In 2016 Cascades performance numbers are getting better.  Ridership, on time performance, recovery rate, and other metrics, as of August, are better than last year and likely the past two years.

Cascades 2016 ridership data looks very promising.  2016 is currently a better year than both 2015 and 2014 when comparing ridership totals up to August.  Total ridership this year is up 7% compared to the same point in 2015.  It is possible 2016 could be an even better year for ridership than 2013.  This reverses four years of declines.

On time performance also improved.  Trains are arriving on time more often and there have been no dismal months.  In 2015 there were two months where trains arrived less than 70% of the time.  This year each month has been above 70%.

Average income per rider is nearly the same compared to 2015.  In 2015, up to August, the average was $37.89.  This year the average is $37.19.  The increased numbers of riders should greatly improve the recovery rate as well.  Briefly looking at Amtrak’s report for per mile seat loss and overall loss, year over year, makes me believe the recovery rate at the end of this year will easily exceed 60%.  The highest recovery rate on record for Washington trains is from 2011 at 66.2%, however a different cost structure was in place where Amtrak picked up some costs.  Last year, the second year with the new cost structure, ended with a recovery rate of 58.6% and 2014 was 58.1%.

Expect at the end of the year total ridership to be at 800,000 or greater, 80% or higher on time performance, and possibly even a 62% recovery rate.


14 Replies to “Amtrak Cascades Performance Improves”

    1. This was also the time that things got to be really unreliable and slow due to track construction. It also was the start of a major increase in the number of oil trains interfering with traffic on the line.

  1. It would be nice if they also included the bus data. There is only one train each direction between Vancouver BC and Portland, and only one a day between Eugene and Seattle. By ignoring the connecting buses in the data, we don’t really know where the ultimate destinations are of the passengers on each of those trains.

  2. We’ve got to make the investments to get the on-time performance up to 90% and the average speed (including stops) up to 70 mph. Accomplish those two things and both ridership and recovery factor will be phenomenal.

    And we really should find a way to convince Oregon that similar investments on their side of the river are worth it. Why Oregon is such a laggard on improvements to cascades is beyond me.

    1. I believe that Oregon does not have a dedicated source of funding for its part of Cascades.

      British Columbia has not done a lot either to improve performance from the border to the station in Vancouver.

    2. Willamette Week (Portland’s equivalent to Seattle Weekly) has a columnist called Dr. Know. He attempts to answer questions about stuff.

      Please see his response to Why Is Washington Always Ahead of Oregon on Progressive Measures?

      Basically, as bad as your state legislature is about progressive stuff, ours is even worse when it comes to being controlled by a bunch of misty eyed romantics that reminisce of how much better things were in the days before pollution controls, child labor laws and trust busting.

    3. Speed should be (and I think is) the #1 priority for WSDOT.

      Currently, it takes 3:40 from Seattle to Portland. Outside of rush hour, compare this to driving (2:30) and BoltBus (3:30 estimated, should be equivalent to driving).

      The only time Amtrak is better is during rush hour and Sunday afternoons, when driving and Bolt Bus can push upwards of 5 hours. I can’t recall what the end goal time is once all the improvements, including Nisqually bypass, are done, but if WSDOT can get Seattle->Portland to sub 3 hour or even down to 2:30, I could see ridership skyrocketing. 2 hours would be incredible, but that’s going to take WSDOT purchasing the entire BNSF line.

      1. On the Cascades 3:40 schedule (it’s 3:50 on the mid-day train), there is 25 minutes of pad. So, if everything goes perfectly, it only takes 3:15, which I have experienced. Driving on Friday evening takes 3:30 to 4:00, and it’s really stressful.

  3. The current Cascades schedule is with the track construction padding in place and the bulk of that padding is out of Tacoma and Kelso/Longview.

    Rode the train a little bit ago and it was 3 hours and 4 minutrs Seattle to Portland.

    The big work in Auburn (between Kent and Pacific) will be done in November/December.

    Point Defiance is nearly done with track work and moving ahead of signal installation.

    Longview/Kelso still has another 5 months of work ahead of it before it is completed but nearly all of the civil work is done, sans the new bridge and some more fill work for the third main.

    Things are slowing down construction wise due to the amount of trains running (grain season is upon us)

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