Category Archives: Minutes

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – October 9, 2018

MARP Executive Committee Minutes
09 October 2018
Conference Call, 7:00-8:15pm

712-770-8041   code 426600

Present: Tom Purmort, Kay Chase, Robert Tischbein, Mark Miller, John Langdon,

Absent: Steve Vagnozzi, Robert Patterson, Charles Shong, Adam Tauno Williams, Joshua Hamilton

Call to Order at 7:10 pm

Quorum lacking

Update on Annual Meeting Planning     Annual meeting announcements mailed to all 2017-18 members, announcements and complete registration information is on the website, Oct ON TRACK will prominently promote annual meeting registration, email blast “last call for registrations” will go out mid-month. Contacts have been made with additional speakers: Bob Johnston (Trains Magazine), Joe Shacter (Amtrak), James Bruckbauer (A2TC Project). Langdon will be sending email invites to Senators Stabenow and Peters, Rep Debbie Dingell (who will be given opportunity to speak), the State Senator and Representative representing Dearborn area, Barry Murray (Dearborn Economic Development), and a number of allies and friends.

Langdon: Amtrak is putting additional trains on at Thanksgiving, Pere Marquette only as far as Holland, Wolverine only as far as Ann Arbor.

A2TC report has been in the news today, was released yesterday. Titled “Northern Michigan Passenger Rail Study”, it may be accessed at:

Budget adjustments – Donations of $500 (America By Rail) and $350 ( John Guidinger for printing Michigan time tables) need to be credited to the Annual Meeting and Outreach Budget lines, respectively

Nominating committee – still seeking candidates for West Region Chair and Secretary

Membership Committee – Purmort will have more to say at Annual Meeting about targets and strategies for increasing membership

North Region Report from Miller:    Attending a 3 day meeting of model RR group, stopping off at Chambers of Commerce along the way. Difficulty getting to Chambers when they’re open. Met Bryan Boyle of Issues Media and pitched A2TC as a possible story.

Langdon:   Meeting with Indian Trails next week. Asks Mark to document his mileage, with the possibility of getting some reimbursement for expenses (via a grant).

West Region Report: Purmort & Langdon will attend meeting tomorrow of the West Michigan Prosperity Alliance Public Engagement and Grant Prioritization Meeting, at which the public will vote on projects to be awarded grants. West Michigan Express Pilot Project (WMX) is one of six projects in the running. Optimistic about gaining the grant, which will enable a survey of all employees in businesses along the route with 50 or more employees in order to gage need and potential use of a proposed rapid transit line linking Grand Rapids and Holland.

Miller:   Need to strategize outreach to colleges & universities and also reach out to young professionals.  Langdon:  Larger firms often have a person who coordinates/arranges travel.
Chase:   At the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission (MIPRC) meeting just attended, Derrick James spoke and during Q&A talked about the robust, very targeted social media efforts of Amtrak. Chase surmises that Amtrak may be doing a pretty good job of connecting with young professionals.

Chase:   Brief remarks on MIPRC annual meeting in Milwaukee last week. FRA-led Midwest Regional Rail Study consultants are still writing up, FRA will review it, uncertainty about when and how it will be released, likely not before 2019. Melissa Hatcher, FRA, said that PTC issues continue to delay introduction of the new Charger locomotives to the Wolverine and Blue Water routes. When the technical issues are resolved, there will be a period of training/testing before revenue service begins. Don’t expect before next summer.

Langdon:   Distribution of “Ride the Rails to Michigan Trails” posters is pretty well finished. Looking toward a June kickoff, Michigan Trails magazine will be working with us, will put an ad in the magazine. May have to seek additional money for a second printing of the poster.

The 3,000 Timetables printed on the initiative of John Guidinger are out to most stations. Everyone is appreciative.

Miller:   has talked with someone from Alpena newspaper and has sent information in hopes she will write an article on passenger trains and thruway connections.

