Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak’s Niagara Rainbow’

NY Wants Canadian Customs on its Side of Border

January 17, 2020

Officials in Niagara Falls, New York, are pushing for Canadian customs officials to begin screening passengers there who are traveling into Canada.

The station, which opened in 2016, has space for that purpose, but the Canadian customs service has preferred to screen passengers at its facility in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Amtrak’s New York-Toronto Maple Leaf makes stops in Niagara Falls on both sides of the border.

U.S. officials say two stations are about the length of four football fields apart, but the Amtrak timetable shows them as being two miles apart.

U.S. customs inspects passengers entering the United States on the U.S. side of the Niagara River gorge.

On the U.S. side, Niagara Falls officials see the matter as economic development issue.

“This next step is great for economic development, not to mention expanding our leisure and tourism industry,” Niagara Falls Mayor Robert M. Restaino said.

The United States and Canada signed an agreement allowing pre-clearance last year, but it hasn’t been implemented.

The Canada Border Services Agency in an email to the Buffalo News said the agency does not have any pre-clearance operations in the United States

“However, Canada is exploring the potential for Canadian pre-clearance operations in both the traveler and commercial streams. Unfortunately, we cannot speak to the specific timelines or locations at this time,” the email statement said.

The Maple Leaf schedule allots one hour and 12 minutes in Niagara Falls, Ontario, for Canadian customs inspection, and one hour and 43 minutes in Niagara Falls, New York, for U.S. customs screening.

During Amtrak’s 2019 fiscal year, the passenger carrier handled an average of 95 people per day in Niagara Falls, New York.

In Niagara Falls, Ontario, an average of 34 people per day boarded or disembarked from the Maple Leaf.

Michigan Rail Passenger Advocates Working to Get Amtrak-VIA Bus Connection Detroit-Windsor

April 25, 2017

Michigan rail passengers advocates are working with Amtrak and VIA Rail Canada to revive connecting service between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, although that might not necessarily be rail service.

In a campaign that has been dubbed “mind the gap,” the advocates are talking with both railroads about establishing a direct bus connection.

Passengers who now want to connect between Amtrak and VIA must either take a cab or ride three local transit buses.

The advocates noted that the border crossing at Detroit is the busiest between the two countries.

Until 2003, Amtrak and VIA hosted a Chicago-Toronto train known as the International that operated via Flint and Port Huron, Michigan.

A Detroit-New York train, the Niagara Rainbow, operated via Windsor between October 1974 and January 1979, ending when the states of New York and Michigan ended their funding of the train.

An article posted on the website of the National Association of Railroad Passengers said that VIA is in active discussions with bus companies to provide a “bus bridge” between the VIA station in Windsor and the Detroit Amtrak station.

The service may begin by late 2017. The Michigan advocates hope that if the bus connection proves successful that it might provide an impetus for resuming rail service between Detroit and Windsor.