April 22, 2023

AAWA News, April 2023

Celebrating Earth Day By Supporting Seamless Mobility

AAWA Vice-President Gary Wirt reports from Yakima: “I'm just back from our AAWA Earth Day booth. We had a display of various train photos, routes, etc., mostly taken from our Train Trek presentations. We acquired about 100 signatures for a letter in support of passenger rail.

AAWA table at Yakima Earth Day, with guy in bike gear viewing the materials.
AAWA table at Yakima Earth Day

Passersby took at least 100+ of my business cards as we invited people to visit the AAWA website for more information.

Passenger rail in Central Washington

“I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who stopped and spent several minutes asking questions about rail. I talked constantly for the entire 4 hours and did not get a chance to sit down the entire time. Virtually everyone was in favor of rail. In fact I did not hear even one person express any opposition to rail.

“It was a very well attended event, in part because the weather was beautiful: a few scattered clouds, lots of sun, temperatures in the 60's, no wind, and cherry blossoms around town.”

Sharing the Benefits of Passenger Rail

Throughout the world, passenger rail is successfully bringing significant economic, environmental and equity benefits to citizens and communities of all sizes. These benefits are greatest when there are seamless, door to door connections that include sidewalks, local transit, and intercity rail.

We need transportation that provides safe, reliable, frequent, competitive, and convenient passenger rail services that meet the needs of everyone in the region, including low-income, tribal, and rural communities, people with disabilities, locations where transportation alternatives are limited, and the thirty percent of the population that does not drive.

High speed rail should be one aspect of this network. AAWA continues to support the Governor’s High-Speed Rail initiative. But just as the Interstate Highway System does not replace state and local roads, high speed rail must be part of a statewide and region-wide rail transportation system that can be built relatively quickly and easily on existing infrastructure. Improving and expanding conventional rail will ensure the eventual success of HSR.

Right now, there is an unprecedented amount of Federal funding available. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law offers $66 billion in funding for rail. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity. Contact your Federal, state and local elected officials, and support AAWA in our efforts!

The Rail Policy Coalition is Growing

AAWA has made significant progress in expanding our coalition in support of passenger rail throughout the region. The coalition includes transportation, environmental, health care, labor and community organizations, which originally came together in January 2022 to endorse a joint statement on Rail Policy Recommendations. It’s now been expanded to include groups in Oregon and British Columbia as well as Washington. Recent new endorsers include:

  • Disability Mobility Initiative
  • Sierra Club, Oregon Chapter
  • Sierra Club, Washington State Chapter
  • Transit Riders Union of Seattle
  • Transport Action British Columbia
  • Transport Action Canada

The full statement is available at https://www.aawa.us/railpolicy/ Thanks to everyone who has endorsed our work! We welcome other organizations that are interested in joining the coalition.

More on the FRA Study to Restore Discontinued Amtrak Routes

The Federal Railroad Administration’s Amtrak Daily Long-Distance Service Study continues. The next working group meetings will be held in July. We urge you to review the meeting materials collected so far, particularly regarding restoration of the North Coast Hiawatha and Pioneer services. Make your comments via the web form on the study homepage or by email at [email protected].

Sponsor AAWA Events

Together with All Aboard Northwest (AANW)  and The Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates (AORTA), AAWA is conducting community outreach through our “Train Trek” events and the 2023 Greater Northwest Rail Passenger Summit. We invite you to support these efforts.

The 2023 Train Trek series will focus on colleges. The exact itinerary is still being planned, but we anticipate holding events at such institutions as:

  • Western Washington University, Bellingham
  • University of Washington, Seattle
  • University of Washington, Tacoma
  • Central Washington University, Ellensburg
  • Eastern Washington University, Cheney
  • Washington State University, Pullman
  • Gonzaga University, Spokane
  • Whitman College, Walla Walla
  • Washington State University, Tri-Cities
  • Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, Yakima
  • Heritage University, Toppenish

Save the Dates for These Meetings

AAWA and Rail Advocacy in the News

  • ​​​​​​​Hells Canyon Journal: "Grassroots Group Works To Reinstate Eastern Oregon Passenger Rail Service"
  • Real Change News: “#Washington state could be squandering a unique opportunity to invest in expanded passenger #rail service with federal funds that were authorized in the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure act, transportation advocates say.”
  • KIMA TV: “Advocates say a new federal study could bring a passenger train route back through Yakima.”
  • Yakima Herald: “Advocates hope federal passenger rail study will include Yakima Valley.” Republished in Seattle Times and Mass Transit Magazine.

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