Adjourn: 8:10 pm

Respectfully submitted,

                       Kay Chase                                             Steve Vagnozzi_________________   Acting Secretary                                                          Chair



Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – September 11, 2018

MARP Executive Committee
Phone Conference Call
11 September 2018, 7:00-8:15pm

Present:  Steve Vagnozzi, Tom Purmort, John Langdon, Adam Tauno Williams, Kay Chase, Joshua Hamilton

Absent: Charles Shong, Robert Tischbein, Robert Patterson, Mark Miller

Call to Order: Meeting called to order at 7:03 pm. Vagnozzi asked Purmort to preside.

Approval of Minutes: Minutes of May 29 and July 28 meetings approved with two corrections:

  • May 29, budget discussion on page two, should read “Langdon moves, Miller seconds, to amend the motion to add $500 grant to DUSI, and change “Dues To” line item to $425 (from $400).”
  • July 28, under V.(b) Southwest Chief letter, strike “that the transfers at Dodge City would take place at 5:25 am and 12:27 am; also”. The sentence will then read “Following discussion, motion passed unanimously with the addition that the letter be cc’ed to the entire Michigan Congressional delegation.

Art Prize Event on 28 September: Will take place 6:30-9:00pm, 28 September, at One Bourbon, 608 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids MI 49504 and feature Elaine S. Wilson who will talk about her series of paintings “Charting the Wolverine”. Williams states he is modeling the event on one often used by non-profits to network and raise money. He has reached out to a number of transportation-related groups in Grand Rapids via social media. Tickets offered online at no cost, but a donation of $15 is suggested. Our expenses will be covered if at least 30 people respond. Information is on the MARP Facebook page:

October member meeting: There will be no member meeting in October since the Annual Meeting occurs in early November. Executive committee will have a conference call on October 9.

Annual Meeting:  Scheduled for November 10, 10am-2pm, O’Kelly’s Banquet Hall, Dearborn MI. Keynote speaker will be Paul Larouche, a retired Bombardier Sr. Mgt.  Engineer. Suggestions for other speakers: MDOT, Amtrak, Rick Harnish, James Bruckbauer. Vagnozzi reminds that MDOT is traditionally invited to speak at the January meeting.  Langdon suggests 2 or 3 short presentations under the umbrella of Michigan By Rail: West Michigan Express, A2TC. Appointed to work with Williams on the Annual Meeting. Langdon, Chase. Cost will be $25. Langdon contacted Jim Wallington who is not optimistic that Larry Swartz will make a donation this year to cover speaker expenses.

Nominating committee: Vagnozzi will contact Clark Charnetski, Steve Sobel and Hugh Gurney by 20th September about serving as the nominating committee.

Membership committee: Committee established by Resolution with one of the four At-Large Executive Committee members (currently Robert Tischbein) as Coordinator. Decision to defer naming of committee members until new slate of officers is named in November. Purmort will reach out to Tischbein to see if he is on same page and prepared to move forward with activating a committee.

Budget Committee: Vagnozzi, as Treasurer, will chair. Will reach out to Mark Miller and Hugh Gurney who served last year.

Regional Chair Reports:

Hamilton:   Spoke to caretaker at East Lansing station to get an idea what MARP could do to make the passenger experience better in the absence of station agents. Traveled to Port Huron and observed that many passengers are first-timers and are confused and apprehensive. Suggests developing a poster with FAQs, maybe a video on how to ride the train. Also spoke with Nick Little and Andreas Hoffrichter, MSU Rail Program, about getting on campus for a MARP sponsored event.  Vagnozzi will work with Hamilton to design something for the electronic boards in KAL, BTL, PNT. Hamilton asks who to contact at Amtrak about doing a “how-to-ride-the-train” video. Langdon will brief Hamilton on working with Amtrak. Also suggests he get acquainted with the station caretakers and volunteers involved in the bikes on trains poster campaign.

