Amtrak’s Washington bias
Now, I don’t want to become the “alternative transportation and cooking writer” here at PDX Metblogs, but hey, it’s what I pay attention to. The boyfriend and I are heading up to Vancouver, BC this weekend, and we’re going by train. I took the train a lot when I was a kid to visit my dad, but I am sad to say that I haven’t ridden Amtrak since I was at least 14. My last train ride, in fact, was in France in 2004. I absolutely love train travel, and since the last town I lived in had no passenger rail service, I was extremely excited to find out that a train goes all the way from here to Canada!
Oh, how I was mistaken. Oh, yes, there is a train that goes from here to BC, but it stops overnight in Seattle. The one and only train to Vancouver leaves from Seattle early in the morning and the only train from Vancouver leaves too late in the afternoon to take it all the way through to Portland. So we’re stuck taking the Amtrak bus on the Seattle-Vancover trip and back again, which I wasn’t too pleased to find out. Since Amtrak is really pushing the Cascades line, they included a free “companion pass” in the fantastic Chinook Book, which is actually why I purchased the darned thing anyway (though all in all, it has been awesome). My beef: Since the train does not go all the way to Vancouver from Eugene (where the Cascades line starts), the coupon in the book does not cover the entire route. The furthest one can go and use the coupon (in Oregon) is from Eugene to Seattle, and I really haven’t a need to go to Seattle. After finding out that the fare with the coupon is the exact same as the fare without the coupon (because of the way they bill the bus and train rides separately with the coupon in use), I’m keeping the savings for the next time we decide to take the train to Eugene (erm…). Thus, I call shenanigans on Amtrak. Why have a coupon marketed mostly to the Portland market (in the Portland Chinook Book) when it’s only useful to travel in a 3-hour radius, whereas the coupon offered in the Seattle-based Chinook Book would cover the full Cascades train lines?