As part of the Amtrak Cascades service, customers can travel between Seattle and Bellingham on a single charge.
WASHINGTON – The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Amtrak are replacing a diesel-powered bus with an electric vehicle (EV) on the Amtrak Cascades route. Daily mid-day buses provide additional connectivity beyond the morning and evening train service between Seattle and Bellingham. The Cascades Thruway buses also stop in Everett and Mount Vernon and connect with trains heading to and from stations south of Seattle. As the first-ever EV in the Amtrak National Network, the bus — owned and operated by MTRWestern — can make the nearly 200-mile roundtrip on one single charge.
“At Amtrak, we strive to give our passengers reliable, comfortable, and sustainable travel options. By incorporating environmental considerations into our current operations and as we work with our partners to reach more of America, we continue to make Amtrak an even ‘greener’ mode of transportation,” said Amtrak Sustainability Director, Kara Oldhouser.
“WSDOT is pleased to be the first in the country to offer electric bus service on an intercity route that’s part of Amtrak’s National Network. Amtrak Cascades trains already operate with locomotives that meet the EPA’s highest standards – reducing emissions by 86% after replacing older locomotives in 2017. Adding a bus to our fleet that is powered by clean energy further affirms our commitment to offer environmentally friendly travel options in the Pacific Northwest,” said Washington Secretary of Transportation Roger Millar.
MTRWestern contracted with Amtrak to provide a more sustainable connection to travelers. An ideal trip length for an electric bus, the connector will save approximately 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel per year, cutting CO2 emissions by 109 tons annually. The charging hub, installed at MTRWestern’s Seattle facilities, sits on land once used to store large petroleum tanks.
“The future is electric, and we are committed to delivering carbon-free intercity and group transportation throughout the Pacific Northwest. We consider the collaboration on this route a transformational step towards even greater EV regional transit,” said MTRWestern President Jeremy Butzlaff.
WSDOT seeks to operate an efficient, high-quality intercity passenger rail service while being sensitive to community and environmental impacts and business costs. In a continual push to provide efficient, safe and cost-effective alternatives to higher emissions travel, Amtrak Cascades is adding even more trains to its service later this year. This announcement follows restoration of pre-pandemic service levels, including the popular daily roundtrip train between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC.
Introducing the first-ever EV bus into the daily Thruway schedule helps Amtrak advance its pledge to become net zero by 2045. The company is examining other routes within the National Network for EVs and alternative fuels.
Amtrak released the Fiscal Year 2022 Sustainability Report in June which details how Amtrak reduced diesel usage and air emissions alongside increased purchases of carbon-free energy. The results support a company-wide climate commitment to consider the environment in all business decisions.