The Oregon Department of Transportation’s open house on Nov. 7, explaining their passenger rail survey, exposed failures to ask the right questions and include crucial data that will be presented to our elected officials to decide the future of rail travel in the Willamette Valley.
The survey presents four options for rail corridors between Albany and Eugene; the lowest favorably ranked provides service to Corvallis and Junction City.
The hired consultants did not conduct any surveys of Corvallis residents or college students to ascertain if they would use passenger service; the survey assumes rail service to Corvallis would eliminate service to Albany instead of serving both cities; the survey does not include service to Junction City nor did it survey residents of Junction City.
In addition, they did not prepare future ridership forecasts to be presented during the open house, stating “We are working on that” and “We’ll have it next month.”
The Nov. 7 meeting was the last opportunity for public input on the survey.
The consultants ruled out high-speed rail because Washington state is not building the necessary infrastructure, and Oregon trains will traverse the entire corridor to British Columbia. Therefore the only improvement that can be made to rail travel in the Willamette Valley is serving more people.
Instead of looking at the future need for passenger service, the consultants limited their scope to the current service and assumed residents between Eugene and Albany will have no need for rail service.
Former railroad conductor