Meeting minutes – Executive Committee — Lansing– December 15, 2012

DECEMBER 15, 2012


Members Present:  Robert Tischbein, Larry Krieg, Hugh Gurney, Kay Chase, John Langdon, Jim Wallington, Jim Hinkins, Rosemary Horvath, Don Monteith

Call to Order:  Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:45 a.m.  It was ascertained that a quorum was present.

Secretary’s Report:  Minutes of the meetings on November 10, 2012 were reviewed.  Krieg moved acceptance of the Executive Committee minutes.  After a second by Langdon, the minutes were approved.

Krieg then moved acceptance of the Membership Meeting minutes.  Langdon seconded the motion and it was approved by the members present.

Treasurer’s Report:  Langdon distributed the Treasurer’s Report as submitted by Treasurer Randall.  As of November 30, 2012, the balance in MARP’s checking account stood at $30,123.44.  This includes $17,141.26 in Pratt Fund proceeds awaiting transfer to a new Vanguard Account.

For eleven months of the fiscal year, income totals $22,455 and expenses come to $15,748, leaving a balance of $6,707.     

A discussion concerning the payment of expense accounts prompted a call to Randall, who said he will process payment within 10 days of receipt.  Randall will contact the Livonia Postmaster to ascertain if some requests for payment are in the Livonia post office box.

Langdon moved that the Grants expense line be increase by $500 to $1,000 and that the Chicago Union Station expense line be decreased by $500 to $2,000.  Gurney seconded the motion.  Horvath questioned the need for such adjustments.  The motion passed with two abstentions.

The budget for 2013 will be discussed at the meeting in Williamston on January 12, 2013.  Tischbein will appoint a committee to review and make recommendations.


Coordinator Reports:

            Governmental Affairs:  Langdon reported that Amtrak plans to add an extra train from Chicago to Ann Arbor and return on six days during the Christmas holidays, the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Christmas and the Friday, Saturday and Sunday prior to New Year’s Day.  The extra Kalamazoo-Chicago and return scheduled over the Thanksgiving holidays will not return.

MARP is slated to receive a grant of $4,000 from TRANS4M for January-June, 2013 time period.  MARP members will be expected to meet and greet the 27 new members of the state legislature plus leadership members, track the transportation budget, and work to assure additional funding for the continuation of the three existing Wolverines once PRIIA 209 kicks in on October 1, 2013.

Langdon would like to see a large contingent from MARP at the MEC legislative breakfast in Lansing on January 30 at 8:30 a.m. 

MEC has moved to larger quarters at 602 W. Ionia Street in Lansing.  Several MARP members were present at a recent open house.  Krieg was impressed with the caliber of people at MEC and partner organizations.

Langdon received a Christmas card from the people at the Muskegon CVB.  Perhaps they haven’t forgotten the thought of a bus from Muskegon connecting with the Pere Marquette in Holland.  He will contact Amtrak about having the extra Chicago-Ann Arbor train stop in Dowagiac. 

In response to Langdon’s question, Chase confirmed that all portions of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority legislation had been passed by the lame duck legislature.  She was uncertain whether Washtenaw County was included in the authority or not.

MARP has been asked to put up posters in non-staffed stations announcing the new Amtrak baggage policies.  According to the policy, passengers are limited to carrying two bags onto Michigan trains.  Plastic bags are no longer allowed.  This may be a real problem for people connecting in Chicago with long distance trains, or returning to Michigan after an extended trip. 

Another Amtrak policy that may have repercussions is that people boarding at a non-staffed station and paying cash will be charged at the highest bucket rate, no matter when they made their reservation.  This will make travel harder for people who do not have a credit card.

            Communications: Chase noted that one of TRANS4M’s goals for 2013 is to convince the state legislature to use existing transportation funds more strategically by combining four separate pots of money.  She wants to emphasize that rail is a key part of the environmental movement to both environmental and transportation advocates.

From a contact in the Wisconsin Association of Railroad Passengers, Chase has learned that a group called After 26 will be running a café in the former Ann Arbor Railroad station in Cadillac.  The group offers employment to the developmentally disabled..  The website is>                                                            

The Congressional Passenger Rail and High Speed Rail Caucus has published a list of all high speed rail projects funded.  She needs to check on who are members of the caucus.

