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Minutes of the 46th Annual Meeting of Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers
46th Annual Meeting, Saturday, 14 September 2019
Tony M’s Banquet Hall, 3420 Creyts Road, Lansing MI

Members Present:   Adam Tauno Williams, Alan Corbitt, Cecelia Roberts, Chad Lawson, Charles Shong, Charley Bonnell, Chuck Merckel, Clark Charnetski, Dalton Noren, Dan Platz, Dave Falconer, David Cammon, David Roberts, David Williams, Diana Bowman, Dwight Phillips, Gregory Clark, Hugh Gurney, James Roach, Jeanie Merckel, Jerry Becker, John Langdon, Joshua Hamilton, JP Descamp, Kay Chase, Kim Powell, Larry Krieg, Richard Pekarek, Robert Patterson, Steve Vagnozzi, Yuri Popov

Guests:   Charles Reisdorf, Dr. Joe Schwarz (Speaker), Rep. Julie Brixie (D-District 69), Mark Walbrun (Keynote Speaker), Robert Lajeunesse, Vincent Scarafino

Meeting Convened:   The 46th annual meeting was convened at 11 AM by Chair Adam Tauno Williams.

Introduction of Guests:   Steve Vagnozzi introduced State Representative Julie Brixie (D-District 69) who made brief remarks. A lifelong user of public transportation, she is a strong supporter and blames lack of vision for Michigan’s standing as one of the nation’s worst in support of public transportation.

Joshua Hamilton read a letter of welcome from Lansing Mayor Andy Schor commending MARP for service to the State of Michigan and citing the importance of rail to Lansing, both historically and currently.

Keynote Speaker:   Kay Chase introduced Mark Walbrun, Senior Consultant in Rail and Transit for Quandel Consultants, with more than 40 years of experience in railroad and transit system planning, design and construction.

Titling his talk “Building a fast, high frequency passenger railroad in Michigan”, Mr. Walbrun focused on some ideas for moving toward this goal. Public ownership of most of the Wolverine route offers the potential for a European-style arrangement in which private entities bid to provide service on infrastructure owned by the state. The revenue risk is borne by the operator who will evaluate the potential of a given route to provide an acceptable rate of return. Differing models compete on service, on price, or a combination of the two. TOCS, i.e., Train Operating Companies, look at a number of factors in evaluating the potential, among them a comparison of the time it takes to reach the destination by car or by train, then crunching numbers in a complex formula where the desired outcome—the “investment factor”—is a value approaching 1.0 or less. Frequency is a key element in the calculation. The investment factor is lowered each time an additional frequency is fed into the model, thus increasing the attractiveness to private investment. As an example, the Capitol Corridor in California, with 15 round trips/day has an investment factor of 0.5. For Chicago-Detroit driving/train times are close, but lack of frequency would be a deterrent to investment. Walbrun ended with two observations: (1) “To make money you have to have enough service to get a significant market share”; and (2) “Success has little to do with high speed, it has to do with frequency”. He would challenge Michigan to adopt this approach in order to capitalize on the considerable investment already made. Also required would be working in a spirit of cooperation and collaboration with the freight railroads to find ways to benefit both entities.

Former 7th District Congressman Joe Schwarz, who served several years in the state legislature and is currently a lecturer in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at U of Michigan, spoke following lunch. He urged members to talk with lawmakers about overturning term limits, positing that term limits adversely affect the quality of work in the legislature due to lack of experience. Convincing decision-makers of the importance of improving train service and extending it through Detroit and Port Huron to Toronto and the East Coast, as well as investment in equipment, are things “we’ve got to do”. He offered to do all he can to help MARP in dealing with the legislature.


Business Meeting Call to Order:   Chair Adam Tauno Williams called the meeting to order at 1:20 PM

Adoption of Agenda:   The agenda was approved as presented.

