Meeting Minutes — Executive Committee — East Lansing — August 25, 2012

AUGUST 25, 2012

 Present:  Don Monteith, Bob Tischbein, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Jim Hinkins, Dave Randall, Jim Wallington, Hugh Gurney, Kathleen Newell, Larry Krieg

 Call to Order:  Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 11:03 a.m.

 Treasurer’s Report:  As of July 31, 2012, MARP’s checking account had a balance of $9,807.52.  This includes a TRANS4M grant payment of $2,500 and dues of $145.00. The Pratt Fund was valued at $16,635.29.

 For the year to date, the contributions line in the budget is down, but dues are up.  Randall suggested raising the total income line by $5,000 and the expense line by $4,000.

Noting that we have already logged in a 2011 Trans4M payment in 2012 for expenses incurred in 2011 and that we expect an additional $7,500 from Trans4M in 2012, Langdon moved we raise the income line by $10,000 and the expense line by $8,000.  This motion was seconded by Wallington and accepted by the members present.

 Regional Boundaries:  Langdon moved that we adjust the boundary of the East/Central Region westward, so that the dividing line with the Western Region is Route M-66.  This would permit us to appoint Rosemary Horvath of Crystal to the vacant position of East/Central Regional Chair.  Horvath has volunteered for the office.  The motion was seconded by Randall and approved by the members present. 

Secretary Gurney was instructed to prepare maps showing the revised regional boundaries for the Chair, Membership Coordinator, Communications Coordinator and the regional chairs.

Appointments:   After discussion, it was agreed that the Chair should make the following appointments to vacant positions, effective immediately:

            Lawrence Bancroft                 Western Region Chair

            Rosemary Horvath                  East/Central Region Chair

            Larry Krieg                             Vice Chair

Tischbein will contact Bancroft and Krieg.  Chase will contact Horvath.

Dave Randall agreed to continue as Treasurer, with the understanding that he will be commuting between Michigan and Texas.

By-Law Review:  At Chase’s request, Tischbein agreed to appoint a special committee to review MARP’s By-Laws,  in place for ten years or more.  Langdon, Gurney and Tischbein will serve on the committee.

Annual Meeting:  Plans for the September 22 Annual Meeting at Durand Union Station were reviewed.   Bob Johnston of Trains Magazine will be the principal speaker. America By Rail will donate $1,000 to cover Johnston’s expenses as well as expenses for the November meeting in Essex, Ontario.  There will a welcome by the Director of Durand Union Station.  Railroad Catering of Durand will provide the meal, which will cost $14.95 per plate. The election of Executive Committee members will be announced at the business meeting, held right after lunch.  Michelle Johnson of Troy will receive the Leadership Award for her work in getting the Troy City Council to accept FRA funding for the proposed Troy Transportation Center.  The Annual Meeting has been announced in On Track, and a registration form has been posted on the MARP website.  Postcards have been mailed to all who paid their dues in 2011 and 2012.

Hinkins noted that John DeLora wants to commemorate Dietrich Bergmann’s contributions.  Bergmann died earlier in 2012.

Transportation For Michigan Work Plan:  Chase reviewed the July to December, 2012 Work Plan that MARP has negotiated with Transportation For Michigan (TRANS4M).  MARP members will be encouraging legislators throughout the state to support the pending legislation to allow establishment of a Regional Transportation Authority for four counties in Southeast Michigan, and urging communities to adopt Complete Streets ordinances, among other things.  Following passage in 2011 of enabling legislation, the State Transportation Commission has recently approved guidelines for implementation of Complete Streets legislation.   Complete Streets is the concept that all roadways except expressways should safely accommodate all users of the roadway including bikers and pedestrians.  MARP will also assist in the effort to permit the State Infrastructure Bank to fund rail infrastructure.

Langdon noted that members working on behalf of TRANS4M priorities can be reimbursed for mileage at 55 ½ cents per mile.  If a trip is over 100 miles round trip, they are encouraged to rent a car.  Reimbursement for authorized MARP activities remains at 15 cents per mile.

Chicago Union Station Passenger Action Taskforce:  Krieg briefed the group on his ideas for the taskforce.  The proposal is to implement short term improvements that can be accomplished immediately at little or no expense to Amtrak.  Essentially, this boils down to more efficient use of current space and insistence on positive customer relationships by Amtrak personnel.  Better signage and better employee training will be key ingredients.

To date, Krieg has contacted leaders of passenger advocate groups in Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin and Illinois.  John DeLora has discussed the concept with NARP officials.

 NARP has agreed to talk with Amtrak officials in Washington and have them pass word down to their Chicago people that they should agree to work with the CUS Task Force.  It is critical that we get buy in from Chicago Amtrak officials.

Krieg envisions at least monthly meetings in Chicago between Amtrak officials and members of the CUS Task Force which will include members from all the affected Midwest states.  The Task Force will then make recommendations to Amtrak in early November for implementation by the Thanksgiving holiday.  Surveys will be conducted during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, with a final survey in late December.

