WASHINGTON ASSOCIATION OF RAIL PASSENGERS
January 12th, 2002
Meeting Place: the University Plaza Hotel
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS PRESENT: Stuart Adams, Jim Hamre, Noel Hancock, Robert Lawrence, Paul Scott, Rocky Shay, Eleanor Stewart, J. Craig Thorpe, Tony Trifiletti, Warren Yee
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Lloyd Flem
OTHERS: Bertha Eades, Glen Eades, Dennie Chelemedos, Jim Holley, Mark Lawrence, Zack Willhoite, Robert Rohrer, Louis Musso, Dale Menchhofer, Dr. Takaharu Araki, Jim Cusick, Steve Spear
President Tony Trifiletti called the meeting to order at 1PM. He reviewed the plan for lunch, went over the agenda and offered ideas on where to meet this year. He then recessed the meeting for lunch.
Mr. Trifiletti reconvened the meeting at 1:34PM. He said a rough draft of the rail summit was available. He called it a success, although TRAC wasn’t there. He said the new management of TRAC has cancelled merger talks with RAILPAC. But California Governor Davis is doing much for rail.
Mr. Trifiletti noted that the Amtrak Reform Council has come up with recommendations and Railway Age says it’s time to liquidate Amtrak, since it has no political capital left. The United Transportation Union says freight railroads are thinking of taking passenger trains back outside the Northeast with certain conditions. NS & UP are studying. KCS’s Mike Haverty wants a public-private partnership. CN might do it with tax rebates and tax credits. Our own Hal Cooper believes you CAN have hot freights with passenger cars. The UTU is saying fund Amtrak fully or let it go. Mr. Trifiletti asked Warren Yee for his take on this, which he’d sent out. Laughs as Mr. Trifiletti noted that Mr. Yee had sent it out without having read it. Mr. Trifiletti also noted that NARP is still defending Amtrak. He noted Dr Takaharu Araki’s paper on this on the brochure table.
The Portland Joint Meeting is now set for March 23rd.
Mr. Trifiletti noted that Chairman Chuck Mott and Executive Director Lloyd Flem had discussed holding a meeting at Centennial Station, then going to the State Capitol and meeting with representatives or their staffers to urge balanced transportation. He noted that other groups do this. Research to come. A show of hands yielded 8 or 9 people ready to attend. Date not sure yet.
Mr. Trifiletti asked about having an April meeting so close to the Regional. An informal consensus indicated yes. Mr. Trifiletti then sought consensus about continuing to go on the road. Jim Hamre said yes. Mr. Shay suggested having one meeting to the South, one to the North, and one in the East, eliminating one of the four road meetings. Mr. Trifiletti suggested making the South meeting the Joint Meeting. Louis Musso said Ellensburg would like to host this year’s East meeting. Mr. Hamre suggested avoiding June to get away from the college rush. Mr. Trifiletti suggested July. Rocky Shay, noting past weather forecasts for the Cascades, urged sticking with July. Mr. Trifiletti approved. Regarding Everett for the North meeting, Mr. Trifiletti said September might make too long a stretch away from Seattle, with the August Puyallup picnic. Ms. Stewart urged a repeat of Wenatchee for the East meeting. Mr. Trifiletti called that doubtful. Robert Lawrence said few members ride the train to Wenatchee meetings anyway. Mr. Musso noted that the Stampede Pass line is the one that needs rail service. Ellensburg was agreed on by voice vote. The final schedule…February 9th in Seattle, the 2nd Saturday in March in Olympia, then the March 23rd joint meeting. Then the second Saturdays of April, May and June in Seattle, July in Ellensburg, August in Puyallup, September in Seattle, October in Everett, and November and December in Seattle. Seattle meetings will be at the University Plaza Hotel, other locations to be announced later.
Robert Rohrer wondered how the Amtrak Reform Council was appointed. Mr. Hamre gave details. Mr. Rohrer asked about their experience. Mr. Hamre explained that.
BOARD MEETING: With Chairman Chuck Mott absent, President Trifiletti convened the Board. Secretary Shay thanked Steve Spear for service above and beyond the call as Acting Secretary during Mr. Shay’s absence from the December meeting. Mr. Shay then called the roll of the Board, finding a quorum of ten. Noel Hancock moved to approve the December minutes. Mr. Adams seconded. The motion was carried unanimously.
