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May 1999 General Meeting Minutes

May 1999 General Meeting Minutes

Minutes of Meeting: Washington Association of Rail Passengers
Board of Directors - May 8th, 1999 in Yakima WA

Tony Trifiletti, President
Chuck Mott, Board Of Directors Chair
Jim Neal, VP East
Hans Mueller, Treasurer
Mike Skehan, Secretary
Lloyd Flem, Executive Director
Erik Griswold, VP Commuter Rail/Transit
Jim Hamre
Steve Spear
Stewart Adams
Dale Menchofer
Paul Scott
Roche Sherman
Warren Yee
Ray Allred (WSDOT)

9:50 Call to Order, Tony Trifiletti, President

A Motion for "Special Recognition of VP Jim Neal" for "extraordinary" efforts in bringing Eastern Washington cities along in promoting a new feasibility study for rail services as part of transportation improvements in future years to satisfy East-West and intercity travel needs. The motion was seconded and passed by unanimous voice vote.

News stories suggesting Amtrak service may be moved to the stampede pass was discussed. The general feeling is that it is not an us or them issue, and much mis-information was contained in the accounts. This certainly deserves our ongoing attention, but a wait and see approach to this is needed. Serving Yakima, by eliminating service to Edmonds, Mukilteo, Everett and Wenatchee makes little sense. Both corridors are important.

Lloyd briefed the Board on discussions with WSDOT, Amtrak, and legislators concerning service improvements and strategies. Talgo trains may have to be turned in Portland, IF the Oregon legislature fails to pass a $14 Mil. appropriation for their minimal fair share of Cascades service. Bob Stevens in Montana is working to get Amtrak express freight service and has asked for our assistance through Lloyd. He subsequently made a trip over to Montana, and explained some of their dificulties in working with Amtrak.

Chuck discussed the importance and limited time to get express main and freight going, on a for profit basis, rather than "another bureaucratic service" provided by Amtrak. An much more aggressive approach, using field sales reps is needed.

Chuck briefed the Board on his grave misgivings about the Governors' Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation, and it's likely "roads, roads, and more roads" outcome. Rail isn't on the radar scope, and his attempts to raise the issues have largely been dismissed "out of pocket" by the chair as well as personal snipes made at him. Several strategies, including more position and information papers are needed, as well as forming alliances with others using environmental issues and requirements. Chuck also discussed the "explosion" of rail services we are and will experience in future years. ABC and CBS will be doing special reports.

Tony discussed the need for mass mailings for membership drives, sharing of Database information within the organization using e-mail and for common platforms to accomplish the organizations structure.

Ken briefed the Board on WSDOT's intention to study the E-W passenger rail corridor options. {Ed note: now passed into law and funded }. This will not just brush the dust off the study done in 1990, but be a comprehensive look at future needs, corridors, stations, costs, and funding issues. A broad cross section of stakeholders will be included in the public involvement phases of the study, and WashARP will certainly be invited to assist the Dept.

Jim discussed his efforts to date, and the need to address E. Washington travel needs, noting the thousands of daily trips across the Cascades Range. If 10% of trips were by rail, it would fill 8 trains a day. Talgo technology, if appropriate, would significantly reduce travel times between cities. We have received support from 10 city councils and more support is forthcoming.

The Board Adjourned at 11AM.

This was followed by lunch and keynote speaker Jean Pierre Ruiz, Executive Director of Renfe Talgo, USA at this first sponsored event at improving rail services to Eastern Washington communities. Attendance packed the ballroom of the largest hotel in Yakima, giving a good indication of enthusiasm for this subject.

Several Key members of the legislature were present as well as the Mayors of Yakima and Toppenish.

The luncheon was covered by both print and television media for E. Washington coverage

Jim Neal is to be congratualated for the splendid turnout.

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