Congressman Mica is leaving Congress at the end of the term.  His last hearing will focus on the Northeast Corridor. 

 Chase passed out Tischbein’s Annual Report. In the interest of time, it was not delivered at the Annual Meeting in September.

 The January-June, 2013 TRANS4M Work Plan will include completion of the final report on the Forums conducted in 2012, urging local jurisdictions to adopt the Complete Streets philosophy, following up on implementation of the Regional Transportation Authority, and advocacy for reform on transportation funding.  MARP will work with TRANS4M on promoting the Lights, Camera, Transportation! contest which encourages people to tell their stories, good and bad, about transportation experiences.  MARP will invite young people to participate.

                         Newsletter:  Chase asked for a volunteer to do the “From the Board” segment in the next newsletter.  Hinkins agreed to write something dealing with commuter rail.

                         Outreach:  Tischbein reviewed upcoming Outreach events including shows in Saline, Michigan, and Middlebury and Elkhart, Indiana.  Horvath agreed to take the lead on the show in Mount Pleasant. 

           Membership:  Chase reported that a renewal letter will go out shortly after January 1.

            Future Meetings:  Wallington reviewed the nearly final schedule for meetings in 2013.  We will have no history speaker at Williamston on January 12 to permit more time for a talk on the Eastern Border Coalition and plans for the new East Lansing Transportation Center.  T.J. Gaffney, former director of the Steam Railroad Institute in Owosso, will be the speaker in February in Capac.  Gaffney has expressed an interest in being more active in MARP.  Langdon will ask to have trains #351 and #352 stop in Niles on March 9 for the meeting there. 

For the August 10 meeting in Manistee, members will be allowed to sleep aboard the former car ferry City of Milwaukee.  We will be meeting in conjunction with the local historical society.  Wallington will check on the cost of chartering a bus to Manistee and return.

Speakers for Niles, Vicksburg and Flushing have been confirmed.  The station in Albion is owned by the city but leased to an insurance agency which also serves as the Greyhound agent.

Chase urged Regional Chairs to try to get members in their regions out to meetings when they are held in their region.

Regional Chapter Reports:

            Northern:  Monteith urged members to review the latest issue of Trains magazine which has excellent articles on the Auto Train, the saga of the Talgo Trains in Milwaukee and the Chicago CREATE program.

            East/Central:  Horvath recommended Keith Hevson as an expert on the history of the Grand Trunk Railroad.  Langdon asked her to meet with Norma Ward to review station lighting in Durand and other issues there.

            Pekarek continues to urge a tightening of the Blue Water schedule.  Passengers get very annoyed at the long waits at each station.  Langdon speculated that CN may be quite happy with the schedule as it make it very easy for them to win on time incentive bonuses.

            Detroit Metro:  Hinkins has seen the report on the testing of the bi-level commuter cars back in November and will distribute it.  All went well and the cars should be ready for special events runs early in 2013.  The fact that the tests were conducted from Pontiac to Jackson and return may indicate that the proposed route of the Ann Arbor-Detroit trains may be extended in both directions.

            The bill authorizing the Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority is awaiting the governor’s signature.  Work is underway on the transportation centers in Troy and Dearborn. 

            Krieg reported that the Ypsilanti Freight House will be used by the local historical society.  


Old Business: 

            Chicago Union Station Passenger Action Taskforce:  Meetings with the Amtrak team have been on a fairly high level.  Amtrak seems most willing to work on signage issues.  Platform changes are admittedly difficult to implement.  As to the boarding process, the Amtrak people are not at all enthusiastic.  The taskforce needs to strategize their next steps.

            Position Description Task Force:  As a first step, Chase asked all members of the Executive Committee to write up a draft of what they think their position entails.  She would like position descriptions for all Executive Committee members to be finalized within six months.  Gurney noted that Randall had already submitted a position description for the Treasurer’s position.

            By Law Review Committee:  Tischbein suggested a meeting of the committee in late December.


New Business:

            Structure of Executive and General Membership Meetings: Krieg urged that we structure meetings so that action items are addressed first.  It was agreed that he and Tischbein would work together on future agendas.


Adjournment:  The meeting adjourned at 1:10 p.m.


Respectfully submitted:                                  Accepted:




Hugh D. Gurney                                             Robert Tischbein

Secretary                                                         Chair