Mr. Hancock then wondered why Oregon has Thruway Buses all over and Washington does not. Mr. Trifiletti asked to hold that for later.
TREASURERS REPORT: Treasurer Robert Lawrence gave the report. Mr. Hamre asked about an 18 hundred dollar expenditure and was told that was for Dr. Ron Sheck’s study. Mr. Lawrence recommended a donation effort to help.
MEMBERSHIP AND MARKETING REPORT: Committee Chairman Robert Lawrence said there were 512 members and mentioned new names. President Trifiletti wondered how we can get as many as 16 inactive members back in. He said no response to E-mails is a bad sign.
Mr. Lawrence noted the December 8th volunteers at Edmonds Station and efforts with Toys for Tots. He will check with Everett for a station event there. He noted that the Tukwila Station now has WashARP brochures.
TRANSIT COMMITTEE REPORT: Chairman Jim Cusick noted the draft EIS on 405…sees discussion in the legislature. Mentioned the Commuter Rail meeting coming up Thursday.
ISSAQUAH TROLLEY: J. Craig Thorpe said the May through December season went well. They are negotiating with people in Dallas to purchase another trolley. They want to get Aspen’s five cars if they sell them. There is money for that. He noted pro-rail efforts by Mr. Cusick and Dr. Sheck…and said Microsoft and others are starting to get
interested in the trolley as a transit project. They are working with King County to get track from Gilman Boulevard to Sammamish State Park, with room for car barns. Corporate grants are possible. Local cities are interested in reopening abandoned routes.
He thanked Mr. Cusick and Mr. Yee and said Eastside landowners seem to want trolleys but not trails! But Glen Eades said the idea is to kill the trails with the trolleys, then kill the trolleys. He said there’s actually room for both. Mr. Thorpe also said theYakima trolley car now in Issaquah may be going back in May.
One member mentioned brochures for the Amtrak Historical Society meeting in Portland. Oregon also plans to reopen the Portland-Astoria line by 2005. This historic trolley is running now. Also, Oregon is coming up with a rail policy plan, updated from 1994. Also mentioned was the Montana Rockies Daylight.
Paul Scott asked about the meeting schedule. He said there’s a place East of Spokane in Opportunity, a tavern-lounge along the BNSF main line called Curly’s Dining Car Lounge. But we must all be over 21, a problem for Zack Willhoite. Mr. Scott said the restaurant is managed by the wife of an Amtrak engineer.
Mr. Trifiletti said it’s time for a form letter urging members to write lawmakers, customizing the letter to match the need. He mentioned Representative Zarelli’s call to eliminate trains.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT: Lloyd Flem said he’s moving to Centralia, but his office will stay in Olympia. A lobbyist is renting Mr. Flem’s old house.
Mr. Flem congratulated President Trifiletti and Dr. Sheck for successfully representing Oregon and Washington at the ral summit. He worried that California is losing advocates due to all the progress. He said the Caltrans Rail Office head dislikes advocates. He said Amtrak West CEO Gil Mallery was at the summit on all of its days. Mr. Trifiletti said Mr. Mott suggested getting the ARPS together in case the Builder must be saved. He said ARPS of 29 states could be involved, depending on what appens to Amtrak. Mr. Flem praised WSDOT’s Ken Uznanski for watching this and meeting soon with the Bush Administration and others concerning the futureof rail passenger service. Mr. Flem said the summit concentrated on eliminating bickering. Several people represented Sounder, wishing there could be a WashARP for commuter rail. Mr. Flem said Sounder HAS ignored Intercity rail, but won’t any more. Referring to an earlier question from Mr. Hancock, Mr. Flem said Oregon has so many buses because that Bob Krebs of Oregon’s DOT used to run bus tours. He added that buses do help.
Mr. Flem said WSDOT’s Jim Slakey praised WashARP at the summit, saying ARPs are valuable to DOTs. David Beal from the Washington Commuter Community believes Sounder is doing fine. Mr. Hamre said riders are from CARS, not BUSES. Mr. Trifiletti said we need a tailwind to push things along.
