774,421 trips were taken on Cascades in 2008, up more than 14% last year compared to 2007, and 2007 itself was a record year . This is by far the biggest year-over-year increase for Cascades, and is all the more remarkable when considering that no new runs were added last year.
The second graph shows the quarterly data for 2008, and you can see that the third quarter was when ridership was up the most over 2007. This seems to correspond to the rise-up in gasoline prices, but the return to levels similar to 2007 in the fourth quarter may not be explanable solely by the late year slide in gas prices. In December, we had snowpacolypse, and there was another snow day in November, both storms shut down service for some period. In a way, it’s impressive that ridership was up at all in Q4, when you consider that service was out for nearly two weeks.
Apparently in an attempt to boost ridership further, WSDOT – which funds most Cascades service – is applying for some of the Amtrak money that Congress approved last summer. You can see the list of projects here . If you look at the projects in the list, most of the money would go toward adding third main lines in typically congested places along the route, in an attempt to ease competition between freight and Amtrak. Noticeably absent from the list is the Pt. Defiance bypass.
Here are the WSDOT reports the two graphs came from: