WASHINGTON ASSOCIATION OF RAIL PASSENGERS
June 8th, 2002
Meeting Place: The Grand Chinese Buffet
OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS PRESENT: Stuart Adams, John Carlin, Jim Cusick, Jim Hamre, Noel Hancock, Robert Lawrence, Chuck Mott, Hans Mueller, Rocky Shay, Dr. Ron Sheck, Eleanor Stewart, J. Craig Thorpe, Tony Trifiletti, Warren Yee
OTHERS: Steve Spear, Zack Willhoite, Mark Lawrence, Efrem Kirsher, David Clinton, Robert Rohrer, Peter Chelemedos, James McIntosh, Dale Menchhofer, Ray Allred, Louis Musso, Roger Mumm, Paul Beatty, Bill Neal, Simon Jaworsky
SPECIAL GUEST: Byron Coles
President Tony Trifiletti called the meeting to order at 1:02PM and reviewed the day’s agenda. He mentioned that State Representative Doug Erickson has requested WashARP’s, not Bruce Chapman’s, ideas on the Cascade Foothills Corridor.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Secretary Rocky Shay called the roll of the board and found 12 members present.
Chairman Chuck Mott said he is now up to date when it comes to use of the Internet.
President Trifiletti moved and Board Member Noel Hancock seconded a motion to approve the previous meeting’s minutes. Approval was unanimous.
Mr. Mott thanked Dr. Ron Sheck for his service as Vice President Government Affairs and Public Relations. He also described the incoming director, Pat Halstead. He also said the Cascade Corridor representation is important.
Dr. Sheck then moved that the Board approve Pat Halstead as Vice President Government Affairs and Public Relations. J. Craig Thorpe seconded the motion. Mr. Trifiletti briefly reviewed the Board formalities involved. Approval was unanimous.
Chairman Mott then turned to President Trifiletti for a review of the resolution from Vice President Jim Neal on the coming Board and Officer election, including a change in filing procedure. Rules will appear in the October-November newsletter, with the election in November. Susan Sauer will be asked to serve as Special Election Officer to count and certify ballots. Mr. Mott sought a motion to approve the Neal resolution. Mr. Hancock so moved. Mr. Carlin seconded. Mr. Hamre sought clarification on the required legal notice. It was determined that research was needed on the announcement of the time and timing of nominations. Mr. Trifiletti picked October 4th at 2PM. Mr. Hamre moved for the amendment, Mr. Trifiletti seconded. Mr. Yee sought clarification on Ms. Sauer’s proposed status. Robert Lawrence asked if candidates could file by e-mail. Mr. Mott answered "no", but it was noted that NARP uses e-mail. Mr. Hancock suggested and Mr. Mott agreed to put this over to the next meeting. Mr. Mott said we must avoid the problems that cropped up in the last election. There was a brief question about changing the dates in the motion and the newsletter schedule. The vote was then taken. The amendment was approved unanimously.
The Board adjourned temporarily amid confusion over the vote on the election motion.
SPECIAL GUEST: Robert Lawrence introduced Byron Coles of the Ballard Terminal and Meeker Southern Railroads, and handed out briefing guides. Mr. Mott reassured Mr. Coles that WashARP also supports freight rail.
Mr. Coles described during the next hour his railroads and challenges by the city and some Ballard residents who want to convert part of the Ballard Terminal (a former Northern Pacific branch line) to fill a missing link in the Burke-Gilman trail. He also supplied the latest map of Washington State railroads. He said railroads must start selling themselves, noting that their stock prices and return on investment are both down. He urged us to write Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and support alternate routes for the trail. He fielded questions from Mr. Mueller about the federal role in his business, Mr. Rohrer about whether the railroad is grandfathered in, and about his firm’s legal organization (privately-held LLC). Following other questions and comments about the political aspect of the trail situation, Mr. Mott suggested streetcar operations to gain grass roots support. But Mr. Coles expressed concern about cost and liability. Ray Allred then praised Mr. Coles’ work in approving the Ballard line. Mr. Menchhofer suggested some possible compromises on the trail. Mr. Coles said there may be no satisfactory solution.
President Trifiletti thanked Mr. Coles, who received applause. Chairman Mott suggested WashARP would likely write a letter in support of Mr. Coles.
BOARD RECONVENED: President Trifiletti reconvened the Board and reviewed its earlier action. Mr. Mott called for a vote on Mr. Hamre’s amendment. The amendment was approved 8-4.