Approval of Minutes:  John Guidinger moved to accept as written the Minutes of 45th Annual Meeting, 10 Nov 2018, Joshua Hamilton seconded. Motion approved. Robert Patterson moved to accept as written the Minutes of the 6 April 2019 Meeting, John Langdon seconded. Motion approved. David Williams moved to accept as written the Minutes of 22 June 2019 Meeting, Dwight Phillips seconded. Motion approved.

Treasurers Report:   Steve Vagnozzi reports a bank balance of $18, 079. The Pratt Fund (Vanguard Total Stock Market Investment VTSMX) is valued at $28,344. As of 31 August 2019, annual income exceeds expenditures by $2,060.  Joshua Hamilton suggested thinking creatively about how to use Pratt fund monies to invest in projects to support our mission. Clark Charnetski pointed out that the Pratt Fund, originally set up as endowment, could be used more creatively since dues and donations are sufficient to cover normal operations. John Langdon mentioned the availability of grant money from Michigan Environmental Council for outreach and education to advance the Michigan By Rail program.

Chair’s Annual Report:    Adam Williams reported a number of encouraging developments during the past year. MDOT recently received a $23.3 million federal grant to rehabilitate bridges at Jackson and Mechanic streets in Jackson and to do other trackwork to the east. The West Michigan Express (WMX) project, which could be considered the first phase of implementing the Coast-to-Coast project (service linking Detroit-Ann Arbor-Lansing-Grand Rapids/Holland), is proceeding and could be operational in 2020. MARP recently contributed $1000 from the MEC/Hands Foundation grant to help advance the next phase of planning for WMX bus rapid transit service along Chicago Drive between Grand Rapids and Holland. The Laker Line, a 13-mile bus rapid transit route from downtown Grand Rapids to Grand Valley State University’s Allendale campus (M-45/Michigan Drive), began construction in April, received the first of its thirteen 60-foot compressed natural gas fueled buses in June and is slated to begin service in August 2020.

Not so encouraging are: lack of progress on addressing Michigan’s road funding issues, the “austerity politics” that are stymying other urgent transportation needs, and the hype over autonomous vehicles that distracts attention from more rational and equitable solutions.

Williams suggested three things needed to make our preferences manifest in public policy: Activation – Alternatives – Awareness. He ended his report by asking Joshua Hamilton to speak about a project “making lemonade out of lemons” – a volunteer station host program.

Joshua Hamilton, East/Central Regional Chair, explained the Volunteer Station Host Program being instituted at the East Lansing station. He and Steve Vagnozzi worked with the Capitol Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Rail Passengers Association (RPA), MDOT and Amtrak to begin this program designed to mitigate the effects of the elimination of Amtrak station agents and to create a sense of the station as a community asset. He was pleased with the number and variety of people who came to the August 23 and 24 open houses to learn about the program and to volunteer.  Background checks are being carried out by Amtrak police personnel and the training program will commence next week, led by James Ratliff, Amtrak.

Announcements:   The final MARP meeting of the year will be held November 16 in Kalamazoo and will feature a presentation by Andreas Hoffrichter, who directs the Center for Railway Research and Education at Michigan State University. He will speak on alternative motive power sources for railways, particularly hydrogen fuel cell technology, subjects about which he is passionate.

Member Comments:

Yuri Popov suggests holding regional meetings to encourage wider participation.

Hugh Gurney reported on encouraging progress in expanding transit services in Livingston County, the result of a community survey funded by MDOT and the work of the Livingston County Coalition revitalized by the leadership of Leo Hanifin, Dean Emeritus of the College of Engineering, University of Detroit Mercy, and Greg Kellogg, the new director of Livingston Essential Transportation Services (LETS). On October 1, the Michigan Flyer will begin serving Brighton, picking up passengers at the Meijers parking lot and connecting to East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Metro Airport. WALLY, the proposed commuter rail between Howell and Ann Arbor, is not much talked about at present.

John Langdon mentioned state funding to upgrade a track segment into Traverse City to allow “demonstration” trains to run for special events. Also, completion of the Toledo-Detroit Ridership Feasibility & Cost Estimate Study, initiated by the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments (TMACOG).