Other reports:

Langdon:   Reports great success and excellent volunteer effort in distributing “Ride the Rails to Michigan Trails” posters. Success in working with residence hall directors in gaining access to campuses. A major benefit of this project is to demonstrate to MDOT Office of Rail that MARP can mobilize and successfully carry out a project. MDOT paid for printing the posters and may do another round in the spring. Chase mentions the MDOT and Trails Magazine websites that have detailed trail maps and excellent information. Wonders how this information might be conveyed along with the posters.

Langdon:  Reports that MARP will give a grant of $500 out of our MEC Michigan By Rail grant funds to support West Michigan Express in conducting a survey.

Langdon:  Reports that John Guidinger has asked MARP to collaborate in printing 3,000 Michigan train schedules to be distributed to all stations. The $700 cost will be covered with $350 from the Outreach budget and $350 from Guidinger via a “grant” to MARP.  Amtrak and MDOT have given the OK to place in stations.

Vagnozzi:   Reports that he has received no response from Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson to our letter regarding the proposal to segment the route of the Southwest Chief, transferring passengers to buses between Dodge City KS and Albuquerque NM. The letter was also sent to the Michigan Congressional delegation last week. No response at this time.

Purmort:  Will develop a matrix for managing action items and as a guide to keep moving forward. He will send this to executive committee members.

Meeting adjourned at 8:17pm.

Respectfully submitted,

                       Kay Chase                                             Steve Vagnozzi_________________   Acting Secretary                                                          Chair


Meeting Minutes — DURAND – July 28, 2018

MARP Executive Committee Meeting
Durand Union Station
28 July 2018

Present: Steve Vagnozzi, Robert Patterson, John Langdon, Kay Chase, Adam Tauno Williams, Mark Miller (arrive 11:00), Charles Shong (arrive 11:00)

Absent: Robert Tischbein

Guests: Dan Platz (co-coordinator, with Robert Tischbein, of Membership Committee), Joshua Hamilton (candidate for East/Central Region Chair); Tom Purmort (candidate for Vice-Chair); Barb Spaulding-Westcott (Crossroads Village-Huckleberry Railroad)

  1. Call to Order: 10:40 am Quorum is present (5 of 8), 2 more members arrived at 11am
  2. Approval of Agenda: Vagnozzi asks to remove item IV.f related to reimbursement for certain outreach expenses. Williams moves, Langdon seconds, to approve agenda with the deletion. Unanimously approved.

III. Approval of Minutes of the 28 May 2018 Meeting: Deferred approval since the minutes were not sent out

  1. Discussion Items


  1. Williams – Remaining 2018 Meetings

During the Grand Rapids Art Prize, September 19 to October 7, planning a MARP  “event” that will be widely promoted to GVSU students and the community at large. Purmort suggests partnering with West Michigan Express in promoting the MARP “event”.
Annual Meeting will be held in Dearborn.

Attempts to make contact with Universities to hold MARP events on campus have been unproductive. Chase suggests making contact with a specific campus group. MARP members with .edu email addresses could also be an avenue for making contact.

  1. b) Membership and Executive Committee Recruitment

Election of officers takes place at the Annual Meeting in even-numbered years. Langdon asks Chair to appoint a nominating committee.

Vagnozzi willing to continue as chair until the fall election of officers, but will not seek a 2nd term. He will also assume, with agreement of executive committee, the duties of treasurer until a replacement is found for Stewart Bolinger, whose letter of resignation was submitted to the committee today. Committee concurs.

Chase distributes list of members who have attended one or more meetings. This may be helpful in identifying potential candidates. She will add hometowns, arrange by region and email to committee members.

  1. c) Treasurer’s report

As of 25 July, total receipts are $6,522, disbursements are $4,435.  Donations ($257) are lagging, but may pick up with year-end appeal.  Dues receipts from 152 renewals and 12 new members total $4,800.  93 of the 2017 members have not yet renewed. $500 Grant to Durand Union Station, Inc., has been paid, as well as dues to Transportation Riders United (TRU), Midwest High Speed Rail Assoc. (MHSRA), and Michigan Environmental Council (MEC). Rail Passengers Association dues are pending. Major expenses include The Michigan Passenger newspaper, outreach and governmental affairs activities. Checking Account Reconciliation Summary show a bank balance of $12,521.

