in the rearview mirror, Amtrak Cascades rebounded in the second quarter of 2011, surpassing both monthly and quarterly ridership records reached in 2010. With the busy summer travel season under way, and gas prices at a premium, more travelers are choosing Amtrak Cascades for their trips between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Ore.
After an unusually rough start in the first three months of this year, ridership for April, May and June between Vancouver and Eugene soared to 231,194 passengers – the highest second-quarter totals since the service started in 1994. Second-quarter ridership numbers increased 8 percent, compared with the second quarter of 2010, with 16,550 new passengers. June had the highest ridership increase of the three months with 78,839 passengers, up 10 percent over the previous June.
“Demand is high for a convenient, affordable and car-free transportation option, and Amtrak Cascades fits the bill,” said Paula Hammond, secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
Ridership on Amtrak Cascades declined 10 percent in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The unusually high number of mudslides that cancelled many trains contributed significantly to the decrease, as well as the absence of the tourism created last year by the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, B.C.
More frequent and reliable Amtrak Cascades service between Portland and Vancouver, B.C., is on its way as WSDOT is investing $781 million in federal high-speed rail funding awarded in the past two years. The majority of the funding will be used to improve service between Seattle and Portland, where more than 70 percent of the ridership occurs, allowing WSDOT to offer additional round trips and better on-time performance.
In 2010, Amtrak Cascades ridership rose to a 16-year high of 838,251 passengers and exceeded 2009 totals by 76,641 – a 10 percent increase. The final ridership totals capped a record-breaking year in which eight of the 12 months set new benchmarks.
Amtrak Cascades operates three daily round trips between Portland and Seattle; one daily round trip between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., and one between Portland and Vancouver, B.C.; and two daily round trips between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland. Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak in partnership with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. For Amtrak Cascades fares and schedules, visit AmtrakCascades.com.