The Amtrak Cascades has been a hit, with one exception — the Willamette Valley. For years, as ridership soared between Portland and Seattle, it languished between Eugene and Portland.
Oregon legislators were concerned about that dead zone, because Oregon buys train sets and funds that route, just as our neighbor Washington pays an even larger share. Legislators identified scheduling as the Willamette Valley route’s main problem.
Hillary Borrud of our statehouse bureau reports that after moving the morning train’s start time from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., ridership jumped. And the on-time record of the Eugene-Portland train has improved markedly.
Rail must be part of the intercity transportation solution. The rail route between Portland Seattle has gained popularity over the past decade, and it is easy to see why. Interstate 5 between the two cities, especially into Seattle, is a nightmare.
Many in Congress want to see Amtrak fail. We out here cannot afford that.