Minutes – February 10, 2007 – Durand

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes


Date:  Saturday, February 10, 2007


Location:  Durand, Michigan


Attendees:  Mike Whims, Michael Frezell, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, John Langdon, Andrew Kent, Jim Hinkins, Burton TenBrink, Kazuya Fujita, Norma Ward, Bunnie Surtz, Steve Sobel, and Therese Cody.

  1. 1.                 Chair Whims called the meeting to order at 10:09 am as an Executive Committee meeting with a special thanks to Norma and Bunnie for flowers and cookies.


  1. 2.                 The minutes from the January 2007 meeting were approved.


  1. 3.                 Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer Dave Randall reported as of January 31, 2007 there was $167.63 in expenses and a final balance of $1,904.41. MARP received $227 in dues.  The Pratt fund had a balance of $14,786.84.  The treasurer’s report was accepted by a motion from John Langdon and seconded by Steve Sobel.


  1. 4.                 Presentation on Blue Water marketing activity & MDOT Update:  Marci Fogal, Executive Director, Blue Water Convention & Visitor’s Bureau was ill and could not attend the meeting.  Therese Cody (MDOT) reported that Marci’s organization is doing billboards to promote the Blue Water service. They are also creating maps and brochures.  MDOT is interested in community oriented marketing for trains.  Grant money of $50,000 is available now for marketing.  Therese handed out Michigan ridership results for January 2007 with a comparison to January 2006.  The report showed the Blue Water had 8.6% increase, the Pere Marquette a 13.3% increase, and the Wolverines a 6.6%.  Ticket revenue results showed the Blue Water a 13.1% increase, the Pere Marquette a 12.8% increase, and the Wolverines a 10.2% increase.  Alex Kummant (Amtrak President and CEO) is scheduled to meet with Michigan’s Governor Granholm on February 14, 2007.     


  1. 5.                 Regional Reports


    1. Central/Eastern Region:  Dick Pekarek reports the Blue Water train # 364 on February 5, 2007 and # 365 on February 6, 2007 were cancelled due to extreme cold weather and shortage of rail cars per Amtrak News release.  Chartered buses were used as alternate.  On Time Performance (OTP) of # 365 for the period of January 13, 2007 through February 9, 2007 (26 days – except February 5, 2007 and February 6, 2007) was as follows:  Average Chicago arrival time was 50 minutes late with arrival time ranging from on-time to two hours and 40 minutes late.  Majority of delays on Canadian National track mainly Port Huron to East Lansing with a couple delays occurring between East Lansing and Battle Creek. Lapeer station is tentatively reserved for the July 2007 MARP meeting.  The membership agreed on July 14, 2007 as the official date.
    2. Western Region:  John Langdon. Waiting rooms are not large enough to accommodate passengers at some Pere Marquette route stations.  There have been no Pere Marquette train cancellations due to cold weather.  CSX is upgrading the signaling from Porter, Indiana to Plymouth, Michigan.  The city of Holland is converting the bus system from a city run operation to an authority.  There is talk of putting track edge on the Holland station platform.  
    3. Northern Region:  Andrew Kent reported about a Bluewater Chapter excursion from Gaylord to West Branch.  Canadian Pacific dome car owner, whose car is stored in Saginaw, is trying to do some excursions.  Nothing to report on the June meeting location.  The membership agreed the meeting could be held in Durand on June 16, 2007 if no northern Michigan location is selected.  
    4. Metro Detroit:  Chair Whims reported the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter train is proceeding but nothing new to report.  Reportedly, there is discussion with Amtrak. He announced that Michigan Day in Chicago is May 16, 2007, and he, Dick Pekarek and John Langdon will represent MARP.


  1. 6.                 Committee Reports

c.a.                       Outreach Committee:  Vice Chair Michael Frezell discussed outreach events and passed a schedule to members.

d.b.                      Route Enhancement Committee:  None

e.c.                       “Ride the Train Michigan” Committee:  Meeting after lunch.

  1. d.     Nominating Committee:  Andrew Kent reported Mike Whims is stepping down as chair.  Dave Randall is seeking re-election as treasurer.  Dick Pekarek is not seeking re-election.  John Langdon is seeking re-election as Western Michigan Chapter Chair.  Clark Chartnetski is seeking re-election as At-Large Executive.  


7.   Old Business

b.a.          Newspaper Planning:  Chair Whims reported for newspaper editor J.R. Valderas that there would be no winter edition.  March 24, 2007 is the deadline for the Spring 2007 issue, which will be produced as a 12-page publication.  Possible stories for the newsletter include proposed rail service on the Great Lakes Central (former TSBY), moving the Clare depot, proposed Troy-Birmingham Transit Center, proposed Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail service, New Buffalo to receive new Amtrak service, and Ann Arbor to Traverse City passenger service.  J.R. is seeking help from the membership for any news stories (Michigan related), editorial, and photos.  Patterson suggested doing a small newsletter like All Aboard Ohio.  John Langdon volunteered to print one on his computer.  There was discussion on going back to 8 ½” x 11” format.  There was a question from Kaz about surveying members.  A story idea about Chicago Metra train connectivity was discussed.    

  1. b.                 Future Meeting Locations:  April 14, 2007 – Downtown Royal Oak at Woody’s Diner; May 12, 2007 – Holland; June – Durand as backup to northern Michigan; July 14, 2007 – Lapeer; August 11 or 18, 2007 – St Joseph (tentative); September 8, 2007 (annual meeting) – Durand or Lansing.  Norma Ward volunteered to chair the annual meeting committee if Durand is selected.  Cost of the banquet hall at Durand is an issue to be resolved.
  2. c.                  Report of MARP/Amtrak operation meeting:  Chair Whims provided a verbal report of the meeting held with Amtrak operations on February 1 in Detroit.       
  1. New Business    
    1. Passenger Rail Funding:  Chair Whims provided a report on federal and state funding.  For FY 2007, continuing resolution (HJ Res. 20) freezes funding at $1.294 billion, same as FY 2006.  The Amtrak board had asked for $1.873 billion under its “full” request, or $1.597 billion under its “basic” request.   For FY 2008, President Bush has asked for $0.800 billion in direct Amtrak support as follows

Operating Support – $0

Food & Beverage Suport – $0

Capital Grants – $500 million

Efficiency Incentive Grants – $300 million

FY 2007 state support for Amtrak operating subsidy is not to exceed revenues generated, with a cap of $7.1 million.  

    1. Meet Your Legislator Day:  John Langdon will represent MARP for “meet your legislator day” on February 14 in Lansing.  This event is organized by the “Let’s Get Moving” Coalition, of which MARP is a member.
    2. Legislature Committee Members:  Chair Whims reported the names of new state legislature committee members, particularly in appropriations and transportation.   


  1. General Member Comments:  

c.a.                       Charnetski reported Ann Arbor north board US 23 will be worked on first this year.  There is a plan to run a commuter train either from Whitmore Lake or Howell to about one mile north of the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

Adjourned at 12:19 pm


Respectfully Submitted Michael Frezell, Vice Chairman.


APPROVED:   _____________________               ___________________

                      Mike Whims                                John DeLora

                      Chairman                                   Executive Director


                    Michael Frezell

                    Vice Chairman