Transportation

Because being there is what's most important, WPC's Center for Transportation researches and analyzes the best practices for relieving traffic congestion by recapturing a vision of a system based on freedom of movement.

What's New

The conservative case for high-speed rail

January 28, 2010 in In the News
Seattle Weekly
Source: 
Seattle Weekly
Date: 
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Second northbound Amtrak train is a waste of money

January 27, 2010 in In the News
Bellingham Herald
Source: 
Bellingham Herald
Date: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Second daily train to Vancouver, B.C., now averages 78 passengers per trip

January 27, 2010 in In the News
Bellingham Herald
Source: 
Bellingham Herald
Date: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Would High-Speed Rail Work in Seattle? (video)

January 27, 2010 in In the News
KIRO 7
Source: 
KIRO 7
Date: 
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Can light rail avoid Bellevue Way?

January 26, 2010 in Blog

Yes. And according to Bellevue City Councilman Kevin Wallace, his Vision Line proposal also costs less:

This proposal, dubbed the "Vision Line," accomplishes Sound Transit
goals by providing quality light rail at a cost substantially less than
the tunnel routes under consideration. Sound Transit is currently
studying the Vision Line and three other new alignments in downtown
Bellevue. In the coming months it will decide whether to adopt this
option as its new preferred alternative.

The Vision Line uses the BNSF railroad right of way through South
Bellevue, travels elevated along the west side of Interstate 405 at the
edge of downtown to Northeast Sixth Street where it crosses I-405 and
reconnects with the BNSF right of way to the north.

This alignment is safer, faster and more reliable than other
alternatives because it is entirely grade separated from roadways,
meaning it can run at full speed without concern for traffic.

Debating light rail? Think long term

January 24, 2010 in In the News
The Columbian (Vancouver)
Source: 
The Columbian (Vancouver)
Date: 
Sunday, January 24, 2010

Only 67 passengers ride new Amtrak train between Seattle and Vancouver

January 19, 2010 in Blog

Last August, Amtrak opened a second train between Seattle and Vancouver B.C. The line is meant to be a pilot project ahead of the Winter Olympic games due to begin in February. Both the WSDOT and the Canadian government are waiting to see how high passenger demand is before deciding whether to make the second train permanent.

The new train makes one additional round trip between Seattle and Vancouver, everyday. According to the WSDOT, the average number of passengers on each leg is about 67.

The National Railroad Passenger Corporation presented a re!
port to Congress
in October 2009 that estimated the second line would lose about $1 million in operating costs (paid by taxpayers) and it would serve about 60,000 trips per year. The 60,000 trips per year translates to about 82 people per leg between Seattle and Vancouver.

Olympic service begins on February 12, 2009 and as Jared Paben points out on his Bellingham Traffic Blog, officials plan to make a decision on whether to make the second train permanent within the month. I'm still trying to find out how many passengers are required to justify permanent service (I've seen numbers between 60-100). But the current 67 passengers-per-leg is data collected between August 19 and December 31. I found that State and Amtrak officials offered a 25 percent discount on all fares to and from Vancouver over the same time period!
. Lowering prices during a time in which you're measuring !
demand (in the hopes of justifying permanent service) doesn't seem very objective to me but that's exactly what happened.

Either way, spending a million dollars per year in public taxes to move 67 people per day between Seattle and Vancouver is laughable. Supporters say instead of measuring mobility, we should look at the economic benefits of adding a second train. They point to a WSDOT study that shows Amtrak passengers spend about $13-$26 million a year in the Vancouver area

Are you kidding? Its reasonable to expect passengers to spend a couple of hundred dollars in the Vancouver area. But if the WSDOT finding is correct, then those 67 passengers would have to spend between $36,000 to $71,000 everyday they crossed into Vancouver. That is simply unrealistic.

The study also mistakenly assumes this economic activity would not !
occur otherwise. People who choose to visit Vancouver would do so with or without a second Amtrak train. They would just find a different way to get there.

Adding a second train between Seattle and Vancouver makes sense during the Winter Olympics. But continuing permanent service beyond March stretches the support of even the most liberal of economic interpretations.