Larry Krieg urged members to participate in the student-led Climate Change Strike on September 20.

Clark Charnetski expects the final environmental report on siting of the new Ann Arbor station in the next few months. Challenges remain with a city council loath to build anything. He says the high-level platform at the station generally works well, allowing much faster boarding of passengers. Chuck Merckel recently communicated with Robert Kokx of RLE International, designer and builder of the platform, reporting that Amtrak is happy with the results but has no current plans to deploy elsewhere.

Steve Vagnozzi designed a business card with the Amtrak website, phone number and QR code to place in unstaffed stations.

Dan Platz would like to see commuter service between the Michigan Central Station and Ann Arbor. Adam Williams has been in contact with Ford Land Holdings, the entity that purchased the station, and is cautiously optimistic of a meeting with MARP at some point.

Robert Patterson reported uncertainty in next steps for SE Michigan regional transit plans, particularly how to accommodate rural areas that may not benefit directly from new regional services. Krieg adds that the RTA board makeup is changing with entry of a new Oakland County manager and that there are statutory constraints on what the board can do. Further legislative action may be needed.

Adjournment:   Langdon moved, Patterson seconded, group concurs. Adjournment at 2:45 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Kay Chase, Acting Secretary


MARP Membership Meeting Minutes — St. Johns – January 26, 2019

JANUARY 26, 2019

PRESENT: Approximately 22 members including Steve Vagnozzi, Joshua Hamilton, Adam Tauno Williams, Mark Miller, Robert Patterson, Hugh Gurney, Clark Charnetski, Larry Krieg, Jim Roach, Michael Frezell, Yuri Popov, Dan Platz, Robert Tischbein, Doug Wilson, Kim Powell, Nick Little, Andrew Kent

Also Present:  Jenny McCampbell, Gary McCampbell, at least one community member

Call to Order:  East/Central Regional Chairman Joshua Hamilton called the meeting to order at 10:04 a.m.

Detroit Metro Region:  Regional Chair Robert Patterson announced that the TRU Annual meeting would take place on January 31.  He also noted that the Michigan Central Station in Detroit was open to the public  today, January 26 and Sunday, January 27, to display artifacts connected to the station that have been turned in since Ford acquired the building.  As part of this event, there will be a light show against the building this weekend.

Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer Steve Vagnozzi reviewed the 2019 Budget in some detail.  In order to produce a balanced budget, the Executive Committee has raised lower categories of memberships by $5.00 each.  In response to a question about the Michigan By Rail expense item, Vagnozzi explained that it reflected projects to be done with a Hands Foundation grant to MARP via the Michigan Environmental Council. Supported by the grant are the Coast to Coast Rail project, the Ann Arbor to Traverse City rail proposal, and a proposed commuter rail between Holland and Grand Rapids.

Vagnozzi   noted that MARP members had recently met with former Congressman Joe Schwartz from the new governor’s transition team.  Schwartz is interested in rail transportation projects that could be accomplished in a reasonable time period such as the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail proposal.

Vagnozzi   reminded the group that in the November, 2018, election there was a major turnover within the state legislature.  Meetings by MARP members with new legislators, particularly those on the appropriation committees are critical.

Speaker:  Nick Little, Director of Railway Education in the Center for Railway Research and Education, Michigan State University, was introduced by Hamilton.

Little explained that the Center for Railway Research and Education is part of the College of Business, not the Engineering School and approaches the subject from a business perspective.

He first reviewed the passenger rail structure in his native England where thousands of trains converge on Victoria and other stations in London each day.  It was a shock when he joined the MSU staff in 1995 and realized that East Lansing was served by only one train daily.

He does not foresee a day when Michigan will have a passenger rail system comparable to Great Britain, primarily due to population density.  Michigan and Britain are roughly the same size, but Britain has 58 million people and Michigan maybe 10 million.  In addition, Michigan’s major industry has been automobiles, so people naturally think first of motor transport and highways.  The fact that Michigan is a peninsula state works against rail.

