ODOT Photo
ODOT Photo

After test runs over Thanksgiving weekend, Oregon’s new Talgo trains have entered regular service. They are running between Seattle and Portland this weekend, and will run between Seattle and Vancouver BC later next week (see scheduled runs here, bottom of the page).

Given the new flexibility afforded by the two new sets – each set must overnight in Seattle at least once per week, limiting the schedule somewhat – ODOT has announced a new schedule for Portland-Eugene service beginning on January 6, 2014.

A new early morning departure is being added at 6:00am from Portland to Eugene, and a 4:00pm departure from Eugene to Portland. In addition, on weekends and holidays the morning train from Portland to Eugene will depart 2.5 hours later, at 8:30am.

Currently, northbound departures all leave Eugene before 1:00p and the first train doesn’t arrive in Eugene until after 5:00pm, making day trips to anywhere south of Portland impossible and even one-night stays impractical. This will considerably improve the options for Portlanders visiting the University of Oregon, anyone with state business in Salem (including reverse commuters from Portland), and others.

ODOT has published the new schedule for Oregon service here, but the full corridor schedule has not yet been released (we have an email in to WSDOT). However, given that WSDOT is not changing service levels at this time, we can reasonably infer the following:

  • Trains 11, 14, 500, 501,  506, 507, 510, 513, 516 , and 517 will remain unchanged.
  • Train 508 will now begin in Eugene at 4:00pm and continue to Seattle, arriving at 10:05pm.
  • Train 504 is cancelled.
  • Train 503/(505 on weekends) is the new morning service from Portland to Eugene

If so, the new schedule is as follows:

Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 2.54.29 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 2.55.05 PM

While our fleet will be badly underutilized until the Point Defiance Bypass is complete – 7 trainsets for 11 daily trains! – the added flexibility is greatly appreciated and the redundancy should at least prevent some of the maintenance problems such as locomotive failures that have occurred too frequently in the past couple of years. Though we’re still many years away from a fully usable schedule in which you can arrive in Portland or Seattle in the morning, this new schedule does represent progress.

68 Replies to “Amtrak Cascades Improves Eugene Service Beginning January 6”

  1. Does anyone know why the trip north from Tacoma to Seattle is so slow? The trip south is about 45 minutes, which is just a little slower than drive time. However, the trip north is about 70 minutes.

    1. About 15 minites was “padded in” during construction work all along the route during the construction season earlier in the year, making most runs between Seattle and Portland 3:45 instead of 3:30. Hopefully when WashDOT and Amtrak announce the new timetable, that padding will be removed and we can get back to 3:30 over the road between SEA and PDX. (And maybe even 3:20??)

    2. The added time is schedule recovery time. In case the northbound train is late getting to Tacoma, it allows them to still get to Seattle within the schedule, improving their on-time performance and allowing them to get back on schedule for trains continuing north from Seattle.

      You’ll notice that there’s also schedule padding on the southbound trains between Vancouver, WA and Portland.

      1. Since many of the delays which cause northbound trains to be late getting to Tacoma are apparently caused going around Pt. Defiance, the Pt. Defiance Bypass is supposed to allow for a lot of this schedule padding to be removed.

  2. Any new train is good news, so long as they’re not carrying coal or oil. But one strong personal preference, based on two trips to San Francisco this year. Also has to do with the way I like to travel: if getting there fast was absolute priority, I’d fly ’til the bullet trains arrive.

    Best ride right now:

    Southbound, Cascades leaving Seattle at 7:30 am, express bus to Eugene for lunch and University art museum, Coast Starlight leaving just after 5 pm, morning espresso in Sacramento just after 6 am, leisurely choice of California Amtrak trains to first convenient BART stop east of the Bay. From there, anywhere in SF.

    Transit passes are for sale in cafe car on train out of Sacramento. Sounder could copy both cafe and passes.

    Northbound is harder. Coast Starlight comes through Oakland and Sacramento in the middle of the night, and having to come up from Southern California, is often late. Know Amtrak is trying, but single seat ride to Seattle is like being kicked slowly up the Coast in a can.

    So generally end up flying from Bay Area to Portland, and Talgo train home. Alaska’s turboprop planes fly low enough it’s still more like aviation than air freight, but major airline seats that don’t recline ought to cancel a plane’s airworthiness certificate. Even for two hours.
    Would be worth it to hire an open-cockpit biplane like at Boeing field- much more leg room.

