Train from U.S. to Vancouver days from cancellation
Vancouver's mayor and the governor of Washington state are calling for the Canadian government to ditch a proposed customs charge and save the second passenger train running between Vancouver and Portland.
Beginning Nov. 1, the Canadian Border Services Agency wants to charge Amtrak $550,000 a year to provide extra customs officers in Vancouver to service the evening Cascades train.
If a deal isn't reached by Friday, Amtrak will pull the train at the end of the month.
Mayor Gregor Robertson made a plea Tuesday for the government to cancel the fee.
"We provide those customs, border services for all the cars that come into the country and all the airplanes that come into the country. I think its odd the second train is somehow pulled out and getting billed for being an additional cost -- that doesn't make sense to me," he told CTV News.
Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said the charge doesn't make sense to her either.
"It's very disappointing that the Canadian Border Services Agency sees the need to impose a border clearance fee on Washington state, in effect killing the second Amtrak train to Vancouver," she wrote in a statement.
Amtrak added the second train before the 2010 Winter Olympics, but only after the CBSA waived the $1,500 daily fee it was originally demanding to cover the costs of processing passengers.
The second train is estimated to contribute about $11 million to B.C.'s economy every year, according to Stephen Regan, president of the B.C. Council of Tourism Associations.
"That could be a little bit higher, depending on length of stay and whether they're coming up for a hockey game or whether there's a shopping opportunity that's unique to Vancouver," he said.
Neither the CBSA nor Vic Toews, the minister responsible for the border agency, would comment on the dispute Tuesday.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Shannon Paterson