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January 1997 Minutes

January 1997 Minutes

Minutes from the January WashARP meeting were formally approved at the February 1997 Meeting.

Washington Association of Rail Passengers:
Board of Directors Meeting January 11, 1997
Rose's Highway Inn. Des Moines, Washington

The meeting wee called to order at 12:25 p.m. by Chuck Mott. President. The agenda was approved.

The motion to approve the meeting minutes for December 1. 1996. were approved unanimously.

Treasurer Hans Mueller indicated that membership is down and that the group's 1996 year-end account balance is down significantly from the end of 1995. Volunteers were solicited to call non-renewing members to encourage them to renew. Indicative of me high commitment level of members is the fact that 20% have given $50 or more.

Executive Director, Lloyd Flem reviewed Analysis of Transportation Policy, a book by Dr Anthony Pearl of the University of Calgary. Dr. Pearl's analysis showed that Countries such as those in Western Europe and central Asia which have advanced rail systems, also have populations with a higher acceptance of centralized bureaucracies. Even Portugal and Slovakia showed this trait. However, the U.S.'s populist and anarchistic mien keep resistance high to this type of organizational structure, a trait which contributes to lack of support for advanced rail. Interestingly the independent populist streak was considerably less in the U.S.. About 40 years ago when the highway system was proposed and began its rapacious growth. If new highway projects were proposed today in the same "buy up anything in its path" manner that was carried our 4O years ago, resistance from "Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY)" interests would be nigh; as high as they are for rail projects currently. Dr. Pearl's analysis also shows long range and broad benefits which improve whole regions. In the realm of politics where, as the saying goes, all politics are local, it is harder to persuade neighborhoods (and their representatives) that me benefits are real, tangible and local. Even in New Jersey which has the best rail service in me country, the New jersey Association of Rail Passengers reports that there is great hostility to rail from those who would say "not in my back yard.

Congratulations to WashARP for being the top group in the country advocating for passenger rail. We must beware that passenger rail issues may not be the top priority for legislators and their constituents in the next two year term, but we must continue to keep the issues on the table with a piece of the budget.

Spokane Transportation Conference is now called the State Public Transportation and Rail Conference. The word "rail" has been added this year after much persuasive effort. Encourage .II interested members to plan to attend and to send agenda ideal and concerns to DOT's Renee Nubgaard.

Regional Amtrak; service Portland to Eugene has not resumed yet since the storms and slides. The Pioneer and the Empire Builder are experiencing delays due to slides. The Coast Starlight will nor resume service until February.

Commuter Rail Specialist for the Regional Transit Authority. David Beal. outlined the exciting year ahead for the RTA

The RTA begins by selecting a banking services contract starting with a $20 million line or credit and with; over the course of me project. 52 billion coming through the account. This is the largest project in the country for transit. The first two hires will be new directors (1) commuter rail (2) bus program. Later (July?), a third director for light rail will come on board with the expectation that 100 staffers will be working by the end of 1997. NOT the usual planning. operations: a project scheme, rather than separate business departments. Commuter Rail project should compromise approximately 20% of project. Augmenting the staff will be approximately 100 to 150 consultants employed directly by the RTA and housed with the project. The eventual staff level is to be 18. Maintenance, operations, security, ticketing are expected to be contracted our. Public sector administration of these activities has tended toward inefficiency over tune.

Executive Director. Bob White, is looking to action rather man a long planning phase with service scheduled for 1999. Negotiations will be required with the freight rail companies which are asking for 300 million for capacity improvements where the RTA budgeted for 200 million.

WashARP's participation is welcomed in communicating with the public. RTA is partnering with DOT and Ports to help leverage accomplishments. The office will move nearer to King Street Station.

State Transportation Secretary, Sid Morrison, met with WashARP re: strategies for state legislator meetings. encouraging work on individual legislators to generate support for upcoming rail budget. Oil and gas lobby is pushing for road. We will need to cite specifics in order to counter their arguments, and grass roots work.

Jim Slakey congratulated WashARP's President and Executive Director for their good work. While this will be a difficult year legislatively, it is encouraging to note that a majority of stare legislators are in the RTA area and it majority of voters supported other than highways. It is not insignificant that this is the largest public works public Transportation program in the country. DOT is an integral part of RTA. There's a ton of work for everyone.

The initial phases of a seismic retrofit and historic preservation for King Street Station will start construction in March. Bus interchange will be part of me terminal, though Greyhound/Trailways will not be located there. Working with the legislature for funding.

Volunteering at Centennial station has increased. It will be important to publicize the increased ridership within community. Trains Magazine article gives nigh marks to Washington implementation plan. Transit will be the key to any regional bid for Olympics 2008.

Ken Uznanski spoke about track improvements and rebuilds for increased speed potential. For speed increases, the only non-implemented requests are in British Columbia. BN has invested in rail improvements in Canada and has met with Transport Canada with no result yet. A study is underway to increase use of tilt capability to decrease run rime by 15 to 20 minutes. Amtrak is committed to improved engineering. DOT plans to leverage activities with the RTA and other partners to increase impact with legislature.

Testing "Positive Train Separation" software for increased speeds possibly to 125 mph. On-going monthly progress meetings with Talgo, indicate that the raw oar bodies should be here by July ll. The manufacturing site is to be announced by end of January. other corridors, such as Carolina. Nevada, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Texas and Missouri are expressing interest in the Talgo. An interactive TV program seeks input from residents around me region and is described in Rail Connection newsletter. In the legislative session we need to emphasize the economic development aspect of investing in rail. The Transportation chair will listen to committee members on issues of concern to their constituents.

Final Announcements: DOT sponsored a survey at the end of 1995, asking people for their broad vision for improved transportation generally. The top response (74%) was intercity rail, Second slot (73%) was high-capacity transit, increased highway capacity followed at 51%.

The meeting adjourned at 3:20 p.m.

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