Mr. Flem quoted AORTA’s Dan McFarling as saying AORTA is now a balanced transportation group. WashARP is oriented more toward intercity rail.
Mr. Flem said TRAC is seeking a new Executive Director…and thank God for Gray Davis. Mr. Trifiletti said Washinton has only Governor Locke and Tim Eyman.
Mr. Flem said Amtrak would be OK if it were run by its Western Business Unit. He thinks Amtrak West is slipping a little, but not as badly as airlines and buses.
Mr. Flem said AORTA and ORE-DOT are working more closely together on the ral summit. Mr. Flem said Mr. Sheck spoke of helping defeat Initiative 745 and reaching out to environmentalists. Mr. Mallery said to always keep the message simple.
Conclusion….everyone must work together to overturn policies that punish rail. There’s now an effort to get another summit in May or June in Sacramento.
Mr. Flem met with WashDOT’s finance person on the prevailing wage and what it costs. One estimate from opponents came to 250 million dollars. But the DOT could only find 25 million dollars and said that can’t solve transportation problems.
Mr. Flem also met with Andrew Johnson, Governor Locke’s transportation assistant. Johnson is pro-rail, but the Governor’s proposed budget is heavy on roads. Mr. Flem did not argue ratios, but noted that 80 per cent of rail capital money is in HSIA. The budget is also thin on rail operations but the legislature will tweak. An excellent PI editorial said the legislature, not the voters, must decide and must not worry about Tim Eyman. It also noted that everyday gasoline price differences are far greater than the proposed 9-cent gas tax increase. Also, the AAA says it now costs 35 to 40 cents a mile to operate a vehicle…and infrastructure is a penny, making roads a ridiculous bargain. But Mr. Flem said the Democrats have no choice to take this to the people.
Mr. Hamre asked about Plan "B". Mr. Flem said the people will suffer, and all we can do is fight for flexibility in the package. He said he might even campaign against the package if it is roads-only. He told Mr. Johnson that the Governor should stop saying "gas tax for roads". Mr. Johnson said the Governor is just trying to get people to understand clearly that the gas tax can only be used for roads.
On the Amtrak Reform Council, Mr. Flem said railway labor is being narrow-minded and Wendell Cox simply hates all passenger trains, period, and privatizers forget about capital investments. But ARC at least has the issue on national news. He said Congress will probably ignore its recommendations. Mr. Flem wants administrative changes, but doesn’t expect Congress to approve anything radical.
Mr Flem said a meeting next week would include Bruce Chapman of the Discovery Institute and Slade Gorton. Mr. Flem is a member of Discovery.
On Washington Fruit Express, potential is not realized but the program is important politically. If it fails, Mr. Flem says Clyde Ballard will move against the State Rail Program.
Also, the State Rail Office is reaching out to determine how Amtrak’s Cascades can help save small towns, with a meeting in Centralia. The Centralia Chronicle made it a lead story, even though it endorsed Initiative 745. Mr. Flem says even conservative Centralia wants more trains. He says he will urge WashARPers in small towns to work with local businesses.
The State Transportation Commission met recently. Commissioner Kargianis wants more roads, but is not opposed to trains. The DOT told him that highway projects don’t have funding. Transportation professionals know more roads won’t work. Mr. Flem said the rail office did a good job of fielding questions and also asked commissioners to take away unneeded study funding. Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald wants the East-West Rail Passenger Study buried and to concentrate instead on the freight rail program.
Mr. Flem said 4th quarter Cascades Corridor ridership was down between 3 and 4 per cent. People actually think they’re safer in cars. Rideship was still up for the year. Mr. Scott asked about North Corridor ridership. Mr. Flem wasn’t sure.
Mr. Flem said NARP is still urging Congress to pass HSIA. He agrees, but not sure about NARP’s support of status-quo Amtrak. He says nobody talks about money-losing anything else. Mr. Hamre mentioned the airline bailout.
Mr. Flem said Canadians want us to try to help save the E & N Dayliner. But he’s worried about Americans getting involved in Canadian internal affairs. He said Canadians suggest approaching Canada as tourists. The board agreed to this informally.
