MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING
OLD DOG TAVERN, KALAMAZOO
FEBRUARY 11, 2012
Present: Dave Randall, Robert Tischbein, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Jim Hinkins, Hugh Gurney, Don Monteith
Also Present: Larry Krieg, Dan Platz, Tom Post, Mike Madill, John Conor, Chris Nozicka, Steve T. Sobel, Mike Whims, Clark Charnetski, Archie Lhamon, Jim Hastings, Thomas Stegink, Dianne Patterson, Robert Patterson, Cheryl Ten Brink, Burton Ten Brink, John DeLora, Tim Hoeffner, J.J. Meddaugh, Richard Pekarek, State Rep. Sean McCann
Call to Order: Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:50 a.m. Lacking a quorum, he moved directly to Coordinator Reports.
Government Affairs: Langdon reported that MARP will receive a $5,000 grant from Trans4M in CY 2012 to cover expenses of participation in Trans4M activities. He distributed the Amtrak release announcing that Amtrak and MDOT have federal approval to increase maximum speeds of Amtrak trains to 110 mph betweenKalamazoo and Porter,Indiana. A special train out ofChicago on February 15 will be a “Ceremonial” launch of the new service, with Amtrak, MDOT and NARP officials on board.
The website StandUpForTrains.org created by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association as a way to rally support among lawmakers, community leaders and advocacy groups includes the MARP logo with a link to our website.
A packet of transportation bills have been introduced in the Michiganlegislature with a high priority on enabling legislation to establish a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) in Southeast Michigan. Langdon distributed excerpts from the FY 2012 and FY 2013 Executive Budget Request presented to a joint House-Senate committee on Thursday, February 9. Due to the differences in the way the budget items are presented, he is uncertain of the actual funding proposed for the Blue Water and the Pere Marquette or whether there is money to fund the Wolverine under the requirement of PRIAA Section 209. (Note: later in the meeting MDOT’s Tim Hoeffner said that PRIAA does not kick in until October, 2014.) Notable in the budget request is a one time transfer of $119 m from the General Fund to the Transportation Fund.
Langdon announced that February 23 will be Transit Day at the Capitol. Trans4M will have a conference call to brief participants on February 21 at 6:00 p.m.
The League of Michigan Bicyclists has an online petition urging Amtrak to allow bicyclists roll-on access toMichigantrains. Charnetski suggested that we monitor the new equipment for baggage and bicycle handling capability.
With the arrival of additional Executive Committee members, a quorum was declared at 11:10 a.m. and Tischbein officially convened the Executive Committee meeting.
Secretary’s Report: Gurney called for review of the minutes of the Executive Committee and the Monthly meetings held in Williamston on January 14. Hinkins moved acceptance of the Executive Committee minutes. The motion was seconded by Monteith and approved by the members present. Chase moved acceptance of the Monthly Meeting minutes. This was seconded by Langdon and approved by the members present.
Treasurer’s Report: Randall reported on the operating results for the month of January, 2012. As of January 31, 2012, the checking account stood at $6, 607.08 and the Pratt Fund was valued at $15,745.27. Tischbein moved acceptance of this report. DeLora seconded the motion and it was approved by the members present.
Randall then presented a revised annual budget for CY 2012 projecting $13,400 in income and $13,195 in expenses and a surplus of $205. Noting that the editor was now paid $400 per issue, Langdon suggested raising dues income by $1,200 and the newsletter printing line by $1,200. An appeal to NARP members inMichigannot currently members of MARP was suggested as one strategy for bringing in more membership dues.
Langdon moved to table the proposed budget. The motion was seconded by Monteith and agreed to by the members present.
Langdon then moved to accept the Treasurer’s report. This was seconded by Gurney and approved by the members present.
Special Guest: State Representative Sean McCann of the 60th District welcomed the group. He expressed pleasure at the prospect of 110 mph trains running through his district. He is particularly anxious to see Amtrak allow bicycles on the trains and is sponsoring a bill to further that objective. Finding a source to fund the $1.4 billion required for transportation remains elusive. The legislature plans to deal first with the creation of a Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority before addressing funding of commuter railroads.
Conor suggested auditing MDOT books to locate unspent money. Meddaugh urged early boarding for the disabled at all stops.
Communications: Chase noted that Transportation forAmerica, a national group, was urging defeat of HR 7 in the U.S. House of Representatives. She thanked those who had already signed their petition and urged others to get on board to defeat this proposed legislation, which would strip transit and public transportation from receiving a portion of the federal gasoline tax revenues. Letters to the local office of one’sU. S. Representative would be most effective. When e-mailing, always include your name and mailing address. As always, communications with legislators should be as an individual, not as a representative of MARP.
TheU. S.Senate is working on a reasonably good transportation bill. The hope is that the Senate version can be the basis of final legislation.
DeLora noted that Representative Upton was opposing HR 7 because it cut out all funding of transit from gasoline revenues. We may need to approach Representative Miller, who voted to move the bill out of committee to the full House.
Chase noted that The Michigan Passenger will be out very soon.
MDOT Report: MDOT’s Director of Rail Tim Hoeffner reported on the February 1 accident just east ofJackson. Warning lights and gates were working when an Amtrak train hit a truck with a lowboy trailer hung up on the tracks. The locomotive, café car and one coach were derailed. The locomotive does not appear to be in bad shape, but the frame of the café car may have been sprung.
While lamenting the accident, Hoeffner emphasized that the equipment did exactly what it was designed to do. There were no serious injuries and emergency responders performed extremely well. Recovery began immediately and passengers praised the response of Amtrak employees and how they were treated. The law says that it is the responsibility of the driver of a vehicle to be aware of the route regardless whether there are warning signs or not.
MDOT andNorfolkSouthern have agreed on the transfer of the Kalamazoo-Dearborn portion of the route to MDOT. However, many details must be finalized. No closing date has been set.
Adjournment: Chairman Tischbein adjourned the Executive Committee meeting at 12:05 p.m.
Respectfully submitted: Approved:
Hugh D. Gurney Robert Tischbein