    Tried once to ride Greyhound to fill the northbound gap between Sacramento and Eugene. Should have been an easy, fast, comfortable ride up I-5, leaving after supper, arriving for coffee at sunrise. Actual trip was something only Ayn Rand could have thought up as proof that forgiving bad service generates evil. CEO’s name should be Wesley Mouch.

    So I really would like to see a partnership between Washington State, Oregon, and California for at least one Talgo train per day in each direction between Sacramento and Eugene. Would be willing to pay more than non-reclining seat plane fare. And during procurement process, would settle for one clean comfortable bus with drivers not recently fired by the Department of Corrections re: passenger management.


    1. The Sacramento to Eugene stretch is pretty thinly populated, so the economics of such a run would not work. Any partnership would really be between Oregon and California.

      1. How about pulling Greyhound’s license to carry anything more sentient than, say, packing pellets, and giving permit to firm from country where they have much better long-distance service, like Turkey or Mexico.

        Or at least ordering them to scrape the flag of our country off the sides of their buses. Talk about flag-desecration added to a zombie apocalypse. Does anybody know how a company can deliver such bad service for so long and still stay in business?


      2. BTW I’d guess Bolt Bus only works when the distance is short enough that driving is competitive travel-time wise with flying. So depending if demand is there we might see BoltBus expand to Spokane.

        Greyhound is also offering something called “express” in California (among other states) in addition to BoltBus. Not sure of the details though it appears service is more point to point than the regular Greyhound service.

        Taking a quick look at Greyhound fares it seems that for anything other than relatively short-haul service you aren’t going to save much over a deeply discounted airfare (at least between major cities).

      3. Mark: Greyhound “stayed in business” by going bankrupt repeatedly and being bought out by various other companies who retained the brand name.

        A bit like the airlines really.

    2. One irony is Bolt Bus is partially owned by Greyhound. For those who haven’t been the experience on BoltBus is the exact opposite of “riding the dog”.

      1. So, Greyhound is aware that there’s pent-up demand for regional express services between the major cities, and it wanted to gain a foothold in the northwest market before anyone else did. At the same time, the west coast market is clearly not as attractive to other carriers as the northeast is because there have been no others, except one in California that failed. I assume it’s because of the lower population and longer distances here, and smaller tourist market.

        Another factor is, Greyhound probably sees the writing on the wall for its low-quality intercity service. It has been withdrawing from more and more rural routes over the past decade and turning them over to smaller companies. So it probably needs a success like more BoltBus lines in case its regular service becomes too unprofitible.

      2. I’m not sure that BoltBus is “completely the opposite” of “riding the dog” as I find their seats to be extremely uncomfortable. I’ve had to take them twice due to traffic in Seattle getting to King Street Station, so I know I would be vastly more comfortable on the train. However, they do have that 8 pm departure which is nice when you can’t make the train in time. I notice that most of their passengers are in the under 25 or so crowd, while there is a much broader mix on Amtrak.

    3. Also, it’s not just bad Greyhound staff, it’s also bad passengers. I rode Greyhound a lot between 1998 and 2005, and most of the experiences were sub-obtimal, but only about half of them were due to bad drivers or snappy ticket agents or stupid bureaucracy and penny-pinching (e.g., unwillingness to put a second bus on when there’s an overflow at a transfer point, forcing people to wait four hours for the next bus). The other half was obnoxious passengers who were loud or misbehaving, or just stressed because they’re poor and something went wrong. Given that Greyhound staff must experience obnoxious passengers every day, it’s understandable that it may put them in a bad mood sometimes.

      However, I have had pleasant experiences on Greyhound. Mostly on the short regional routes rather than the interstate routes. And I’ve also felt more comfortable travelling from Seattle to Chicago or Denver than east of there. (Although both those routes are gone now.) Travelling in the Cascades/Rockies is less stressful than back east because people are more laid back, and the bus travels essentially a whole day or two with only small-town stops. Back east it seems like you have to transfer every 8 hours, or at least sit in a crowded transfer station, and every time there’s the chance you’ll get bumped if the next bus is overcrowed and you have to wait for the following bus.

      1. The passengers indeed are part of the problem. Greyhound has few “choice” riders. BoltBus had demographics much more similar to Amtrak Cascades or flying.