Several trends may change Michigan’s fascination with the automobile.  Today, only 26% of sixteen year olds have drivers’ licenses and younger people want to live in places where they don’t need to own a car.  Little noted that with the smart phone, travelers have instant information on all types of transportation in larger cities like Chicago – walking, bus, etc.  He is a strong advocate of consolidated transportation tickets which work very well in London and other cities.  With current data programs, it is quite easy to distribute revenue equitably among several transportation providers.

Little sees the first passenger rail expansion as a direct rail link between Detroit, Grand Rapids and Holland, supplemented by connecting buses.  Little is a big advocate of connecting buses throughout the state.   He would also like to see Diesel Multiple Units connecting Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.  DMU’s can easily be expanded or shrunk depending on demand.  He suggests connecting the Pere Marquette line with the Amtrak line just north of New Buffalo.

One issue Little would like to see addressed is adequate space for luggage within a passenger’s sight line.   In Britain, luggage is stowed behind the seats.  Level boarding platforms are another key issue.  He sees a need for the Surface Transportation Administration to bring passenger and freight rail people together to resolve the issue.

Little would like to see more emphasis on batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, which have been studied in North Carolina.  Hydrogen fuel cells have the same efficiency as diesel.

At the present time, the biggest challenge in Michigan to the growth of passenger rail is reliability.

When queried about what we as MARP members could be doing to build ridership, Little responded that we should share our enthusiasm for trains and their value.  Share our knowledge about how to use the current rail system, how to get to the train from home, how to get to your ultimate destination from the train station in a distant city – the total end-to-end trip.  Share how the experience on the train is different than that on a plane.  And very important for those wary of public transportation – emphasize that it is perfectly safe to sit next to another person on the train.  Review with others the total cost of driving to another city versus taking the train.  Work for a unified ticket system.

As to “fixing the damn roads”, Little asks, “Where’s the money coming from?”

As to gaining access to stations such as Grand Rapids, Little noted that current technology could make it possible for a ticketed passenger to open the door.

St. Johns Depot:  Hostess Jenny McCampbell welcomed the group to St. Johns and its depot.  The building is owned and maintained by the City of St. Johns and is frequently rented out by the city for meetings, showers and parties.  That is why what once was the waiting room is kept open and uncluttered.

She reminded the group that at one time 95% of all travel was by train.  The city of St. Johns actually came into being because the Detroit and Grand Haven Railroad decided to route its tracks through the area in 1867.  The first station was built in 1869.  By 1910, it was totally obsolete, but the railroad company refused to take action.  Then in 1920, a tornado hit the community and demolished the old station.  As a result, the current station was built.  Fortunately, as building drawings exist as well as photos of the stationmaster at the window with telegraph and typewriter close by.  One of the few artifacts in the waiting room itself is the large safe from the original station which was returned in 2002.

St. Johns is 98.13 miles from Detroit and 90.18 miles from Grand Haven.

The original name of the community was Johns Station.  Somehow the name got transposed to St. Johns.

The volunteer group that McCampbell and her husband Gary head up is mainly involved is preservation and restoration of four railroad cars kept adjacent to the station, a caboose, a sleeping car, a post office car, and a coach.

Frezell added that an interurban once connected St. Johns with Lansing to the south.

Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 12:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Hugh D. Gurney

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — East Lansing – December 8, 2018

MARP Executive Committee Minutes
08 December 2018, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 955 Alton Rd., East Lansing 49823

Present: Tom Purmort, Adam Tauno Williams, Steve Vagnozzi (until 1:00 pm), Kay Chase, Chuck Merckel, Jeanie Merckel, Joshua Hamilton, Warren Fritz, John Langdon (by phone), Mark Miller

Absent:   Robert Patterson

Call to Order:   10:06 a.m.