Mr. Flem mentioned that the Coalition for Safe Highways opposes big trucks. They want us to work with them. Mr. Flem says he’ll do that. He also mentioned that the Executive Director of the Coalition didn’t know Talgos existed. He noted that education never ends.
MISCELLANY: Mr. Hamre mentioned the King Street Station delay. Dr. Sheck is in charge of that project or the DOT now. The problem is how to get more tracks. The waiting room could be moved upstairs, but there are historical issues. BNSF is suddenly interested in air rights. There’s now a 2-to-3 month time out. Mr. Hamre expressed displeasure with Deputy Transportation Secretary Ron Okamoto for saying that everyone’s at the table, when passengers clearly aren’t.
Mr. Hamre also said the Everett Station dedication might be the 4th of February. Mr. Lawrence said there should be a WashARP table there.
Mr. Hamre said Portland Union Station is getting parking garages, platforms for thruway buses and better access. Mr. Rohrer wondered where they were getting the money. Mr. Hamre said its from the Portland Development Commission.
OPEN MIKE: Mr. Trifiletti opened the floor. Mr. Rohrer wondered what’s blocking the HSIA vote. Mr. Trifiletti answered "the war". Mr. Hamre said there’s a lack of 60 votes needed to force a vote in the Senate. Mr. Flem blamed benign neglect. He noted the airline bailout was voted on in minutes. Mr. Hamre said America West gets low interest loans.
Mr. Rohrer then asked about the Amtrak self-sufficiency deadline. Mr. Flem said it’ll probably be dropped, but we won’t lose passenger rail. It must be done by December. Mr. Hamre noted the demise of the liquidation deadline. He said advocates must raise awareness.
Mr. Trifiletti said airlines were regarded as too big to fail, and Amtrak could have gotten money under similar circumstances. Mr. Hamre noted Ford paid back its bailout money.
He also mentioned Enron. But Mr. Trifiletti said President Bush did not save Enron despite big campaign contributions from it. Mr. Hamre said "so far". Mr. Trifiletti said he thinks Enron’s accounting firm Arthur Andersen is finished, but payoffs will have worked if the culprits aren’t in jail years from now. Mr. Trifiletti joked that he’s from New Jersey and "understands such things" (laughs).
Robert Lawrence said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has a relative involved with airlines. Mr. Chelemedos mentioned Boeing.
Mr. Trifiletti noted a big defense measure, Agile Port, with tens of billions for rail infrastructure.
Mr. Hamre compared the cost of switching Trident Submarines to other uses with the cost of properly funding Amtrak. Mr. Trifiletti said one Agile Port is Bremerton. There was a mention in the background of Austin, Texas (laughs).
Robert Lawrence then suggested starting a grass roots movement for Sounder. Mr. Hamre suggested WashARP Member Mark Sawyer for that.
Mr. Scott asked if all Sounder Stations are all built. Mr. Hamre and Mr. Cusick filled him in. But he, Mr. Lawrence and others said no one’s aware of the Tukwila station. Mr. Cusick asked Mr. Hamre if he’s heard anything about a survey of who’s riding Sounder. He did not.
Mr. Lawrence said Tukwila is doing better. Mr. Hamre said some people park vanpool vans there. Mr. Cusick and Mr. Lawrence said there must be connections to the airport. Mr. Hamre said that’s done with Trinity Railway Express. Mr. Flem said Metro is not cooperating here. Mr. Hamre wondered if there are enough trains to make it practical. Mr. Yee said the gate at Tukwila is often locked. Mr. Trifiletti mentioned similar problems with bus service in Edmonds. Mr. Yee blamed Tim Eyman. Mr. Trifiletti said the bus problem predates Mr. Eyman. There followed a brief discussion of Metro schedules between Mr. Yee and Mr. T.
Mr. Yee then mentioned transit open houses coming up, including a meeting on Tuesday January 22nd on the UW Campus.
Dr. Araki discussed transport on the UW campus and connectivity problems.
Mr. Chelemedos mentioned the new Skytrain line opening in Vancouver, BC and also progress with rail in Portland…compared with the usual NO progress in Seattle. He did add that the Monorail has opponents, too.
Mr. Cusick says all this puts the arguments in front of the public.
Mr. Trifiletti adjourned the meeting at 3:19PM.
Rocky Shay, Secretary
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