        Not sure what to do there, the population who takes Greyhound still needs to get where they are going and I’d hate to see them stranded. On the other hand Greyhound probably needs to cater primarily to the BoltBus crowd if it is to survive as anything other than a charter company.

      2. ” Back east it seems like you have to transfer every 8 hours, or at least sit in a crowded transfer station, and every time there’s the chance you’ll get bumped if the next bus is overcrowed and you have to wait for the following bus.”

        Yep. East of Chicago, in the Northeast Greyhound is basically unusable except by the desparate. Where it runs trains at all.

      3. Ha, “where it runs buses at all”.

        Greyhound barely provides buses east of Chicago, and when it does they have all the flaws Mike Orr describes — lots of transfers in bizarre places and always a risk of being bumped due to overbooking.

  3. And a couple of other preferences:

    One, our State capitol deserves passengers not being forced to ride a local bus for forty minutes to board an intercity train. Now that I live there, ready to put in a lot of work to get rail service from any agency into Olympia itself.

    Also, really hate losing only stretch of the trip to Portland that gives passengers their money’s worth of living in the Pacific Northwest. Would be better if the freights went inland instead. Wonder if we could manage one or two a single-car diesel units along the water between Tacoma and Olympia. Would pay premium fare for that, too.


    1. Olympia has never had great direct to city center passenger rail service. Back in the day Olympia passengers had to transfer at East Olympia to/from a shuttle train. Building tracks into Olympia in such a way that it wouldn’t slow down people going between Seattle and Portland would be very expensive.

      However the bus service out to the station could be vastly improved. Perhaps a subsidized shuttle to Lacey and Olympia that meets every train and has limited stops?

      1. The tricky thing about a train shuttle is that the intervals between trains are just short enough for it to not make sense for the bus to to and from the base between every run, yet long enough so that a train shuttle would require long layovers to operate. Essentially, you would need to pay the cost of an all-day bus from 9 AM to 8 PM, yet have the bus make a mere 10 daily trips, with long layovers between runs.

        Also complicating things, the arrivals between the trains, especially in opposite directions, are not evenly spaced, so meeting every train might actually require 2 buses in circulation at the same time for some trips.

        Then there’s the fact that the punctuality of the trains, themselves, cannot be depended on. As a result, any connection from the train to a bus that left on the clock and did not wait for late trains would be extremely unreliable. Uncertainly in how late the train is going to be on any given trip would create yet more schedule headaches.

        I’m not saying it can’t be done, it’s ultimately a question of funding. But I can see how such a service would be more expensive to operate than it might, at first, appear.

        As an alternative option, suppose there was some coordination mechanism to allow passengers going from the station to the same place (e.g. downtown) to share a cab ride between them and split the cost, rather than each person be expected to pay their own cab ride to the same location? On paper, the distance between the station and downtown isn’t that far – at 4 people to a cab, the cost per person should, in theory, be as little as $5. The tricky part would be overcoming the cultural taboos against sharing rides with strangers.

      2. Even with 2 (or more) buses in operation at any given time a dedicated shuttle service for Centennial station is going to be way cheaper than any sort of rail based solution. Obviously any shuttle would have to wait for the train it is supposed to meet before leaving the station. However I don’t see this as much of a problem except for the northbound Starlight. Most of the time the Cascades is on-time or damn close to it.

        Perhaps some runs of the shuttle service could be replaced with Thruway coach runs to say Aberdeen or Shelton?

        To be perfectly fair to Intercity Transit they serve the Amtrak station pretty well. It is just that both routes serving it are local routes and the most frequent (64) is a coverage route with horrible travel times to downtown Olympia. The 94 is much more direct between downtown and the station and takes far less time (though is still slower than a dedicated shuttle).

        As for cabs the problem there is Thurston county just doesn’t have that many and they tend to be fairly slow compared to Seattle (even midday 30 minute wait times aren’t uncommon).

      3. Chris Stefan,

        You’re dating yourself. The East Olympia transfer was only for UP corridor trains before Amtrak. The station stop pre-Centennial was instituted by Amtrak.

        NP used to run about half of its corridor trains through Olympia because it owned the alternate line through Lacey and Gate. Yes, it was about thirty minutes longer than the main line, but the service was there.

