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March 2000 General Meeting Minutes

March 2000 General Meeting Minutes

Minutes of Meeting

Washington Association of Rail Passengers

General Meeting

Mar 11th, 2000 in Seattle, WA

12:05 Call to Order, Tony Trifiletti, President

Minutes of 1-8-00 were approved.

Treasurer’s Report: Hans Mueller reported income for Feb. of $1,671.97, expenses of $2,894.46, with a closing balance of $4,414.45. Our appeal letter netted 69 new or renewal members with income exceeding $5.000. Tony suggested we do this twice a year.

Bob Lawrence (Chair, Membership Committee) reported on the Membership Committee. Most of the Amtrak stations have now been stocked with our brochures, including Montana. He spoke on the need for each of the station stewards to keep checking the supply and restock as needed. Several members noted the need to see the effectiveness of the program by marking the station identifier or color-coding the mail-back form. Noel Hancock requested about 100 more brochures for Mt. Vernon.

Planning for the Spokane meeting in May is being coordinated with Dale and Jim. A location will be finalized for a big event noting the "Apple on Amtrak" and the East-West train study.

Tony Trifiletti (President) spoke of his pointed comments made in Portland to both Amtrak and the three other rail organizations in attendance. He emphatically stated this had to be a working meeting in light of the fact that Amtrak may not make "break even" by 2003 as mandated by congress, and that we should be focusing on how do we retain the maximum amount of service in the post Amtrak era, should things come to that. Tony was asked by the California Organizations to Chair the next meeting to be held in Santa Clara, CA on July 22-23. The agenda will consist of two items: Post Amtrak Era, and why Amtrak left the west coast high and dry in phase one of the market based plan.

Stuart Adams noted that while Tony’s remarks were not out of line, we must keep a level of diplomacy in our dealings with those organizations and others.

Tony noted that the Spokane meeting should be a big event, as we have lots of positive rail possibilities for eastern WA with the Apples on Amtrak taking shape.

Warren Yee (Web Master) noted the halfhearted effort being made by Amtrak to accommodate passengers during the closure of Seattle’s station as a result of implosion activities next door. Chuck suggested using a downtown hotel and busses to move people to Edmonds or Tacoma. Lloyd said he would discuss this on Monday with WSDOT.

Noel Hancock (ACAC) noted that taking the new greyhound bus to meetings was not very comfortable now that they have drastically reduced the seat size and spacing. "It’s just like an airplane now". There was some discussion of moving the meetings to 1:30 to 4:00 to accommodate members wanting to take the train to a meeting. By show of hands, most members were in agreement with this idea. Andy’s diner can accommodate about 30 in the caboose car. Several members will look into this. Eleanor stated that parts of our meetings are social, and food service should not be foregone.

Jim Hamre (Editor) discussed Amtrak’s recently released Market Based Network Analysis, noting this is the first time in 20 years that they have undertook a serious planning effort, so even though shortcomings abound, we shouldn’t be too harsh on them. Phase two should be out in late summer/fall and have more details in it showing expanded service areas.

David Clinton, (Metro Marketing and Development) and new member of WashARP discussed the Flex-Pass, and U-Pass programs. He would like to see cooperation between Metro and Amtrak to allow pass holders to receive credit or incentives to use the train in addition to public transit. Mike Skehan thought we could broaden this effort to the Cascades Corridor, with affiliated transit providers all along the line using a "smart card" as advocated by Bruce Agnew for several years now. Chuck thinks the technology is fully developed to begin simplifying and unifying travel in our region.

Ray Allred (WSDOT) reported on progress in the legislative session. The Apples on Amtrak is being vigorously pursued as a Win-Win for growers, Amtrak, and will even make some money for the BNSF on cargo they gave up to truckers years ago. With new refers, capable of handling three truckloads per car, and four day service to the east coast, this could generate up to $10,000 per car, per week, on as many as 20 cars added per train. They are also looking into west coast connections, as well as back hauls from Florida. He praised WashARP’s efforts to get the ball rolling on this one. Several members cautioned against subjecting passengers to unduly and lengthy delays during switching of these cars on and off the consist. Others thought a minimal (20 minute) delay was acceptable, if it preserves the train in the future.

The East-West study is still in the budget, but will be done in-house to save on consulting dollars, which have all but dried up as a result of I-695. Work will begin later this year on the study.

Lloyd Flem (Executive Director) reported on his many meetings with legislators during the session, as well as sending "love notes" to the floor of both houses to help shape what is looking like a best of all the scenarios for preserving the corridor trains. The rail office will take about a 30% hit this year, but retains all existing service. New equipment orders will have to be postponed until future years, but the "no cuts" was great news. He explained how the budget was actually larger than asked for, by including some $60 million in federal money towards Sound Transit commuter rail, the new maintenance facility in Seattle, and about $5 Mil towards King St. renovation.

Chuck praised Lloyd’s efforts in this session for ensuring we got the best we could out of nasty budget fights. Legislators have been very favorable towards rail, including new republican friends from eastern Washington as a result of proposed relief to growers to move their goods to eastern markets faster and cheaper.

Lloyd received a very well deserved "standing ovation" from all members for his efforts and results in representing the organization in Olympia.

Lloyd spoke of new alliances being formed between us and business and labor groups as a result of his contacts with Bob Spence doing lobby efforts for Talgo, Weyerhaeuser and Microsoft.

Lloyd also spoke of efforts by Sen. Gary Chandler to open up the old Milwaukee line running across central Washington as an effort to increase rail service to Yakima/Tri Cities and reduce trip times.

Chuck Mott (Chairman of the Board) discussed the progress of the Blue Ribbon Comm. (BRC). They are fast running out of time to complete their work by the end of the year. The next meeting, to be held on Mar 29 in Seatac, will be an all day event to finalize the needs assessment, and funding strategies. This is where the project list will be adopted for the first draft recommendation. This will go to public meetings this summer and should begin to take final shape in the fall. The public is welcome to attend these meetings.

Mike Skehan (Secretary) reported on the "Lions Den" project. We will be organizing a debate between pro I-711 supporters (Tim Eyman, et al) and pro transit/rail allies. The forum will be aired on KVI radio on the John Carlson show. Lloyd and several other conservative-pro rail advocates will take our case directly to our biggest foes. All of this is very preliminary at this stage, with help being needed in thwarting the oppositions best "sound bites". The great debate is aiming for an early summer showdown to keep I-711 from ever reaching the ballot, or to defeat it if it does.

Chuck explained that republicans are conservatives; the very nature of the word means conserving precious resources and getting the best efficiency out of all systems. That is our best argument. Rail travel is more efficient than SOV only travel. It is the best bang for the buck. These are core issues that the conservative parties should naturally support.

Chuck Mott went into the board reorganization issues, as well as restructuring of WashARP’s meetings that make the organization stronger and more effective. The Executive Committee has been working on this for the past year. Chuck explained the reasoning behind going to a smaller board, and more active sub-committee structure.

Mike Skehan introduced a resolution 2000-2 to restructure the Board to 15 members (attached), with elections to be held at our next meeting in Seattle. The resolution passed unanimously by voice vote.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:03 PM

Respectfully Submitted,

Michael Skehan, Secretary

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