SEATTLE – In an effort to promote cross border travel and a long standing partnership, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell joined together to celebrate the start of the long awaited second Amtrak Cascades train service to Vancouver, B.C.
Gov. Gregoire and Premier Campbell joined Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, Amtrak officials, state and local officials at a media event today at King Street Station in Seattle.
With the addition of this second train service, travelers will now have direct round-trip service between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C. The Canadian government approved the second train service on July 3 as a pilot project to run between August 1 through the end of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games. WSDOT worked with Amtrak, BNSF Railway, U.S. Customs, and other stakeholders to get the additional Amtrak Cascades service operational on August 19, 2009.
“We are extremely pleased to expand this Amtrak Cascades service and to continue our long-term partnership with the British Columbia provincial government,” said Gov. Gregoire. “This second train service will be a tremendous asset in bringing travelers to the 2010 Winter Games, enriching tourism and economic vitality in the communities along the way in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.”
Since the second Amtrak Cascades train service began on August 19, ridership is averaging 60 riders per day and growing. With the steady growth of ridership on this second train service, the pilot program is on track to meet the benchmark requirement to continue beyond the 2010 Olympic Games. Additionally, the original train between Seattle and Vancouver has seen an increase in ridership as well which suggests travelers are taking advantage of the additional frequency when planning their trips.
“We are continuing to invest in growing our passenger rail program, said Paula Hammond, Washington Transportation Secretary. “This expanded service provides a viable travel option to the 2010 Olympics and also addresses the increased demand for those traveling to British Columbia aboard this already highly successful Amtrak route.”
The Governor and Premier concluded the media conference by thanking all those who helped make the second Amtrak Cascades train service to Vancouver, B.C. happen, and announced that the State of Washington and Amtrak together are offering a 25 percent discount on all fares to and from Vancouver, B.C. until December 31, 2009. This means that fares from Everett to Vancouver, B.C. will be as low as $17 one way. After the media conference, the two leaders exchanged symbolic Seattle-to-Vancouver, B.C. train tickets on the platform, next to an Amtrak Cascades train.
“Amtrak is pleased to provide additional service to take people to the Winter Games and back and forth across the border for other personal, family and business reasons,” said Kurt Laird, District Superintendent of Amtrak’s Pacific Division.
During the celebration, the governor and premier concluded their fourth Washington-British Columbia annual meeting by signing an agreement furthering efforts toward transportation competitiveness and prosperity and announced the date for the Peace Arch Olympic Torch Relay.
Amtrak Cascades consists of four daily round-trips between Portland and Seattle, with service between Bellingham and Portland, via Seattle; between Eugene and Seattle, via Portland; and between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Amtrak Cascades is operated by Amtrak in partnership with the Washington and Oregon Departments of Transportation. For Amtrak Cascades fares and schedules, visit www.amtrakcascades.com.
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