Welcome, Chair’s plans, expectations and requests of the Executive Committee

Chair asks each person to jot down 3 priorities for the year.  Priorities include: increase membership, improve train service (add cars, frequency), clearly define goals, outreach to local officials, BE POSITIVE.

Approval of agenda:   Accepted as presented.

Approval of minutes:   Hamilton moves, A.Williams seconds, to approve minutes of Oct 9, Oct 16, Oct 23 conference calls. Unanimously approved.

Treasurer’s Report & Approval of 2019 budget:   As of date, net worth is $41,000. Vagnozzi presented the 2019 Budget Proposal prepared by the Finance Committee (Steve Vagnozzi, Hugh Gurney, Mark Miller). Based on 2018 spending and requests submitted by the persons responsible for each budget category, the target was to prepare a balanced budget. Anticipating increases in dues (+$1980) and donations (+$500) in 2019, obtaining another $5000 grant from the Sally Mead Hands Foundation, and withdrawal of $1000 from the VTSAX investment fund (Pratt Fund), budget totals $17,000.

Explanation of each budget line:

  • Administration (+$460) – to increase visibility of the Chair (attend RPA, MHSRA, MIPRC meetings) [TOTAL $1000]
  • Annual Meeting (+$396) – costs were underestimated in 2018; speaker’s expenses and mailing costs [TOTAL $1500]
  • Communications (unchanged) – publish 2 issues of The Michigan Passenger if no increase in printing, mailing costs [TOTAL $3000]
  • Dues Paid to TRU, MEC, MHSRA, RPA (+$75) – there may be an increase in RPA dues [TOTAL $500]
  • Gov’t Affairs (+$60) – increase to cover costs of Meet ‘n Greets with new legislators [TOTAL $1500]
  • Grants to (+$500) – increase to allow grants to historic stations in addition to Durand Union Station  [TOTAL $1000]
  • In-House printing (+$140) – anticipate more printing with legislative Meet’n Greets [TOTAL $500]
  • Membership (+25) – to reflect actual spending in 2018 [TOTAL $325]
  • Michigan By Rail(+$236) – a pass-thru from the Sally Mead Hands grant; covers initiatives to add service, including the West Michigan Express, Ann Arbor to Traverse City (A2TC), Coast-to-Coast (C2C), North-South Commuter Rail (WALLY), and Port Huron station relocation [TOTAL $5000]
  • Monthly Meetings (+$20) – includes some EC meeting costs and some equipment costs; additional meeting room rental costs not anticipated  [TOTAL $800]
  • Outreach (+$40)   [TOTAL $1000]
  • Social Media (-$375) – “boosting” selective Facebook posts accounts for most spending; anticipate producing a video in 2019 [TOTAL $625]
  • Treasurer (+$10) – cover P.O. box rent of $120, payment of mailing costs & tax filing fee [TOTAL $250]

Discussion of Budget:

Langdon:   Suggests putting Social Media under Communications (no action taken) and covering expense of Chair to attend MIPRC annual meeting

Chase:   Would like Pratt Fund monies spent only on very specific, targeted projects; grants to “historic” stations only if the station still serves as an active passenger station

Approval of Budget as presented:

A.Williams moves, Hamilton seconds, to approve the 2019 Budget Proposal as presented. Unanimously approved by voice vote

As a matter of information and awareness, Vagnozzi asks that the manager of each budget category copy the Chair and Vice-Chair when submitting a reimbursement request to him for any amount over $100. Members concur that this is a reasonable informal procedure. Langdon noted that the Bylaws require approval of the person responsible for the budget category for expenditures under $500; for expenditures over $500, approval by the Chair is also required.

Committee Reports and Action Plans for 2019

Discussion of Outreach: Tom Purmort

Envisions a SWAT team ready to go out to business and community organizations; create a deck of power point slides, also a video (Hamilton working on this); have a loop on a monitor at the shows where we table. Purmort adds we need to be looking widely for opportunities to present: Chamber of Commerce, civic organizations, etc.  Set up a schedule and go out and do it.

