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August 1998 General Meeting Minutes

August 1998 General Meeting Minutes

Washington Association of Rail Passengers Board of Directors' Meeting August 8, 1998 Hamre Estate, Puyallup, Washington

Attendees Executive Committee Members:

Chuck Mott, President; Ellen Barton, Secretary; Jim Hamre, Newsletter Editor; Lloyd Flem, Executive Director; Hans Mueller, Treasurer; Mike Skehan, VP-Commuter Rail.

Board of Directors: Robert Whelan, Stuart Adams, Steve Spear, Dale Menchhofer, Eleanor Stewart, Warren Yee, Roger Mumm, Paul Scott Noel Hancock, Rocky Shay, Stephanie Weber, Tony Trifiletti Members and Guests: Dennie Chelemedos, Jo Donaldson, Steve Donaldson

Meeting Minutes

The meeting was called to order at 1:45 p.m. by President Chuck Mott. The agenda was approved with three additional announcements, as noted.

The June meeting minutes were corrected to change the Eastern Washington report to "Ephrata" rather than "Wenatchee". With that correction, the minutes were approved unanimously.

The treasurer's report showed high income with low expenses, partly due to seasonal fluctuations. One new member joined. A detailed report was filed with the Secretary and is available for interested Board members upon request.

Oregon's Rail Advocacy Group, AORTA, met with officers of WashARP in Centralia, at their request, with the purpose of discussing regional cooperation in regard to intercity rail such as the Pioneer, the need for special service for the Salt Lake City Olympics, and other obvious areas of joint interest.

WashARP's officers reported mixed success in reaching agreement on strategies of cooperation. While AORTA excels in its broad technical knowledge and strong, enduring committment to passenger rail, it has not forged the needed relationships in the corridors of power and money in order to effect change over the long term. WashARP officers illustrated the successful strategy of educating decision-makers and working within the political process by the example of Washington's recent successes in the passenger rail arena.

The effectiveness of any cooperative work with AORTA will be impinged by any reluctance on AORTA's part to match the "praise and push" strategy. Mike Skehan reported that the meeting may have shifted AORTA's thinking toward the WashARP model, a direction which will lead to our eventual cooperation.

Bellingham WashARP membership growth (by one) is the result of an outreach strategy spear-headed by Northern Division member, Ellen Barton. Reporting on a summer-long committment to educate local Amtrak riders about WashARP and the need for a second daily run on the Mt. Baker International, she described the steps as follows:

  1. Target high ridership train times to talk to riders at the terminal. Friday evening and Saturday morning were prime.
  2. Prepare a petition for signature in order to both garner support for the issue but also to generate a list of local interested folks.
  3. Give a WashARP brochure to everyone, with a local name and phone number added to it.

The second train petition was circulated and showed close to 400 signatures. Suggestions for further action with this base list of supporters were:

Committee & Section Reports:

Conference & Outreach report from Tony Trifiletti indicated that the speakers for the October 15 conference have been booked and confirmed, for the most part. The brochure for the mailing was nearing completion, while mailing procedures would need to be clarified with Jim Hamre. Bruce Agnew of the Discovery Institute has been cooperating with WashARP.

Commuter Rail Section report by Mike Skehan indicated that attendance at the July Section meeting was sparse. [Ed. note: I only wrote "incremental" here: the implications are vast.]

Executive Director's Report: Senator Gil Carmichael envisions a project he calls "Interstate II," a national rail network to rival the Interstate Highway system. He was appointed to the Amtrak Reform Committee, along with Paul Weyrich (conservative, pro-rail) and Bruce Chapman (evidently appointed due to politics, over the talents of Jack Martin).

DJ Mitchell, of Burlington Northern Sante Fe is extremely supportive of Amtrak, a surprising though not inappropriate stance for a freight rail company. Union Pacific, on the other hand, was not the target of any of his praise.

Senator Prince still believes that passenger rail will hold up freight, despite the fact that only evidence to the contrary exists.

Karen Schmidt, whose support for passenger rail faltered briefly during the spring, appears to have returned to the WashARP camp.

The Senate has approved $555 million in budget allocations for Amtrak, including maintenance and capital. Those congress-people who supported the funding deserve our thanks. Frank Wolfe is now a rail supporter.

Bud Schuster, Jennifer Dunn and Jack Metcalf are "in" with the leadership and are able to bring "pork" home. The line item $2.3 billion for rail infrastructure may allow some improvement funds to find their way here to Washington.

Cascadia Conference Report: "State the facts boldly and the outcome will guarantee that the opposing position will move some amount toward you." [Ed. Note: Mike Skehan articulated this fine sentiment, though my notes neglect to indicate in what context]

The Talgo Trainset Debut for the first set manufactured in Washington, will be carried out with some fanfare. A dedication will take place on November 9, and that set probably will be put into service on the Northeast Corridor. The next trainset will be dedicated on November 30 with a first ride media event on December 1. Volunteers along the Northwest Corridor are needed to help staff events at stations along the corridor. The fourth trainset will be out in mid-December and will tour the entire country.

Who will own King Street Station? Discussion is now underway and there are preliminary indications that the non-profit group "Friends of King Street Station" will wind up owning the building. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has indicated that it does not want to become the owner.

Various and Sundry: Oregon Department of Transportation may get federal funds from the Transportation Efficiency Act (TEA21).

Through-way busses (connecting service by Amtrak for non-rail-served localities) run at a financial break-even point (almost), meaning that it is possible rail could be subsidizing highways.

WashARP's 501(c)3 status is up for renewal in December and that action has been delegated to Vice President East, Jim Neal.

The Public Transportation and Rail Conference will take place in Tacoma from August 25 - 27; members are encouraged to attend.

The Livable Communities Fair will be held in Seattle on September 7th; environmentally benign transportation options are an integral part of Sustainable or Livable Communities.

Upcoming Meetings:

October 15, 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, University Plaza Ballroom, Seattle NOTE: no regular meeting in October: attend the Conference instead. November 14, 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, [University Plaza, Seattle?) December 5, 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm, (location to be announced)

The meeting adjourned at about 3:20 pm.

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Last Update: 01/04/00
Web Author: Warren Y. Yee