Mr. Mott then recognized Mr. Hamre, who asked if we should help NARP hire former Amtrak Government Affairs Director Tim Gillespie, as brought up in the last meeting. Mr. Rohrer sought and received a review of the situation. Mr. Mott summarized Mr. Gillespie’s expertise on funding and sought a motion, possibly with a contribution amount. Mr. Hamre moved that WashARP appropriate 500 dollars. Mr. Mueller seconded. In discussion, Dr. Sheck praised both the idea and Mr. Gillespie. Robert Lawrence said Georgia is already contributing 500 dollars. The goal is to have $5000 in NARP funds and a $5000 state match. Mr. Thorpe also praised Gillespie. Mr. Spear asked how much of Mr. Gillespie’s time this would buy. No one was sure. Mr. Mott asked for and received clarification on the proposed arrangements. Mr. Mueller said discussions have been informal. Mr. Hamre said the period would run until the end of this year and added that Mr. Gillespie has already helped NARP with a position paper on Intercity rail. The vote was called. Approval of Mr. Hamre’s motion was unanimous.
Mr. Yee then proposed setting up a WashARP committee to study the three-county Puget Sound Regional Transportation Plan. Mr. Mott described the plan. Mr. Yee was unsure about the rail portion. He said we must develop a position and suggestions and write to local government leaders. Mr. Yee also agreed to chair the committee. Dr. Sheck moved and Mr. Yee seconded a motion to create it.
Dr. Sheck then said the plan has rail funding, plus 70 million dollars for King Street Station, and that he is working with Seattle Transportation Director Grace Crunican.
He suggested a letter to the Seattle City Council Transportation Committee. But he admitted he doesn’t have all the details. Mr. Yee was unsure of light rail funding, but said the commuter rail portion would complete North line Sounder station, plus an extension of Sounder to Dupont, plus some other facilities. He said it would also replace money lost to Initiative 695, and possibly even do a Sounder extension to Arlington.
Mr. Trifiletti wondered how to staff the committee. Dr. Sheck suggested that Mr. Yee chair the committee and decide himself how to staff it.
The vote was then called. Approval was unanimous.
REFERENDUM 51: Mr. Mott urged that WashARP formally recommend the Statewide Transportation Plan on the basis of its 384 million dollars for rail & commute trip reduction and passenger-only ferries. He said the Association of Washington Business has asked for our support. He said WashARP Executive Director Lloyd Flem has suggested publicizing the rail portion more…and noted that the rail portion has statewide support. Mr. Hancock moved that WashARP take a formal position in support of Referendum 51. Mr. Yee seconded.
In discussion, Mr Yee offered some exact rail figures. Dr. Sheck had specifics on the intercity rail passenger portion (16 locomotives, 5 Talgo trains, plus trackwork). Mr. Mueller said letters to editors show a lack of support, but call for more roads and show little knowledge of rail. Dr. Sheck said we must also support the freight portion of the plan.
Mr. Allred said short lines will be in capital trouble without 51. Mr. Thorpe said Pat Halstead will get WashARP’S position out. Mr. Menchhofer mentioned the value of grade separation for freight and said plan would end squabbling over what to do. Mr. Hamre worried that some think the legislature can do a better package…others find rail unimportant. He said some object to lids and noise walls as extravagant. Mr. Lawrence said 51 is the best we can get. Mr. Yee agreed and said Mr. Flem would also agree. Mr. Mott said he didn’t want to influence the vote, but noted that Mr. Flem and Mr. Longley worked hard to get choices into the plan. And, since railroads do their own maintenance, we’re getting more with 51 than meets the eye. He noted that 5 Talgo sets could double or triple the existing number of trips, with accompanying revenues. Mr. Allred said 51 will save short lines, especially in Eastern Washington, by eliminating deferred maintenance. Dr. Sheck noted the rail money can be leveraged for federal dollars, especially with reauthorization of T-21 next year. Mr. Hamre wondered about getting assurances that the support coalition will ignore rail and said our support resolution should call for rail emphasis. Mr. Mott said we can write the Coalition as individuals.
Mr. Mueller called for the vote. Approval was unanimous.
Mr. Mott then moved that we write Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels supporting the Ballard Terminal on keeping its franchise, with copies to all City Council members and City Transportation Director Grace Crunican. Mr. Trifiletti seconded. In discussion, Dr. Sheck said support of the Ballard Terminal is important for business reasons. Mr. Menchhofer agreed with Mr. Trifiletti that the letter should urge creative thinking. The motion was approved unanimously.
