MICHIGAN ASSOCIATION OF RAILROAD PASSENGERS
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETING
WAYNE COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE, DETROIT
APRIL 5, 2014
Present: Robert Tischbein, Larry Krieg, Hugh Gurney, John Langdon, Kathleen Newell, Kay Chase, Jim Wallington, Robert Patterson
Also Present: Jim Hinkins, Steve T. Sobel, Dave VanderBee, Chuck Merckel, Jeanie Merckel, Clark Charnetski, Sarah Hall, Randy Floyd, Caesar Dunwoody, Anthony Woods, Jamari Gladney, Doug Wilson, Clarence Hill, Duane Johnson, John Cwiek, Charles Anish, Dan Platz, Tim Hoeffner, Shirley Davis, Anissa Nelson, Ren Farley, Howard Phillips, Doulatvnneaa Choudhury, Clifford Hollings, Clayton Farmer, Peter Hollinshead, Frank Dunbar, Howard Smith
Call to Order: Chairman Tischbein called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m.
Speakers: Vice Chairman Krieg then introduced Dr. Frank Dunbar, Provost, Regional Program Planning, Wayne County Community College District. Dunbar welcomed the group to the downtown campus of the college, one of five campuses that make up WCCC. The four year unit is in Harper Woods. Dunbar, who spent many years in Southern California, noted that Detroit and Los Angeles are similar in many ways, especially in their love for automobiles. Now, as Los Angeles, Detroit is picking up on light rail.
The initiative for WCCC to offer the new Light Rail Engineering Technology: Electromechanical curriculum comes from the school’s chancellor, Dr. Curtis Ivery, who sits on the Regional Transportation Authority’s Board. Ivery saw a dearth of programs designed to train local residents in operation and maintenance of the M-1 streetcar system and asked Dunbar to take the lead in designing a new course of study. As part of the program, students will begin maintaining the new streetcars as soon as they arrive in Detroit.
Dunbar pointed out that maintenance and operation of light rail and streetcar systems is quite similar to other rail systems, so the training that WCCC graduates will receive should give them a leg up on rail jobs anywhere in North America. Among specific classes being offered will be “Rail Transportation and Railroad Careers”; “Railroad Rules, Regulations, Standards and Practices”; “Safety in the Railroad Workplace”; “Reading and Interpreting Railroad Diagrams”, “Railroad Pneumatics and Hydraulic Controls”; “Railroad HVAC Systems”; and “Railroad Electromechanical Troubleshooting”. These plus several Electrical Engineering, physics and humanities courses will lead to a degree of Associate of Applied Science.
Dunbar then turned the program over to Howard Smith, who will be the lead instructor for the new course of study. According to Smith, railroads across both the United States and Canada, are looking for well motivated employees to replace current workers who will be retiring in large numbers in the coming years and they are willing to pay well. The total package including salary and benefits for railroad employees comes to $108,900 annually as opposed to $67,700 for the average U.S. worker.
In addition to the M-1 streetcar project, Michigan has 4,400 miles of railroad track, and hosts four major North American railroads, two regional railroads, and 15 short line operations.
Among railroads hiring at this time are Amtrak, BNSF, CN, CP, CSX, NS and UP. Many current employees are nearing retirement and will need to be replaced by skilled workers. Smith, who has worked in the railroad industry since 1965, will be able to offer the students a wealth of practical knowledge. In addition to classroom work, student will spend time in the field at the Norfolk Southern Control Center and similar sites. Dunbar asked members of MARP to aid in promoting the new program.
Tim Hoeffner noted that all rail companies have their specific training programs, but are looking for well motivated candidates with basic skills. As a specific project, he pointed to the People Mover, which will need a major overhaul in the near future.
Adjournment: Krieg moved adjournment of the Executive Committee Meeting so we could move on to the General Membership Meeting. Langdon seconded the motion and the Executive Meeting was adjourned at 11:12 a.m.
Respectfully submitted: Accepted:
Hugh D. Gurney Robert Tischbein