Noting that TRANS4M funds could be made available, Langdon moved that MARP set up a budget of $2,500 to support the Chicago Union Station Task Force.  The motion was seconded by Gurney and approved by the members present. 

Treasurer’s Job Description:  Randall urged members of the Executive Committee to review the position description handed out at the last meeting.  It needs no further discussion at this time.

Coordinator’s Reports:

            Governmental Affairs:  Langdon handed out copies of Amtrak’s new baggage policies and urged members to read them and react.   Passengers will be permitted to check a total of four bags on long distance trains that have baggage cars.  The first two bags will be free, while the second two will cost $20.00 each.  Passengers will be allowed two carry- on bags as well as personal items such as purses, electronic devices, coolers, etc.

While not definite, it is possible that the new equipment order will include baggage cars for the Blue Water and for Wolverine trains connecting in Chicago with long distance trains.  MARP needs to be thinking of how baggage will be handled on these trains.  What about unstaffed stations?

The latest on the MDOT acquisition of the Dearborn-Kalamazoo line is that Amtrak has agreed to do the maintenance.  MDOT wants to encourage Norfolk Southern to grow their freight business on the line.  Track upgrades should be complete by 2017.

Supplemental money may be available to the states as they transition into PRIIA 209.

            Communications:  Noting that the summer issue of The Michigan Passenger had come out on schedule, Chase asked for comments.  Several members felt that they were not getting enough copies to distribute.  Pointing out that we were already over budget, Randall suggested that we may be giving too many away.  Chase suggested that the matter be referred to the Publications Committee, which can make a recommendation as to the appropriate number of copies which should be printed.

            Membership:  Newell reported that she was currently updating the membership records.  She hopes to provide an update at the Annual Meeting.

            Meetings:  Wallington handed out the proposed 2013 Meeting Schedule.  Gurney suggested that we flip Niles and Ypsilanti so that the Ypsilanti meeting is in February and the Niles meeting in April.  He also suggested that the December, 2013 Executive Committee meeting be held at the Howell Depot.  Krieg agreed to work on arrangements for the Ypsilanti meeting.

Regional Chapter Reports:

            Metro Detroit:  Hinkins reported on a recent briefing on the M-1 light rail project.  No new information was provided.  He will be attending an August 27 meeting at SEMCOG on the commuter rail project.  The MiTrain cars are ready, but need to be tested at 79 mph.  SEMCOG’s Palombo is still talking about “special event” trains this fall or winter. 

Gurney reported that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority had recently received a $640,000 federal grant to further planning of the WALLY line between Howell and Ann Arbor.  Krieg added that AATA is applying pressure on the Ann Arbor Railroad to permit WALLY trains to go into downtown Ann Arbor.  The Ann Arbor Railroad owns the line from a point about three miles north of downtown Ann Arbor south to Toledo. 

            East/Central:  Langdon reported that construction of the new East Lansing Transportation Center should get underway by the end of 2013.  Gurney noted that the new long term parking lot at Durand was now complete.

            Western:  Service on the Pere Marquette has been extremely erratic, Langdon noted, with #370 often returning from Chicago very late and #371 departing from Grand Rapids very late the next morning.  He suggested revising the schedule.  Gurney noted that one of the metrics in MDOT’s 2035 Long Range Transportation Plan specifies that trains should depart their initial station on time.

            Northern: Monteith expressed frustration about the misinformation Amtrak is providing about the station in Charlevoix, which has a sheltered waiting area.  Langdon agreed to provide the correct information to Amtrak’s Dave Kuhn.  As to an article on the advantages of trains over other forms of transportation, Langdon suggested that Monteith contact Amtrak’s Public Relations Officer in Chicago, Charlie Monteverde.

New Business:

Bergmann Memorial: Hinkins agreed to contact John DeLora about suitable comments at the Annual Meeting in memory of Dietrich Bergmann.

            Michigan State Long Range Transportation Plan:  Gurney reported on his attendance at a briefing in Lansing on the Michigan State Long Range Transportation Plan and his review of portions of the plan including the Overview, Goals, Objectives and Performance Measures, Intercity Rail Service and Intercity Bus Service.  He suggested that MARP recommend increased frequencies on all existing passenger rail lines; new service on the I-96 corridor from Grand Rapids to Detroit; on the U.S. 23 corridor, Durand-Ann Arbor; on the I-75 corridor, Bay City-Detroit-Toledo; and the U.S.131 corridor, Kalamazoo-Grand Rapids.

He also recommended new intercity bus service on the U.S. 31 corridor, Holland-Traverse City and a second daylight frequency on the U.S. 41 corridor, Marquette-Milwaukee.

Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 2:50 p.m. 


Respectfully submitted:                                              Accepted:


Hugh D. Gurney                                                         Robert Tischbein

Secretary                                                                     Chair