The Vanguard investment fund was valued at around $24,700 at the end of March.

Langdon gives background on the Michigan by Rail project, a line item in the budget, and the MEC grant MARP receives to support our work on this initiative (Coast-to-Coast, A2TC, Wally). With a new legislature in January 2019, there will be a significant effort with “meet’n greets”, emphasizing progress with passenger transportation, “last mile” concerns, Amtrak Thruway services.

  1. d) Executive Committee Member Reports

Charles Shong, West Regional Chair: compiling a list of Colleges in the west region and making contacts particularly with student groups – distributed The Michigan Passenger to various locations around the region – wonders about a questionnaire to candidates –  developing a fact sheet to give to candidates – Vagnozzi will work with Shong in developing a fact sheet, send to Chase  for comment

Kay Chase, Communications Coordinator: Deadline for submissions for the Autumn issue of The Michigan Passenger is mid-September. Purmort volunteers to write the “From the Boardroom” column. Williams will submit an article for use in either the newspaper or ON TRACK.

Robert Patterson, Detroit/Metro Region Chair: distributes copies of a Resolution circulated by RailPac, suggesting it be adapted to Michigan.

John Langdon, Governmental and Public Affairs Coordinator: special trains for Holland Tulip Time successful – 270+ passengers per train – doesn’t know what the revenue was – success bolsters argument for a 2nd frequency on the PM – 10 station staff people have retired and been replaced with caretakers (Amtrak agents cost $120,000 per year, caretakers about $20,000) – Charger locomotives will decrease operating costs of Michigan trains – Michigan budget is not transparent, thus difficult to know exactly what is budgeted for trains – entire Amtrak network now bike friendly – MARP can help distribute flyers to bike shops, stations, etc. – suggestion that MARP partner with Michigan League of Bicyclists to get the word out

  1. e) MDOT Draft Five-Year Transportation Program Input

Vagnozzi asks Purmort to look over the document, specifically the rail sections, with idea of developing “official” MARP comment. In the meantime, individuals may submit their own comments. Shong points out that updates are done each year to guide project implementation over the next 5 years. The rail portion is very general, focusing on the budgetary implications of implementation.

12:25 pm    short break

12:43 pm reconvene

  1. Action Items


  1. a) Filling Vacancies (Vice-Chair and East/Central Regional Chair)

    Williams moves, Miller seconds, to approve Tom Purmort to fill the vacant vice-chair position. Unanimously approved.

Langdon moves, Williams seconds, to approve Joshua Hamilton to fill vacant East/Central Region chair position. Unanimously approved.

Hamilton suggests MARP look at the student activities area in the MSU Student Union where we might be able to display materials; also think about raffling a ticket to Chicago. Vagnozzi asks Hamilton to pursue this idea.

Shong – suggests outreach at Capitol Farmer’s Market (CATA Clean Air Commute displays here) – Vagnozzi will make contact with CATA.

  1. b) Southwest Chief Letter to Amtrak CEO

    Hugh Gurney has drafted a letter to Amtrak CEO, Richard Anderson, protesting plans to break the route of the Southwest Chief into three sections, with passengers transferring to buses for the Dodge City KS to Albuquerque NM section. The letter would be cc’ed to Anthony Coscia, President of the Amtrak Board, and Jim Matthews, CEO of Rail Passengers Association.

Williams moves, Langdon seconds, to approve sending the letter. Following discussion, motion passed unanimously with the addition that the letter be cc’ed to the entire Michigan Congressional delegation.