        I don’t remember what GN did; maybe they had rights on the NP Lacey-Gate line.

    2. Oh please stop lamenting the Pt. Defiance Bypass trade off. I want a bullet train that shoots along a no compromises straight line between Portland and Seattle at 120 MPH or better, and achieves end-to-end run times that are clearly undeniably 25%+ better than any other mode. We cannot have that and stay on a shore line route that is nothing but a string of S curves, and meanders an extra 10+ miles longer than the straight shot route.

      Of course, we have no actual political will to build true high speed rail in this corridor within the lifetimes of any reading this, so I guess the picturesque status quo is fine.

      1. I agree. I would far rather have a fast, reliable train service than one which goes through more scenic corridors. If there is a need for a scenic train it can operate as a dinner train or something. Let’s work on making passenger rail a better alternative than driving.

    3. Mark,

      “The freights” can’t climb the hill, at least. not economically; that’s the reason that the line along the Sound was built in the first place.

    4. There’s a disused trackbed (part of it has been converted to “trail”) which runs straight from the mainline to downtown Olympia. It’s just a matter of money to run an Olympia-Tacoma-Seattle train.

      1. Nathanael,

        Yes, that’s the old Lacey-Olympia-Gate alternate line that NP used to serve Olympia with about half its trains to Portland.

  4. This post’s text has it backwards: there’s been a morning trip from Portland to Eugene added, and an afternoon trip from Eugene to Portland added. This is an improvement because previously, it was impossible to make a round trip from Portland to points south in one day.

  5. Whatever new trainset was running had a ton of mechanical issues… first time I have seen a Cascades following one by 20 or so minutes…

  6. Are the thru-way Amtrak buses being cancelled? Without those, it appears we are losing service.

    1. Thruways are actually being expanded, I just didn’t include them in my chart for brevity. Follow the link in the post to see the thruways.

  7. Assuming funding cuts force the second Vancouver train to be re-truncated to Bellingham, has anyone thought about shuffling schedules around to make the train function something like a commuter train, that is, at least on weekdays, the Seattle->Bellingham train could be timed to arrive in Seattle around 8 AM and leave Seattle around 5 PM.

    As an added bonus, perhaps this rescheduled Amtrak train could save Sound Transit a boatload of money by replacing one of the Sounder north trains. Meanwhile, Community Transit would likely find that directly subsidizing fares for Stanwood residents to get the per-trip down to the $3.50 commuter bus fare would be cheaper than operating a bus with 50 miles of deadheading to go all the way from Stanwood to downtown Seattle.

    1. I’ve wondered nearly the same on whether a three-way partnership between ST, CT and WSDOT to extend Sounder north of Everett would be something to think about. Perhaps with a new stop in Lakewood and in Marysville so it can replace the Route 421 also. People who still want to take the bus can take CT Route 821 to Lynnwood and transfer to a bus to Seattle.

      I also believe CT charges a bit more than $3.50 for service from Marysville and Stanwood to Seattle.

      1. CT charges more than ST’s $3.50 just to go to Lynnwood (and other south SnoHoCo destinations) — its adult express fares start at $4 and go up to $5.25 past Everett.

      2. The reason Stanwoodites and other north Everett suburbs gave for keeping one-seat rides in the last budget cuts was that the northbound trunk routes are frequently late due to traffic, and they didn’t want to miss their connection miss the last bus home,. So it would depend on how punctual the Amtrak trains are.

    2. That sounds like a good idea. However, remember that Community Transit still runs express buses from Edmunds and Mukilteo despite Sounder stopping there. I’ve no idea why, but might they insist on keeping Marysville and Stanwood service anyway?

      1. The way I see it, if we’re going to run an Amtrak train from Seattle to only Bellingham, and not go all the way to Vancouver, the train is, for all practical purposes, an extended version of Sounder, so you may as well operate it on a schedule that allows it to function as such – otherwise, every trip is going to have an awful lot of empty seats.

        That’s a good point about the tracks going right through downtown Marysville – it would be completely natural for a Seattle->Bellingham train to stop there.

