Saturday is National Train Day with events scheduled in all 50 states, including in Seattle at the beautifully restored King Street Station (above). I was a guest on this topic today on KUOW's The Conversation With Ross Reynolds, but time being what it is, much more needs to be said. Some of this may be familiar to Rogue readers, but it can't be stated often enough.
1. Seattle is better served by passenger rail than most American cities. It is the terminus of two long-distance Amtrak trains, the Coast Starlight and the Empire Builder. I've ridden both and they are the best way to see the country. In addition, it is served by the Amtrak Cascades, a regional corridor with multiple trains a day south to Portland and Eugene and north to Vancouver, B.C. You can enjoy a relaxing, spacious ride alongside spectacular scenery, have a meal or adult beverage, and work using onboard wi-fi. Sound Transit operates commuter rail via its Sounder service north and south in the metropolitan area. Finally, Seattle has both light rail and one streetcar line with more to come. Phoenix is by far the largest American city with no passenger rail service at all (although it has — WBIYB — light rail).
2. Passenger rail is the most environmentally friendly way to move large numbers of people, an advantage that matters even more if we're going to reduce greenhouse gases associated with climate change. Cars are terrible polluters, but so are airplanes. Trains also help ease congestion on highways and airline routes, as well as reducing the safety costs associated with cars and freeways. Commuter rail helps ease the horrible traffic of rush hours that impedes productivity, belches pollution and causes costly wrecks.