  1. c) Committee agrees that it is not necessary to revise the budget at this time
  2. d) Other

Platz suggests promoting MARP’s 45th Anniversary with appeal to members to donate $1 for each year they have been a member. Vagnozzi suggests an alternative: “suggest” a donation of $45 and recognize individuals donating that amount in the Annual Meeting program.

Discussion of possible election activities: develop a candidate questionnaire and publish responses (Chase points out that 501(c)3 organizations are advised caution in doing this); develop a briefing paper to be distributed to all gubernatorial and legislative candidates.

Discussion of an action alert to our members who have “opted-in”. Chase will pull out talking points from the SW Chief letter, circulate to EC and then send to the “opt-in” members

  1. Adjournment – Meeting adjourned at 1:20 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


                       Kay Chase                                             Steve Vagnozzi_________________                                                                  

Acting Secretary                                                          Chair

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes — Conference Call – May 29, 2018

MARP Executive Committee
Conference Call
29 May, 2018
7:30 pm – 8:45 pm

Members Present:  Steve Vagnozzi, John Langdon, Adam Tauno Williams, Kay Chase, Mark Miller

Members Absent: Stewart Bolinger, Robert Tischbein, Charles Shong, Robert Patterson

Call to Order at 7:34 pm

Approval of Minutes for 16 January, 20 February, 20 March, and 17  April:
Vagnozzi moves, Langdon seconds

Discussion: Langdon asks to change wording in March 20 minutes information item about possible sale of CSX holdings in Michigan to read: “CP may be Interested in certain SE Michigan holdings.”

Motion to approve January-April minutes with this change given unanimous approval

Chase asks that Vagnozzi add approval of minutes to his Meeting Agenda template

Proposed 2018 Budget

Williams moves, Langdon seconds, approval of the proposed 2018 budget

Vagnozzi: budgeted amounts are based on 2017 spending

Langdon: dues paid to 4 organizations should be $425, not $400 as on the document sent out 5/28

Langdon: budget document sent 5/28 does not show $500 grant to DUSI   was it an oversight or purposely left out

Miller: believes it was left off because we will not be holding the annual meeting there in 2018

Chase: historic stations are part of our mission – we have made this donation for years

Langdon:  our free use for annual meeting was not predicated on our donation

Williams: OK with continuing to donate $500 to Durand

Miller: should we rotate to another station or museum?

Vagnozzi: comfortable with it for this year – reconsider in the future

Other concerns:

Miller: Outreach is budgeted for $290 less than last year     won’t allow for reimbursement for mileage for dropping off brochures around the North region

Langdon:  Chad Cushman, Indian Trails CEO, has indicated he may be willing to cover these expenses; need to follow up on this

Vagnozzi: doesn’t appear we will run over the $960 budget amount; we are running a deficit, so leave as is

Langdon: MEC has verbally committed to another $5,000 grant

Chase: asks what is intended for the Social Media line item of $1000 when only $159 was spent in 2017 – Adam recalls submitting a budget request for about $750, but doesn’t have the specific breakdown – it costs $30-$50 for a facebook boost for selected events, 600-1200 people are reached – Chase questions boosting the Annual Meeting when we don’t’ get anyone outside of MARP attending as a result

Langdon moves, Miller seconds, to amend the motion to add $500 grant to DUSI, and change “Dues To” line item to $425 (from $400)

Amended 2018 budget approved: yeas  Miller, Langdon, Williams, Vagnozzi     abstain Chase

Langdon moves, Miller seconds to:

“Approve expenditures of $499.99 or less with the approval of the designated Category Manager & the Treasurer. All disbursements of funds must reflect that the budget Category balance is available in the appropriate budget and have followed the Michigan Association of Railroad  Passengers Best Practices Guide “The – Who – What – and -How MARP Task: Paying MARP Expenses.”

