Clark County Todayreports that Washington public transportation has been particularly affected by the pandemic. This has impacted Amtrak, local buses and trains, and even ferries.
Major decreases in Amtrak ridership
Amtrak Cascades provides train service through the Pacific Northwest, even reaching up to Vancouver in Canada. In 2019, Amtrak Cascades saw 824,000 riders. However, the pandemic saw this reduced by 79% with only 172,000 riders.
The pandemic caused Amtrak Cascades to reduce the number of trips that trains made per day. Prior to the pandemic, they ran four round trips daily from
Seattleto Portland. All of these particular trips and trips that went into Canada were suspended during the pandemic.
This major decrease in ridership naturally led to major financial losses for Amtrak Cascades. In 2019, they saw $33.2 million in ticket sales, but in 2020, they only had $6.5 million.
Decreases in other transportation as well
Washington state, transit use has been down, as the effects of the pandemic are still felt. In the entire state, ridership has decreased by 45%. Clark County has seen declines in the use of their C-TRAN transit, but this loss has not been as extreme as in other parts of the state.
While travel by ferry is not something that everyone would use, the Washington State Ferries have experienced noteworthy decreases. For the third quarter of the 2021 fiscal year, they saw 3.1 million riders. This was a decrease of 23.1% from the previous year.
A major issue faced by Washington State Ferries right now is canceled trips. 702 trips were canceled during the third quarter of the 2021 fiscal year. Breakdowns in vessels were cited as the biggest cause for canceled trips.
Traffic returning to normal in Washington
While public transportation numbers are still greatly affected at the moment, there are signs that traffic is returning to normal in Washington.
The Washington Department of Transportation data shows that most major highways in the state are seeing numbers only slightly under normal levels. The I-5 highway is actually up by four percent compared to numbers from 2019 before the pandemic.
With more people traveling as they did before the pandemic, air travel is also up. The numbers are not quite as high as they were before the pandemic, but they are recovering and are considerably higher than in 2020. International air travel will likely take a while to return to pre-pandemic levels.
As residents in Washington and elsewhere either stayed at home or focused on social distancing measures, public transportation has been struggling. As life returns to normal, it is yet unknown whether people will resume public transportation usage or if they will switch to driving instead.
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