Objectives for next 90 days:   Outreach to students at Wayne State (C.Merckel says DeLora is interested); MSU (Hamilton working with Nick Little and Andreas Hoffrichter);  WMU (Hamilton & Chase); U of Michigan ( Yuri Popov). Regional Chairs need to be involved.

Governmental Affairs: John Langdon

Five projects are on the table: West Michigan Express Commuter (Grand Rapids-Holland) which Joe Schwartz, former Congressman and member of Governor-elect Gretchen Whitmer’s transition team, thinks is the easiest to accomplish; North-South Commuter (WALLY) and East-West Commuter (Detroit to Ann Arbor) are also feasible in the nearer term; longer term are Ann Arbor-Traverse City (A2TC), Coast-to-Coast (Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids) and the Port Huron station relocation.

Meet ’n Greets with legislators will start in February and take a couple of months to complete. Focus on leadership in Senate and House, chairs of Appropriations and Transportation committees, and lawmakers whose districts have train service.

Langdon distributed 2 sample resolutions prepared by Westrain to EC members at the annual meeting. Langdon moves, A.Williams seconds, to approve the resolution supporting continuation of service on the Pere Marquette route. Following discussion suggesting some changes in wording, it was agreed to table this until the 8 January EC conference call. A second resolution in support of a study to connect the Pere Marquette to the Amtrak line at New Buffalo will be discussed also at the January meeting. A.Williams will follow through on this to determine the reason for advancing these resolutions at this time. )

Regional Chair Reports & Action Plans for 2019

West Region: Warren Fritz

Reflecting on meetings with officials and the public in Battle Creek (January 2016) and Niles (December 2015), it is time to focus again on educational/informational meetings with entities along the Wolverine line. Suggests putting vertical, standing banners similar to those in Dearborn station in other stations along the line.

Discussion of the electronic status boards in KAL, BTL, PNT ensued. Purmort will contact John DeLora about the history and future of these boards. Given the problems with keeping them functional, A.Williams suggests we walk away from future responsibility for their upkeep. Larry Sobczak has responsibility for the boards at this time.

North Region: Mark Miller

Continues to distribute Indian Trails brochures, MARP newspapers and information to locations throughout the region. A problem with finding offices open. Seeking help to make contacts on the west side and the UP.  There is a need to encourage the state to study passenger rail in NE Michigan and the UP. Plans for a membership meeting in the North.

East/Central Region: Joshua Hamilton

Seven goals for the year: (1) Station beautification in East Lansing; (2) Station FAQ signs; (3) Finish establishing East/Central Membership Committee; (4) More involvement at MSU; (5) More MARP outreach locally; (6) Visit Flint and Lapeer stationS; (7) Port Huron station relocation plans. Has concrete progress on #1-4. Is a member of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association Young Professionals group.

New Business:

Discussion of membership dues structure and creating new categories for corporate sponsors. A.Williams moves, Hamilton seconds, unanimously approved by voice vote, to approve revising membership classes and fees as follows:

Senior/Student     $20    (raised by $5)

Regular                   $30    (raised by $5)

Family                     $50    (raised by $20)   NOTE: Changed to $40 when Resolution #7 adopted 08 January 2019

Advocate                $50    (unchanged)

First Class             $100    (unchanged)

Life                        $500    (unchanged)

Suggested new categories for corporate entities

Non-Profit             $50

Bronze                  $125
Silver                     $250

Gold                      $500

Brief discussion of possible incentives to encourage new members: break on dues amount or registration for annual meeting, etc.

2019 Meeting Schedule:

Five member meetings and the Annual Meeting scheduled as follows: Jan 26 (St. Johns), Apr 6 (Detroit/Metro region), Jun 22 (North region), Sep 14 Annual Meeting, Nov 9 (West region). A.Williams moves, Hamilton seconds, to approve this schedule. Unanimously approved. Executive Committee conference call every 2nd Tues, 7pm; Purmort asks that decision items be submitted in advance of the meeting.


