AMTRAK station future on hold – as Olympia backs out

January 21st, 2011 by Ken

The future of Centennial Station, the AMTRAK station on the Yelm Highway is at stake.

Currently the station is funded under an interlocal agreement among the cities of Yelm, Lacey, Tumwater and Olympia, as well as Thurston County and the Port of Olympia.  Intercity Transit operates the station,   The annual budget is $60,000.

The station is staffed with volunteers.

Olympia has notified the other partners, that it will not fund its $11,000 share,  citing financial problems.   A clause in the interlocal agreement allows any city to opt out of the contract if it is suffering economic problems.   The city says that operating the station is not an essential city service.

Intercity Transit head Mike Harbour will schedule a meeting shortly to determine the next step.   “If they do pull out, we’ll have to determine the next step,” he said.  “The other partners will have to pick up the shortfall,  decide if it should come from transit funds, or if it should be closed.”

The $60,000 budget goes primarily for janitorial, landscaping and utility costs.  Volunteers who provide information and directions, receive no pay.

“It would be a shame to close the station,” Harbour said.  “It is recognized as unique because it is staffed by volunteers.”

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