FAQs

  • The 2019 Business Case Analysis, prepared by the Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT), evaluated eight locations:  Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, WA; and Portland, OR, with a combination of stops in Surrey, B.C.; Bellingham, Everett, Tukwila, Tacoma, Olympia, and Kelso, WA. Where stations are located will be the result of a robust public engagement process.

  • Selecting a route will be the result of a robust public engagement process once the project receives funding. Planning, engineering, and other technical analysis will provide information to the public and decision makers about the system’s benefits and impacts.

  • The initial analysis for the Cascadia project was technology neutral. Rapid advances in hyperloop or maglev deserve consideration along with high-speed rail. The selection of a technology is one of the next steps after the project receives funding.

  • A trip between Seattle and Portland or Seattle and Vancouver will reliably take approximately one hour on the ultra-high-speed system. Today those same trips take at least three hours by car or air.

  • WSDOT’s 2019 Business Case Analysis assumed between 21 and 30 daily roundtrips between Portland, OR and Vancouver, BC., including both express and local service options. The number of trains, travel time between stations, and station locations will be the result of a robust public engagement process and technical analysis.

  • WSDOT’s 2019 Business Case Analysis projected high demand for faster trips between Vancouver, BC and Portland, OR with more than three million annual trips on an ultra-high-speed system. This compares to 2.6 million personal miles traveled on I-5 in 2019.

  • Travel by rail is one of the safest modes of travel with some of the lowest accident rates per mile of any mode. Automobiles result in more than 7 passenger deaths per billion passenger miles compared to virtually none by high-speed rail, according to the 2019 Business Case Analysis.

  • WSDOT’s 2019 Business Case Analysis assumed the ultra-high-speed system would be operational by 2040. Based on recent Northwest and national projects, planning, alternatives analysis, and environmental review for the more than 300-mile corridor could take as long as 10 years. How long construction takes will be determined by the alignment, number of stations, and other factors.

  • Stations at existing rail stations and transit hubs will create first- and last-mile connections to existing buses, commuter rail, and light rail systems. It will also connect to Amtrak trains to points not directly served by the ultra-high-speed system, such as routes south and east of the corridor.

  • WSDOT’s 2017 feasibility study estimated the cost between $27 and $42 billion (2017$) based on estimated costs per mile and assumptions about the type of construction (i.e., at-grade, tunneling). Additional planning, route development, and engineering is needed to update the cost estimate. In comparison, WSDOT estimates that adding a lane in each direction of Interstate 5 through the state would cost approximately $108 billion in 2018 dollars.

  • It is too soon to know how much it will cost to ride the system. The cost of a ticket will be based on a variety of factors, such as stations, number of trips per day, and type of service (local versus express).

  • The 2050 Cascadia Vision report found that more than 50% of Cascadia residents are housing cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on a place to live. Lower-income households spend nearly 16% of their take-home income on transportation, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. An ultra-high-speed system will provide a faster, more affordable, and reliable trip for people and connect them to good-paying jobs and more affordable housing, making our region more equitable for everyone.

  • Learning lessons from other infrastructure projects will be an important part of developing the project. One early lesson from the California high-speed rail project is the importance of robust public engagement with all communities and stakeholders early and often. This will be one of the first steps after the project receives funding.

  • We must continue to invest in transportation, maintain the system we have and plan for the future. We expect nearly 4 million more people moving to the Cascadia region by 2050. If we don’t act, our current problems — congestion, housing affordability and climate change — will only get worse.

  • With an expected 30% increase in our megaregion’s population over the next 30 years, we need more capacity in our transportation system. The capacity of a high-speed rail line typically exceeds the peak capacity of a four-lane interstate highway or a two-runway airport. WSDOT estimates building enough lanes to address just today’s congestion would require as much as a $2.50 per gallon gas tax increase.

  • It’s not a choice between an ultra-high-speed system or airplanes. With nearly four million people moving to the Cascadia region in the next 30 years, we need capacity in all modes of travel.

A diverse coalition supporting the Cascadia Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation project

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