        As to whether CT would insist on running parallel buses anyway, Marysville and Stanwood (especially Stanwood) are a lot further away from Seattle than Edmonds or Mukilteo, so the cost savings from not running parallel service is greater. My guess is that Marysville would still have some sort of parallel service because the train would be only good for one round trip and wouldn’t serve people who want to leave an hour earlier or after the train leaves. Also, I think at least some Marysville buses stop at Lynnwood TC on the way to downtown, which opens up a whole bunch of connection opportunities (e.g. 535 to Bellevue) that would be a lot more difficult with the train.

    3. It’s funny — in England long-distance national lines have higher fares entering London during peak hours, discouraging people from making daily commuter trips from Bristol. We’re talking about discounting commuter fares from all the way up in Stanwood… they’re concerned with managing demand for peak-hour trains into and out of London, we’re concerned with managing peak traffic on I-5.

      Anyway, ST has the “Rail Plus” arrangement with Amtrak, so at least there’s an existing framework for this sort of thing.

      As for why CT runs buses to Edmonds and Mukilteo… the 416 and 417 have a lot of inland coverage on the way to I-5 (including a few other P&Rs and transfers from Swift). They’re not as good at making the full run between Seattle and the Edmonds/Mukilteo train stations as the train is, but they’re much better at covering the stuff on the way to I-5. The Edmonds and Mukilteo stations are just natural anchors for commuter routes heading these directions — the only reason not to send them to the stations would be an aggressive Sounder ridership campaign encouraging people to instead take local routes heading the other direction and transfer to the train. Of course, then there’s the Seattle end of things, where they cover the north end of downtown much better than Sounder.

  8. You mention that no trains arriving in Seattle/Portland in the morning is a schedule issue and I agree. As someone who travels SEA/PDX sixty times per year (on Amtrak whenever possible), the biggest schedule issue is that the last train out of Seattle is only 5:30 PM. This means that most people working a 9-5ish downtown Seattle cannot reliably make it to the station in time to board the train.

    1. Garrett,

      I agree wholeheartedly. The last departure from Portland is at 6:45; why does the last departure from Seattle need to be so early?

      1. Currently, that train from Seattle had to get all the way down to Eugene, so they probably had it go earlier so it wouldn’t hit Eugene after midnight. Now that it terminates in Portland, it would make more sense for them to have it leave a bit later.

  9. While happy for Oregonians, I’m disappointed. I live in BC and have parents near Salem. Thus, I’ve been hoping and hoping for single-seat service between Vancouver and Eugene. I understand that Vancouver service might be reduced to once a day. While that would be disappointing, I’d take it in exchange for being able to ride that same train south of Portland. It makes total sense to use these new trainsets to have a morning train south from Portland and the opposite later in the day, so I’m not against what’s been done. Still, I wish this scheduling update would have included the extension of 513 and 516 south of Portland. Does anyone know why that is not presently done?

    I’d be even happier to see schedules shift to have 500 and 507 run north of Seattle (i.e., by rescheduling the northern legs of 513 and 516), but I understand that that’s much less likely due to the bottleneck on the New Westminster bridge across the Fraser River requiring Amtrak trains to run at specific times. With this unlikely, I was hoping to see 513 and 516 run south of Portland, but I guess that’s less important to Oregon.

    1. Talk to the BC government. There’s capacity for mid-day trains on this side of the border.

      1. Furthermore, the reason the train is so slow is entirely north of the border. BC hasn’t put any money into it.

    2. We’ve had the time-competitiveness debate on the worthiness of through-service. The math got crunched. The proof was in the pudding: only 5-7 passengers per day are slogging all the way from BC to Portland on Cascades.

      If they continued this train through on the even-lower-demand segment to Salem and Eugene, you’d be the only one ever to use it. That just isn’t worth rearranging the rest of the schedule for.

      1. My math is soundly derived from the official data available — revenue from the given trip pair, pricing structure for said trip pair, boarding data at one exclusive terminus of said trip pair.

        Your “foamer hunches” disinterest me, and should disinterest all evidence-based transpiration advocates.

      2. Tell me you’re kidding.

        Your words: “I think AW has found us enough data ingredients to do our own rough calculations.”

        What I’m saying is, your dataset is incomplete, which is allowing you to perform some very fuzzy math calculations.

        If you feel better dismissing my advice, as ‘foamer hunches’, I welcome that.

        But I hope others reading this blog are astute enough to get the data points at a detail level that truly validates their opinions.

