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Amtrak Cascades - Ridership and Capacity Utilization

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Measures of Amtrak Cascades performance, including ridership and train capacity utilization.

Ridership and Capacity Utilization

Amtrak Cascades annual ridership (Washington) is the number of passengers who rode the Amtrak Cascades trains operating in Washington state (between Portland, OR and Vancouver, B.C.). For details on the methodology used to calculate Amtrak Cascades ridership and train capacity utilization, see Amtrak Cascades system performance methodology (pdf 5.9 mb).

Train Capacity Utilization is the percentage of seats occupied between stations averaged over a defined timeframe (quarterly, annually, etc.). WSDOT reports Amtrak Cascades capacity utilization at the sub-segment level. Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. Any time demand on capacity for a sub-segment exceeds 100%, capital projects, such as increasing the number of seats per train trip or adding more frequent trips, would be necessary to increase capacity.


Source: WSDOT Rail, Freight and Ports Division.

Multi-year trends

Between 2015 and 2019, five-year period, Amtrak Cascades ridership increased from by 12.1% from 672,000 passengers in 2015 to 753,000 passengers in 2019.

Over the same time, Amtrak Cascades capacity utilization increased substantially on all segments. Capacity utilization on the least-used segment increased from 44.9% in 2015 to 48.6% in 2019, and on the most-used segment it increased from 62.1% in 2015 to 64.4% in 2019. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

Annual highlights

In 2019, systemwide ridership (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon) was about 753,000, an increase of 3.0% from 731,000 in 2018.o In 2019, about 499,000 riders traveled within the Seattle-to-Portland segment, 193,000 riders traveled within the Vancouver, B.C.-to-Seattle segment, and the remaining 61,000 riders traveled across both segments.

In 2019, 64.3% of seats on Amtrak Cascades were utilized on Washington’s peak sub-segment (Olympia – Centralia), increasing from 61.2% in 2018. Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. For example, if the Olympia – Centralia sub-segment was sold out, someone in Seattle could not buy a ticket to Portland. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

In 2018, systemwide ridership (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon) was about 731,000, an increase of 0.4% from 728,000 in 2017.

In 2018, 61.2% of seats on Amtrak Cascades were utilized on Washington’s peak sub-segment (Olympia – Centralia), decreasing from 62.1% in 2017. Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. For example, if the Olympia – Centralia sub-segment was sold out, someone in Seattle could not buy a ticket to Portland. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

In 2017, systemwide ridership (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon) was about 728,000, an increase of 1.0% from 735,000 in 2016.

In 2017, 62.1% of seats on Amtrak Cascades were utilized on Washington’s peak sub-segment (Olympia – Centralia), decreasing from 61.8% in 2016. Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. For example, if the Olympia – Centralia sub-segment was sold out, someone in Seattle could not buy a ticket to Portland. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

In 2016, systemwide ridership (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon) was about 735,000, an increase of 9.4% from 672,000 in 2015.

In 2016, 61.8% of seats on Amtrak Cascades were utilized on Washington’s peak sub-segment (Olympia – Centralia), decreasing from 62.1% in 2015. Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. For example, if the Olympia – Centralia sub-segment was sold out, someone in Seattle could not buy a ticket to Portland. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

In 2015, systemwide ridership (between Vancouver, British Columbia and Portland, Oregon) was about 672,000.

In 2015, 62.1% of seats on Amtrak Cascades were utilized on Washington’s peak sub-segment (Olympia – Centralia). Utilization rates for the peak sub-segment can limit available capacity for the entire corridor. For example, if the Olympia – Centralia sub-segment was sold out, someone in Seattle could not buy a ticket to Portland. Average train capacity utilization fluctuates throughout the year, with trains selling out during weekends, holidays and the summer.

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