Two issues of The Michigan Passenger, monthly online issues of ON TRACK

Jack Urban, Kalamazoo City Commissioner

Attending in person, he is seeking our advice on a lobbying campaign he is initiating to add more service on Wolverine line, also Pere Marquette line if money can be found for both. Distributes sheet recapping recent conversation with Derrick James, who suggested two “asks”: (1) An early westbound train out of Kalamazoo or Battle Creek; (2) A 2nd frequency on the Pere Marquette. Urban is developing a resolution to take to jurisdictions along the Wolverine line. Kalamazoo City Manager Rietsma supports this effort. Would like us to check his facts and suggest individuals along the route with whom to collaborate. A.Williams adds that MDOT has expressed interest in such a collaboration. Purmort points out the challenge of the 1.6 miles of CN track in Battle Creek that are a choke point.

Online Activities Planning Tool:

Purmort envisions creation of such a tool to which all EC members would have access. A. Williams working to obtain a Microsoft Office 365 non-profit license for this endeavor.

Bruce Becker, Vice-President of Operations, Rail Passengers Association (RPA) spoke to the committee via phone with information about ways in which RPA can assist state ARPs in managing their member databases and in web development. In addition, RPA is partnering with the Vermont Rail Action Network (VRAN) in a pilot program to boost and promote membership in both organizations. When joining (or renewing) with the Vermont Rail Action Network (VRAN), members are offered an opportunity to join RPA at a discounted rate by clicking on a link which takes them to a special joint RPA/VRAN membership page. This program could be expanded to serve other state ARPs.

Q&A with Becker:  Does the discounted membership program apply to renewals? Becker says it is primarily aimed at new members, but might be applied also to renewals. Purmort asks if RPA is active with American Public Transportation Association (APTA}: Becker is RPA’s representative on the APTA High Speed Rail group and says RPA is active but could always do more. The Midwest High Speed Rail Assoc. is closest thing to a regional rail advocacy organization of which Becker is aware. Niles volunteer program is going forward with 18-20 volunteers taking training led by Amtrak in January. RPA also looking at a couple stations in Carolina for pilot volunteer programs. Volunteers will not take the place of station caretakers.

All Aboard Ohio:

Purmort has talked with Ken Prendergast, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio. AAO saw a big drop in membership when the Governor turned back stimulus money for the 3C corridor (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati); State of Ohio spends $0 on passenger rail.

APTA Membership:

Purmort cites the wealth of information (committee reports, technical papers) available from APTA. Membership is expensive, but he may be able to get a less expensive membership as a retired member and would pay out of his pocket.

Website coordination:

MARP website needs to be updated more frequently, if not totally redone. Purmort, A.Williams, Hamilton, Chase plan a conference call with webmaster Larry Sobczak.

Inventory of equipment owned by MARP:

A partial list includes: canopy, 2 printers [Langdon has both printers; one of should be with Merckels]. A.Williams has projector, screen and cords for use at meetings.


Adjournment at 3:26 p.m.



Kay Chase, Acting Secretary

Approved 08 January 2019

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – October 23, 2018

MARP Annual Meeting Planning Committee
23 October 2018
Phone Conference Call  7:00 PM
Dial in number  712.770.8041
Conf. Code number  426600

Present: Tom Purmort, Adam Tauno Williams, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Steve Vagnozzi


Charles Shong has tendered his resignation due to family obligations.

Chase had information on two questions that came up in previous meetings:

  • The list exchange with NARP took place in 2010. 52 NARP members joined MARP as a result. Since then, 4 have died, one moved out of state, and 10 have maintained their MARP memberships.
  • The first official meeting of MARP took place on September 19, 1973. Until 2017, the annual meeting has continued to be held in September.

Nominating Committee Report:  The slate of officers for 2018-2020 is almost complete. Warren Fritz is nominated for West Region Chair. The search continues for a candidate for Secretary.
Annual Meeting Planning:  The remainder of the short meeting was concerned with last minute details of the upcoming Annual Meeting.

