Before the pandemic, the Amtrak Cascades carried 159,000 people annually between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Then in May 2020 the northern leg of the Cascades route was put on pause as the US-Canada border closed. The service was set to resume shortly but has hit a snag. Although Amtrak Cascades has not committed to an exact date yet, it may not start again until December 2022.
The reason behind the delay is staffing shortages. Amtrak is lacking conductors, mechanics and onboard service personnel. On the Amtrak careers page, there are job listings for 18 positions. These include openings for a chef, electricians, cleaners, and more. Once these positions are filled there is extensive job training that the hired personnel must undergo, which adds to the delay.
Both Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Oregon Department of Transportation have requested that Amtrak at least offer partial service in the meantime. This would mean the Seattle to Vancouver route would operate a few days a week.
Whenever the service resumes, you’ll be able to pay $40 each way between Seattle and Vancouver. The trip takes about three hours for one way. Prior to the pandemic, this route ran twice daily.
Although the train ride typically takes longer than it would to drive from Seattle to Vancouver, many travelers prefer it for several reasons (even those who own a car). It reduces the need to worry about parking and traffic and is better for the environment. Plus, there is something to be said for the pleasant experience of relaxing in a train car and enjoying the scenery passing by.
Until the Amtrak Cascades service resumes, travelers can take a daily bus from Seattle to Vancouver. You can book a bus ride through Amtrak. Although it takes a little longer than the train ride and isn’t quite as charming, it still might be a better option for you than driving.