Mr. Mott assigned the draft of the letter to Mr. Menchhofer. Ballard Terminal will receive a copy.
MEMBERSHIP AND MARKETING COMMITTEE: Chairman Robert Lawrence reviewed plans for the July meeting and passed out flyers. Mr. Trifiletti thanked Louis Musso for picking up the gratuities. Mr. Musso then described the speakers and said there would be an optional tour of the Ellensburg depot. Mr. Hamre added that fliers would be mailed Friday.
Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Menchhofer then suggested holding the September meeting in Ballard, since Everett was up in the air. Mr. Trifiletti noted that the December meeting is on the 7th.
Mr. Lawrence noted that we have 53 members behind on dues. He named 6 new members. No word from Alki Tours. Mr. Hancock asked how we welcome new members and Mr. Trifiletti explained. Mr. Hancock wondered if we could do more. Mr. Lawrence suggested giving out cards good for drinks on the trains. Mr. Mueller suggested doing that…for an extra contribution.
Mr. Lawrence then said that he is going for training in the Interpretive Guide Program. He criticized "slacktivists" who don’t do group activities.
He then said Executive Director Flem is urging a Bellingham meeting in November, due to the presence of Representative Erickson. Mr. Menchhofer suggested Edmonds soon and is seeking information on ferry plans. Dr. Sheck suggested inviting top Ferry System officials to that meeting. Mr. Trifiletti suggested the Edmonds station.
On the Ellensburg meeting, Mr. Musso said the likelihood of trains there is growing and the Mountainstar Resort just passed its final environmental hurdle. He said the Ellensburg City Council will place a passenger rail district vote on the September ballot. He said we will try to make the Ellensburg meeting a media event. There followed a general discussion of driving directions and hotels.
WASHINGTON FRUIT EXPRESS: Mr. Allred said Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald hosted a Wenatchee symposium on moving perishables by rail due to the shortage of trucks. He arrived by locomotive cab on the Empire Builder! Mr. Allred discussed logistical needs to eliminate double-handling. He said the DOT will work with receivers back East, and BNSF has offered to donate 200 older refrigerator cars for a dollar a car for a state pool to slash waiting times. But those would be used on freight trains. Mr. Allred also said Amtrak’s apple and potato volumes are similar. Mr Cusick asked about backhauls…was told ExpressTrak figures 30 per cent. He also said it looks like smaller cars, two trucks big, will work for applies.
ISSAQUAH TROLLEY: Mr. Thorpe said the Yakima Trolley was sent home with fanfare and Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Trolley backers have asked San Francisco for aformer Milan, Italy streetcar that they have stored.
OPEN MIC: Mr. Hancock suggested that he be allowed to set up a WashARP program to send 23 people to community colleges when they do employment conferences…to get young blood into the group. He wants suggestions. Mr. Trifiletti referred him to the Membership and Marketing Committee.
Mr. Hancock said he would meet with Mr. Neal to get thruway bus service on the South line. He asked for our help.
Mr. Hamre said Referendum 51 has money for 8 Talgo round trips a day between Seattle and Portland, and 3 between Seattle and Vancouver, BC. He also said Amtrak is going back to a traditional form of organization. He said NARP’s Ross Capon is asking new president David Gunn to keep Gil Mallery due to the partnerships he’s developed. Mr. Rohrer sought clarification on Gunn. Mr. Hamre said that is reviewed in the Executive Director’s Report.
Mr. Mueller noted that Mr. Coles, our special guest today, attended a past WashARP meeting in Bellingham.
With time gone, Mr. Trifiletti had to pass out Mr. Flem’s Executive Director’s report without reading it. Copies are available.
AORTA’s Simon Jaworsky gave a brief update on rail progress in Portland and said Vancouver is now interested in light rail. He said the state has authorized more money for passenger and freight rail service. But he said Eugene is looking at express busways, not light rail. In Albany, a bike overpass project, which could have restricted rail capacity, was rejected. He said the political situation n Oregon is tough, but there is talk of expanding passenger rail service to Roseburg on the Siskyou line. There is also thought of the Portland Coliseum cite hosting a transportation center as part of a planned I-5 project. They are working on a local match for a commuter line from Beaverton to Wilsonville with DMU diesel railcars from Bombardier, now being designed.
President Trifiletti adjourned the meeting at 3:51PM.
Rocky Shay, Secretary
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