      3. Zach asked for the comprehensive trip-pair-by-trip-pair data, and was told he would be charged for it.

        But AW did, indeed, offer us sufficient ingredients.

        Is it actually surprising to you that 14% of the revenue from the single train that makes the through-trip might amount to only 5-7 persons paying passengers? It shouldn’t, since those passengers are essentially paying a non-discounted double fare, equivalent to buying separate tickets for each leg. Don’t forget that our Talgo trains only hold a couple hundred people, and that the average 513/516 run is far from full.

        I’m sorry you’re so butthurt that the world at large doesn’t want to spend 8 hours on Amtrak, including lots of layover time, to make a trip that is 4x faster to fly or infinitely more flexible to drive. But it happens to be the truth.

      4. You’re basing your calculations on revenue dollar amounts.

        Since Amtrak, like other travel industries, uses Demand Pricing, so what price each ticket sells for can’t be extrapolated from such coarse month or year end figures accurately, and therefore any calculations you make of ridership is hazy at best.

        You would need to see the actual ridership numbers.

        You have declared these figures to be at Amtrak’s fingertips, but not worth validating by requesting them, …. if there is a cost to extract this information from their database.

        So, in lieu of actual data, it appears that you would rather toss some loose calculations out there, and make ill-informed conclusions.

        And declare yourself the expert.

      5. You’re just being ridiculous, Jim.

        At all times of year, and at all points on the demand-pricing spectrum, Portland-Vancouver fares are just a few dollars lower than the combined cost of buying two separate tickets from Portland-Seattle and Seattle-Vancouver.

        If anything, my calculations were too generous, as Amtrak and the state DOTs regularly run discounts between the most common destination-pairs. The annualized average fare between Portland-Seattle and Seattle-Vancouver may actually be even lower than I estimated. Perhaps that 14% Portland-Vancouver revenue represents as few as 4 passengers per day!

        If I can count the people making the trip on the fingers of one hand — or even two or three hands — then it’s an essentially negligible modeshare for mode-agnostic (read: non-foamer) travelers.

        Put in pipe. Smoke.

      6. d.p.: your analysis only holds true if current timings are maintained. And if current timings are maintained, the Vancouver service is a very questionable service, period.

        If the slow travelling in BC is eliminated, knocking an hour off the trip, you have to look again. Then Portland-Vancouver demand may (or may not) boom.

      7. By the way, I’ve spent a while comparing and contrasting the financial performance of different Amtrak routes. It turns out that the distinction between “long distance” and “corridor” is mostly irrelevant. The important distinction is between “time-competitive with driving” and “not at all time-competitive with driving”.

        Some long-distance routes are time-competitive with driving and do pretty well (Lake Shore Limited); some short-distance routes aren’t time-competitive with driving and do pretty badly (Hoosier State). In some cases, it’s separate segments of a route: the Crescent is time-competitive from New York as far as North Carolina, and arguable as far as Atlanta, but completely hopeless from Atlanta to New Orleans. The California Zephyr is time-competitive from Chicago to Denver (really!), arguable as far as the ski resorts, and completely hopeless from there to Salt Lake City. The Capitol Corridor is completely hopeless unless you’re using it to catch connecting bus service to San Francisco (which provides *all* of the time savings on the route) and apparently exists mainly so commuters can avoid finding parking in San Francisco and Oakland. Et cetera.

        At the moment, Vancouver-Seattle is not time-competitive with driving, while Seattle-Portland is. This situation appears likely to continue, due to WA funding improvements in Seattle-Portland and BC funding nothing.

      8. I absolutely agree on Vancouver. Speed up the Canadian side of the trip, minimize the hassle at the border stop, and get the whole service to the point of being reliable enough to drop the Seattle layover/padding from 30-60 minutes down to 5 minutes — just as the New York stopping time on Acela eventually needs to disappear — and you can take a new look at the usability and eventual modeshare of some through-trips.

        As for the long-distance routes, you’re probably right that the ones that are no slower than driving perform less dismally than the ones that are. Nevertheless, at certain distances (most major Lake Shore city pairs), certainly Chicago-Denver and New York to Atlanta, even Chicago-Kansas City, you must factor competitiveness against flying into account. And when you do, you come to realize that flying has about a 90% modeshare and a 99.9% choice modeshare on every one of those distance corridors.

