Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Second Vancouver-Seattle Amtrak train draws riders

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Amtrak's second daily round trip launched last summer between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, has attracted enough passengers to bolster its chances of continuation following the Winter Olympics, which Vancouver will host next month.

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The second frequency, supported in part by the state of Washington, has averaged 67 riders per train, above the 60 per train anticipated by the Washington Department of Transportation.

WashDOT will decide whether or not to continue the service based not only on post-Olympics ridership, but also depending on whether it and Canada’s Border Services Agency can agree on how to cover the costs of passenger clearance at the U.S.-Canada border. At present, Canada has agreed not to seek coverage of the cost, which it says amounts to $1,500 per day.

Washington State maintains that highway users and air travelers aren’t expected to cover such costs, and making Amtrak passengers do so reflects a modal bias.