Vagnozzi clarifies who managers are for each budget category – no discussion – motion passes unanimously

Chase questions whether the budget can be approved with only 4 yeas – Vagnozzi will determine what Roberts Rules has to say


Vagnozzi:    asks approval to  appoint Joshua Hamilton  to the position of East/Central chair – Miller asks that we obtain a resume and interview him before making the appointment – Vagnozzi will meet with him, share the position description with him, ask him to come to July EC meeting

Williams:   will send an electronic copy of the map outlining MARP’s four regions – Miller suggests putting it on the website

Langdon:   reports that Tulip Train ridership was around 170 on each weekend – the train to the Senior PGA Tournament in Benton Harbor was 125 passengers – MDOT/Amtrak will decide whether those numbers justify moving forward with a special train for Grand Rapids Art Prize in September

Miller:   asks what we need to do to follow up on the student outreach effort talked about at the January and April meetings – so far all efforts to get responses from universities contacted have not born fruit

Respectfully submitted,


_____Kay Chase_____________________         _____Steve Vagnozzi_____________________

Kay Chase, Acting Secretary                                           Steve Vagnozzi, Chair

Meeting Minutes — DETROIT – April 21, 2018

Membership Meeting
MSU Detroit Center, 3408 Woodward Ave.
21 April 2018

 Members: Charley  Bonnell, Clark  Charnetski, Kay  Chase, Mary Jo Durivage, John  Langdon, Chuck Merckel, Jeanie Merckel, Mark  Miller, Diane  Patterson, Robert  Patterson, Dan  Platz, Yuri  Popov, David Roberts, Bob  Tischbein, Doug  Wilson

Guests:  Mason Herson-Hord (Motor City Freedom Riders), Megan Owens (Transportation Riders United), Sue Lonier (MSU Rail Program), Robert Troutman

Call to Order: 10:06 am

Safety Briefing & Attendee Introductions

Order of Business: A. Williams moves, Langdon seconds, approved s presented.

Financial Report:  Vagnozzi displays slide showing expenditures as of 31 December 2017. Expenses exceeded revenues by $1750. The current balance in the checking account is around $14,000. The current value of the Vanguard investment account (otherwise known as the Pratt Fund) was not available.

Executive Committee Reports

Adam Tauno Williams, Meetings Coordinator: The executive committee will meet 14 July at Durand Union Station. The Annual Michigan Rail Conference is scheduled for August 7-9. Two MARP-sponsored events are in the planning stages for September: one during Art Prize in Grand Rapids and the other a student event at Central Michigan University. The Annual Meeting is scheduled for November. All meetings will be posted on the website as well as on the Facebook page accessible from the webpage.

John Langdon. Governmental Affairs Coordinator: The FY2018-19 transportation budget has been approved by the appropriations subcommittees of both the House and Senate. Funding for Michigan train services appears to be in good shape. MDOT and Amtrak are partnering to provide an extra round trip between Chicago and Holland MI, with an extra stop in Hammond Whiting, to provide service to and from the Tulip Festival on May 5 and 12. A similar extra round trip will be provided on May 26 for visitors to the Senior PGA Tournament in Benton Harbor. Train #371 will make a special station stop at Hammond-Whiting on May 6, 13 and 27 to accommodate those wishing to stay overnight after these events.

Mark Miller, North Region Chair:  He, Langdon and Charles Shong recently worked train shows in Mount Pleasant and Grand Rapids. Charnetski will be working the Mayor’s Green Fair in Ann Arbor in June.

Robert Patterson, Detroit-Metro Region Chair: Provided two handouts outlining a framework for MARP advocacy in a political climate in which we need to depend less on Amtrak and more on ourselves to achieve the kind of service we want.

Robert Tischbein, Membership Coordnator: All members have been notified—by  email or snail mail—that 2018 dues are due.

