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View Diary: Good news from Portland on urban transit! (115 comments)

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  •  The Cascades cost less and less and less (1+ / 0-)
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    Cartoon Peril

    The Cascades trains have been running for about 15 years. With on-going investments by the State of Washington, Amtrak, and Oregon, they have slowly been getting better and better and better.

    In recent years, four Talgo trains a day each way Portland-Seattle, plus Amtrak's Coast Starlight long distance train from L.A.. Every year ridership has increased, to over 850,000 a year now. With such good patronage, the service has been moving ever closer to break-even.

    Next year will see six Talgo tilting trains Portland-Seattle plus the Starlight. Down the Willamette Valley to Eugene it'll be four daily Talgo runs, up from two.

    (Yeah, a secret Obama accomplishment. A foul-up in failing to specify wi-fi delayed delivery of the first trains from before Election Day to early next year. Damn, damn, damn.)

    Added frequencies attract many more riders. It's the convenience of departures when you want to go, not having to wait another couple of hours for the next train, or booking another train close enuff to what you want when the best-timed one is sold out. When they increased the number of trains by 67% St Louis-Chicago, ridership went up 100%.

    Conservatively, Amtrak's Cascades ridership should break 1 million next year, and continue growing, with every added passenger reducing the operating loss.

    Not too far down the line, a couple of projects to reduce congestion and improve reliability will greatly improve their on-time performance.

    Then the Cascades route could use another billion or more in upgrades to cut the travel time. We can hope that Obama and a Democratic house will get us more infrastructure investments next year.

    And hold onto your ferries. That's a great way to travel.

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