Amtrak Cascades Passenger Rail Operations Funding
Daily operation of the Amtrak Cascades trains is funded by ticket sales and a combination of state and federal funds including funding from the states of Washington (47%) and Oregon (29.3%) and Amtrak (23.7%).
Ticket revenue for 2011 reached $30,310,262 and exceeded the estimated target of $28.3 million for the Amtrak Cascades corridor. This helped to bring Washington's farebox recovery to nearly 66 percent, reducing the amount that the state paid to subsidize the service.
Since 1994, Washington state has invested in rail infrastructure improvements, station upgrades and train operations. The budget pie charts below show Washington state's Biennial Rail Budget.
Print or view all budget slides (pdf 300 kb)
Please note these slides do not contain federal capital funding.
Funding from the state of Washington comes from taxes collected from the sale of new and used motor vehicles, car rentals and vehicle weight fees. These funds are directed to WSDOT’s intercity passenger rail program by the governor and the state legislature.
Long-Term Funding Challenges for Operating Amtrak Cascades Service
Starting in October 2013, states with intercity passenger rail service will be required to fund the operations and maintenance of their entire service, instead of using federal dollars through Amtrak. This is the result of a law passed by Congress in 2008 that requires states to pay for all state-sponsored service. One Amtrak Cascades train between Seattle and Portland is currently funded by federal Amtrak dollars. What is known so far is that, without the help of federal funding, the Amtrak Cascades service cost could increase by an additional $3 to $5 million per year.
The States for Passenger Rail Coalition has been working with Amtrak on a new accounting methodology that will break down all Amtrak direct costs for providing passenger service. WSDOT is engaged with other states on the implementation strategy to take on these added costs and responsibilities. WSDOT is working with Oregon and Amtrak on a revenue management strategy to improve ridership to offset the additional costs.
Federally Funded Capital Improvements
Washington state has received nearly $800 million in federal funding to increase the frequency and reliability of the Amtrak Cascades service:
- In early 2010, Washington was selected to receive $590 million in federal high-speed rail funding, part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) high-speed rail grants, administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
- That was followed by an additional $161.5 million in Recovery Act funds redirected from Ohio and Wisconsin.
- In October 2010, Washington was awarded an additional $31 million in other federal appropriations.
- The grant funding was part of $8 billion awarded to 13 rail corridors spanning 31 states.
No state or federal gas tax dollars can be spent on rail construction projects or Amtrak Cascades operations.
Want to ride the train? Visit http://www.amtrakcascades.com/ to plan a trip, view schedules, and make a reservation. For fares and reservations, you can also call 1-800-USA-RAIL.