        Flying retains an insurmountable advantage until the point at which high-speed rail is built completely from scratch… and without detouring through Buffalo.

        Would it not make sense to invest in the improvements necessary to make Indianapolis-Chicago (too close to fly) a feasible choice by rail, rather than pissing away money on 24-hour sloggers?

  10. Alaska Air has a sale on flights to Portland for $49 each way.

    It’s a limited time sale, but that seems pretty competitive with Amtrak fares.

    And the plane only takes half an hour!

    1. The flight is actually about 40 minutes, plus security and boarding. Then consider also that neither SeaTac or PDX is actually Seattle nor Portland proper, so add 40 minutes at each end for light rail trips, plus another 20 minutes or so for transfers. The result is over 3 hours.

      Nevertheless I booked my February Portland trips via Alaska air at the Cyber Monday sales price. It’s at least some variety from my frequent Cascades train trips.

      1. Exactly. This is why Seattle-Portland on Cascades is a genuinely and rationally competitive trip, and why it therefore stands to cross the 1,000-daily-passenger mark in the not-too-distant future, representing significant modeshare in the corridor.

        That is called real transportation.

        Half a dozen people slogging an entire day from BC to Portland… not so much.

      2. Ok, but isn’t that a sad commentary on transit’s inability to (still…yet) deliver fast access to an airport from all parts in the Puget Sound?

        The goal is supposed to be, I take cab, bus, or park my car and walk to a transit station (not drive all the way to the airport) and get on a plane, travel 40 minutes, and then do the reverse at Portland (jumping on MAXX, heading to my AirBnB room and renting a car close to my destination as needed).

      3. “This is why Seattle-Portland on Cascades is a genuinely and rationally competitive trip, and why it therefore stands to cross the 1,000-daily-passenger mark in the not-too-distant future, representing significant modeshare in the corridor.

        That is called real transportation.

        Half a dozen people slogging an entire day from BC to Portland… not so much.

        This is a good example of how you have no clue how transportation systems work.

        Do you even know any history of the Cascades service?

      4. And it all appears out of thin air, right?

        Actually, I think you believe that.
        At first, I had you pegged for some auto-centric troll, masquerading as a transit supporter, but engaging in arguments that create false dichotomies. Your bus/train vs my bus/train.

        Then, after a few posts where you displayed your automotive operational incompetence, (where is the latch?), I realized what is happening.

        You’re a classic east-coast ‘Transit Riders Union’ type.
        The kind that complain and stamp their feet when things don’t serve them perfectly, but have no clue of what it takes to deliver the service.

        The problem with your transit-entitlement perspective is that this ain’t Boston. Most of the country isn’t the transit friendly environment the east coast is.

        Out here they live off the highway welfare fund.
        Most of the public out in the US has ‘auto-entitlement’, and it manifests itself in the way all the local cities, including Seattle, plan.

        Yes, if you actually spend a little time investigating, you’d know that highways are what’s being planned, and the transit systems are being fed the crumbs.

        Your posts show that you don’t spend the time.

        However, I’m convinced the moderators of this blog are out to get you anyway.

      5. What are you even talking about, Jim?

        You’ve been on a mission to convince all of us that:
        1) Any train is a success story because it’s a train;
        2) People should willingly choose a slower method of transport because you like it;
        3) Half a dozen riders taking an 8-hour train end-to-end prove its vitality as a long-distance service.

        None of this has anything to do with West Coast driving bias or “the highway welfare fund”. It’s just about recognizing the infrastructural realities of the present, and encouraging transit investments where they can do the most good. That means well-integrated urban transit to unstuck our cities, and intercity transit at distances where targeted improvements have a chance of earning a high modeshare (like Seattle-Portland).

        If expecting transit to actually work well before proclaiming it a success means I have an “East-Coast” demeanor, than I happily accept that charge. Since when is “well-intentioned incompetence” to be celebrated as a virtue?

    2. As someone that lives within walking distance of the airport light rail line in Portland, I will take the train up to Seattle every time if given the choice. Once you add in travel time to the airport and security, and airport Link on the other end, the flight only ends up being about an hour faster. I’d rather spend an extra hour to get a one-seat ride with generous legroom, the ability to walk around, and the views from the train.

      However, I did book a flight on Horizon to catch a flight over to Asia in January, mainly because the connections from Amtrak to Seatac are so time-consuming.

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