Update of Status of Intercity Rail Projects provided by John Langdon:

  1. The feasibility study for the Ann Arbor to Traverse City project (A2TC) is about half completed. The consultant was astonished by the projected increase in recreational travel to northern Michigan in the next 20 years. The legislature is considering making $2 million available to upgrade the track between Kingsley and Traverse City to benefit current freight operations as well as to enable operation of excursion trains on the line.
  2. The feasibility study for the proposed Coast-to-Coast service connecting Detroit-Ann Arbor-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Holland was completed in 2016. Next steps will involve determining costs and a timetable for implementation.
  3. Made public recently is a proposal for a West Michigan Express route serving the communities of Grand Rapids, Grandville, Hudsonville, Zeeland and Holland. A study was initiated by Hudsonville City Manager Patrick Waterman and funded by entities along the route. Service would likely start with Bus Rapid Transit to assess viability before committing to commuter rail. MARP has been asked to join the steering committee guiding this process.

Program: What’s Next for Regional Transit in Southeast Michigan?

Introduction of Speakers: Megan Owens, Executive Director of Transit Riders United (TRU) and Mason Herson-Hord, organizer for Motor City Freedom Riders.

Transportation Riders United has worked for more than a decade to get more and better transportation options for the people of SE Michigan, a region that invests the least of any comparable metro region in the country. Although the 2016 millage vote to support a comprehensive regional plan was narrowly defeated, it “demonstrated that 800,000-plus people were willing to tax themselves to improve their transportation options.” Thus there is hope that a revised plan recently put forward by Wayne and Washtenaw county executives could succeed if agreement is reached with Oakland and Macomb counties to put the measure on the ballot this fall.

The Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail is an important element of the proposed plan. Other parts of the plan address concerns that arose with the previous proposal, primarily by giving flexibility to fund local needs in less urbanized parts of the four-county area. Major elements of the plan: 15 routes with 15-minute frequency, 24 hours a day; 4 express to the airport; 11 commuter routes along major corridors

If agreement cannot be reached with Oakland and Macomb counties, there is support for a “Plan B” in which Wayne and Washtenaw counties would seek voter approval to fund and implement parts of the plan.

Herson-Hord provided background on the Motor City Freedom Riders founded four years ago to empower bus riders and assure that the voices of those who use transit services have a say in decisions about those services. The organization seeks to build momentum towards a regional system, but also tackles more local issues such as adding bus shelters or restoring an abandoned route. A training program for riders who want to affect the political process provides monthly bus passes to those who have completed this training to enable them to do outreach on buses.

In response to a question about how Freedom Riders interfaces with the service providers, Herson-Hord said, “We’re their best friends, but also their worst enemy.”  It is gratifying that DDOT talks with the group and shares information, but the group strives to keep a certain “adversarial” distance. Canvassing in the transit center is a legally protected activity. Freedom Riders trainees engage informally with fellow riders on the bus. Owens mentions that service providers do value the advocacy work that helps the public understand the needs.

Some points made in the ensuing Q&A:

  • Some indication of a more cooperative management attitude toward public transit serving the airport
  • Consideration being given to complementing the proposed 8 daily Detroit-Ann Arbor trains with express bus service
  • August 14 is the deadline for getting the funding measure on the fall ballot
  • Michigan Constitutional limits on sales tax and on local government taxing authority handicap expansion of services
  • Anecdotal evidence of increased ridership with the introduction of FAST buses providing express service along Gratiot, Woodward and Michigan; SMART is starting to actively promote the service [NOTE: The Macomb Daily, on 20 April, reported that the 3 routes have seen overall increases of 20% on weekdays, 15% on Saturdays, 27% on Sundays. Riders are taking over 10,000 additional trips on these corridors every week.]

Discussion Time

Yuri Popov asked that MARP send a letter to the University of Michigan asking for reinstatement of a downtown Detroit stop for the Detroit Connector service between the Ann Arbor campus and the UM Detroit Center in Mid-town. The service has recently been opened to the general public but the lack of a downtown Detroit stop may fail to draw the general public and thus impact revenues adversely.

The meeting adjourned at 11:45 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

______Kay Chase________________           _____Steve Vagnozzi_______________

Kay Chase, Acting Secretary                                           Steve Vagnozzi, Chair