Joe Shacter (Amtrak), Tim Hoeffner (MDOT), and Paul Larouche (retired from Bombardier Transportation) will speak. Attending as our guests are Greg Holcombe (consultant for West Michigan Express), Chris Matus (staff, Sen. Gary Peters), U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, State Representative Abdullah Hammoud.

18 people have registered for the Annual Meeting. Chase will send out a last call for reservations.

Meeting adjourned at 7:25pm.

Recorded by Kay Chase

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – October 16, 2018

MARP Executive Committee Minutes
16 October 2018
Phone Conference Call  7:00 PM

Present:   Tom Purmort, Steve Vagnozzi, Adam Tauno Williams, Joshua Hamilton, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Mark Miller

Absent:   Robert Patterson

Call to Order:  Meeting called to order c. 7:00 pm

Approval of Minutes:   Minutes of the 11 Sep 2018 meeting were approved

Treasurer’s Report:   Vagnozzi reports no outstanding bills. Will insert a memo in the Registry notes that the $500 donation from America By Rail is designated for Annual Meeting expenses and the $350 donation from John Guidinger will defray a portion of the expense of printing Michigan train schedules for distribution to stations. Vagnozzi, Purmort and Gurney will begin work on the 2019 budget.

Nominating Committee Report:   Clark Charnetski, Hugh Gurney and Steve Sobel are still seeking a nominee for secretary and possibly for membership coordinator.

Annual Meeting Preparations:   So far 8-10 reservations have come in. Program will be limited to three speakers: Paul Larouche (confirmed); Tim Hoeffner (MDOT) and Joe Shacter (Amtrak) confirmation expected. Planning committee (Purmort, Williams, Langdon, Chase) will work out further details in conference call 17 October.

Membership Committee:   Purmort is developing some ideas about increasing membership.

East Central Region Chair:   Hamilton has met with people associated with Arts Council of Greater Lansing and found interest in a project to add some interest to the bare white walls of the Amtrak waiting room. He is interested in getting a committee together to work on regional issues.

Governmental/Public Affairs Coordinator:   Langdon reported on the West Michigan Express project, spearheaded by Hudsonville City Manager Patrick Waterman, that seeks to establish a rapid transit option between Grand Rapids and Holland. On Oct 10, the public was invited by the West Michigan Regional Prosperity Alliance to vote on projects seeking grant support. About 75 people attended and about ¾ of them ranked the West Michigan Express project as their top priority. The Prosperity Alliance executive committee will make the final choice on awarding $22,000 to the project to conduct a survey of businesses along the route to determine interest and potential ridership. MARP has contributed $500 from the MEC/Michigan by Rail grant to support the project.

Open Action Items:

Vagnozzi:   Next quarterly meeting with Indian Trails is scheduled for 15 Nov. Asks Miller to document his distribution of Thruway bus schedules and talks with Chambers of Commerce throughout the North Region. Indian Trails may be willing to reimburse some of his expenses.

Langdon:   The Detroit station agent is retiring 1 Dec. May have implications for the East Lansing station.

Vagnozzi:   Niles being one of the sites chosen for a station host volunteer pilot program. Niles DDA Main Street led by Peter Womer, Amtrak and the Rail Passengers Association are planning an open house 9 & 10 Nov to recruit volunteers.

Purmort:   Discussion of 2019 meeting plans. Vagnozzi moves, Chase seconds, to have 4 member meetings plus the annual meeting. 6 Yeas, 1 Nay. Motion passed

Next Executive Committee Meeting:   Saturday, Dec 8, in Lansing area. Plan 4-5 hours to finalize budget and plan for 2019.

Adjourn:    Meeting adjourned at 8:15 pm

Respectfully submitted,

                       Kay Chase                                             Steve Vagnozzi_________________
Acting Secretary                                                          Chair