[NOTE: The summary published in Railway Age, which I used as the primary source for this article and which had its original source in news reports elsewhere, contained a few inaccuracies. This included reporting the funding package at the state level in a way that neglected to include a number of funding sources, thus representing the total cost of the Oregon section of the Cascades service. Please read the much better article on the main Seattle Transit Blog page article, as well as the much more extensive discussion there. – Glenn Laubaugh]
As reported in Railway Age:
The cost to operate Amtrak Cascades service in the state of Oregon during the next two year budget cycle is estimated to be $10.4 million. Originally Amtrak had requested $20 million to operate the service but this was negotiated downward by state officials.
The Oregon Joint Ways and Means Committee has now reduced the funds available to $5 million.
If this level of funding is the final budget for the Oregon section of Cascades service, it is likely to be insufficient for any regular train operations and the service may have to be cut. There are some at the Oregon Department of Transportation that feel there are likely other sources of funds available and if those come through they will continue operating the Cascades trains even with this restricted level of general funds available. Efforts are far from over yet.
If you are one of those approximately 24,000 passengers* per year from the Puget Sound region that continue south of Portland, you may need to be prepared for some service adjustments that coincide with the Oregon funding.
For the coming budget cycle the allocation for highways is $1.6 billion, for a comparison of how little of the total Oregon transportation package is actually spent on the Cascades service.
While this is obviously an Oregon problem, the fact is the Cascades trains are a regional service. If there is any interest in further updates I will attempt to keep people here informed of further developments.
* The totals listed in the September, 2014 Seattle Transit Blog entry do not include passengers that had to change trains or change from a train to a bus due to a lack of through service. Thus, e.g., in that article no passengers are shown traveling from Eugene to Everett as there is no single service that makes such a trip. Actual through ridership south of Portland is higher than indicated in that article due to southbound bus connections at Portland for several trains from Seattle.
Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”) is employed by a manufacturer of electrical equipment for railroad passenger cars. Typical commute: TriMet #10.