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June 2008 Meeting Minutes

Carolina Association for Passenger Trains

Golden Coral Restaurant, Raleigh, NC

(Approved 10/11/08)



June 23, 2008                                                                                      Open - 1:14 PM


Present: Martin Wheeler, Brad Schultz, Bill Cole, Gene Kirkland, Robert Johnson, Art Peterson, Jim Davis, Ernest  Robl, Dan Smith, Ken Davis, Charles Hiatt, Jim Stevenson, Bill Muller, Jim McManus, Ed Locklin, Don Stewart & Phil Astwood


1. Brad Schultz  reported on transit planning for the Triangle Area (A full report is available at ). Based in part on the success in Charlotte, the transit plan had five primary goals:

1.      An Enhanced Bus System at the “Charlotte Level” including expresses

2.      Circulators

3.      Light Rail – 56 miles were planned

4.      Information from the NC Commuter Rail Study to serve as a foundation

5.      Funding from a sales tax and/or vehicle tax. Assume no federal funding

After considerable effort, the funding did not materialize. With present rider ship up 15%, rapid action is necessary. Possible choices at this point are:

1.      Encourage separate areas to enhance transit and eventually link all together

2.      Work for improvement in federal funding formula

3.      Support politicians who support transit

4.      Educate the public as to value of transit

5.      Begin to organize businesses and other facilities to surround and support transit routes


2. Secretary’s Report – Bob Bischoff, former secretary, mailed minutes from the April 5 meeting in Charlotte and they were not available for consideration at the meeting. Consensus was that in the future minutes should be sent via e-mail.


3. Treasurer’s Report - Gene Kirkland distributed the treasurer’s report. It showed a total balance of $13,893.33. Gene asked that we note that 51 members had been transferred to “inactive”. He will send renewal notices in the future to try and cut down on this loss.


4. CAPT Newsletter – Gene Kirkland said the newsletter will go to printer in next two days. It will contain information on the DOT fleet. Martin Wheeler said he has received a contact from Malcolm Kenton, a student with rail interest who would like to write for the newsletter. He will send contact info to Gene. Malcolm also offered to help with website. Though we currently have someone to manage the site, Gene suggested we might need a better host and Malcolm might help with this. To increase visibility, Gene said he would get copies of the newsletter into Amtrak and DOT stations. He also will get some copies to museum at Hamlet.


5. SC Resolution – Martin reported that the Resolution drive is set up. We have a list of possible recipients similar to drive in NC. We are waiting for brochure to be finished to accompany resolution. The SC Legislature meets January to May and we should get resolution out so that reps hear about it before they get back.


6. Brochure – Don Stewart reported that he has a final copy, but it contains errors. It is also necessary to update the cover photo and update the maps. With current congressional action, this may be right time for brochure to stay in date for a while. Don has reviewed it and will try for corporate sponsors (Bombardier & Siemens). These already sponsor receptions. Gene suggested Herzog and CATS. It was suggested that the brochure be handed out at fairs in the Carolinas and at train shows.


7.SC Rail – Jim Frierson sent the following revision of this item - Richland County Council was to consider a proposal to put on the ballot for November, 2008 a referendum for the voters to approve a one cent sales tax to last for eight years.  This sales tax would provide funds for roads (60% of the proceeds); transit (25% of the proceeds); and sidewalks, bike trails, and greenways (15% of the proceeds).  At the end of eight years, the voters could renew the sales tax for another eight years to continue the funding.  Unfortunately, the county council voted against putting the proposal on the ballot so now the voters will not get to have their say.  Commuter rail is still receiving serious consideration in the Midlands and the Lowcountry (Charleston) regions of SC.  Both regions want to take the studies that have already been done to the next level and seek funding for pre-implementation plans.  Still a long way off before any steel wheels roll, however.  It is a problem that SC has no funds to purchase abandoned rail corridors as they become available.  A recently completed statewide multi-modal transportation study identified rail corridors that have potential for future commuter rail use but SC is unable to begin a “rail-banking” program similar to the one that NC has.’  


8.Charlotte Multimodal Center - Martin reported that DOT will have a master developer by end of year and has legislative permission to form joint partnerships. It will try to move Greyhound into new facility so new center can be built where bus station now stands. The Center will have house tracks for Amtrak and thus high level platforms. Current siding size limits length of trains thus DOT has bought more land for holding all types of trains. Satellite station considered at UNCC, but this may lead to problem requests for other stations.


9.HR 6003 – Don distributed handouts and reported that the House passed the bill to reauthorize Amtrak for the next 5 years. This is best funding yet, but still less than needed. Funds are included for Amtrak and state initiatives also for high speed rail partnerships. There is also a way to use money spent in the past as a 50% match for new projects. Senate and House will have to reconcile and form new bill. Bush sent out a very stiff anti-Amtrak letter threatening a veto, but bill turned out to be veto-proof. SC had 4-2 pro Amtrak vote as did NC. This bill only authorizes money, it still must be appropriated.


10.  Fayetteville Multi-Modal Center – Don reported that Fayetteville is about to select a site for a multi-model center. Hope is for it to be a public/private partnership. Fayetteville area military population is expected to increase significantly as personnel from closed bases are moved to the area.


11.   Third Frequency for Piedmont/Carolinian – Gene reported new train will have baggage/food combine so it can have 6 coaches. It will have approximately a noon departure from each city. Should begin in about one year. The roster for the train is in newsletter. It will have 3 engines, 2 combines, 8 coaches.


12.  Next Meeting – August 11 in Greensboro.                                     Adjourn - 4:50 PM