Minutes of Meeting
Washington Association of Rail Passengers
Sep 11th, 1999 in Seattle, WA
Tony Trifiletti, President
Chuck Mott, BOD Chair
Hans Mueller, Treasurer
Mike Skehan, Secretary
Lloyd Flem, Executive Director
Eric Griswold, Transit Division
BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OTHERS:
Jim Hamre, Steve Spear, Paul Scott, John Carlin, Warren Yee, Loren Vine, Sue Sauer, Darlene Flem, Leroy Chadwick, Roger Bennett, Jan Broderick, Jim McIntosh, Noel Hancock, Roger Mumm, Eleanor Stewart, Mark Lawrence, Robert Lawrence, David Sherrod, Takaharu Drake, Zack Willhoite
12:30: Call to Order, Tony Trifiletti, President
Minutes of 8-12-99 were approved, as amended, to show Sue Sauer in attendance.
Treasurer: Hans reported an income for Aug of $2,268 and expenses of $3,699. Members added (37), lost (0) bringing membership to a record level of 513. Special thanks were given to Tony and Darlene for their tremendous efforts to build membership.
Budget/Finance: David Sherrod reported the addition of a new committee member and the need to conduct virtual meetings using the Internet.
Marketing and Membership: Darlene reported on efforts to do outreach in Senior Centers, beginning with Chehalis. She will be educating staff and clients on accessing the rail system, fares, schedules, and destinations. She encouraged other members to identify Senior Centers in their communities to do similar work.
Board Chair, Chuck Mott discussed the great PR we received during inaugural ceremonies of Amtrak train 761 to Bellingham. Chuck was honored as official passenger number 001. Activities at the downtown Mt. Vernon station site attracted nearly 300 well wishers. Press interviews followed with a picture of Chuck showing his grandson the thrill of riding a train.
Mail and Express, or E-express will be starting in Montana very soon, due to WashARP’s efforts in that area. Chuck noted the potential of E-express (coined phrase) will likely be in the trillions within several years. This is a great opportunity for Amtrak, if seized.
The Blue Ribbon Commission is getting quite a rail education from WashARP and public opinion. A recent poll of 800 registered voters favored rail over roads in solving congestion. The panel discussed how Public/Private partnerships don’t work, until the WSDOT/Amtrak/BNSF/UP/Sound Transit agreements were brought up to the group. If this isn’t successful, then what is? We are finally gaining new respect and friends among traditional nay-sayers of the Oil, Gas and Asphalt interests.
Executive Director: Lloyd Flem reported on our great successes with the Amtrak reform council and house sub-committee hearings held in Seattle last month. As Tony stated in his introductory remarks, Lloyd packed a great punch in the 5 minutes given for testimony. WSDOT’s remarks included praise of the partnership’s Amtrak is participating in and some criticism of the "black box" billing methods used by them. Efforts to re-centralize control in DC will be opposed by both groups as a step backwards.
In an opinion rendered by council, WashARP can spend up to 20% of funds on lobbying for or against issues, and no money or time on individual candidates for office. We are a long way from the 20% limit. This allows us to spend some time and money to help defeat I-695 if that is the direction of the Board.
Lloyd will be responding to WUTC in favor of speed increases along the BNSF ROW between Tacoma and Seattle as resolved by the membership.
Lloyd discussed the wonderful opportunities of traveling from Fairbanks to Anchorage via train. The trip is $309 and runs regular service during the summer months, catering to mostly tourists. College students do a great job as tour guides.
Train service to Vancouver BC on the 761 is contingent on Canada paying a fair share of the costs. To date, WSDOT has contributed $32 Mil for corridor improvements, while Canada has only spent $32,000 USD. They must do much more, or this service is likely to be jeopardized. American tourists spend an average of $50,000 daily in Vancouver as a result of the service. New thruway bus service is now being provided to BC from Bellingham.
Lloyd will be working with Sen. Wyden’s staff on resumption of service between Portland and either Boise or Salt Lake City. By unanimous RESOLUTION, the membership voted to support Lloyd's efforts to encourage Amtrak to begin informing presidential candidates Bush and Gore on the importance of rail service.
Transit: Mike Skehan reported on Erik’s presentation to the Sound Transit BOD of our resolution recommending option 2 for commuter rail startup, beginning mid next year. This was well received by the Board, and is in keeping with staff and sub-committee preferences.
Link Light Rail plans continue to draw battle lines between factions. Both Mayor Shell and County Exec Sims have had staff working to extend rail to Northgate and beyond, while looking for alternatives for Rainier Valley and Tukwila. Shells proposal are largely focused on raising more money or extending the time frame beyond 10 years, while Sims focused on using Bus Rapid Transit Vehicles in the valley, in order to run rail down the Duwamish. Neither plan generates enough capital to get to 145th and I-5. The result has been for both to distance themselves from any radical departures from the existing preferred alternative. This, with some last minute tinkering is likely to go to DC on Nov 18th as our submission for Federal funding.
Also discussed was contingency planning efforts by Metro if Initiative 695 passes. Service levels would be cut by about 30%, wiping out changes made in the last 10 years. Most neighborhood and rural service would be eliminated. Erik reported all passenger only ferries would cease, and car ferries would return to 1980 levels. Mike urged members to work against I-695 as a bad idea.
David Sherrod discussed an emerging need of the Department of Defense to bolster this nation's rapid deployment capabilities, through dispersed port and rail facilities. This could require a tripling of our port through put capacity to meet the challenges of the 21st century world. More on this subject in future meetings.
The meeting was adjourned at 3:15
Respectfully Submitted, Michael Skehan, Secretary
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