Category Archives: Minutes

Minutes – February 10, 2007 – Durand

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Executive Committee Meeting Minutes


Date:  Saturday, February 10, 2007


Location:  Durand, Michigan


Attendees:  Mike Whims, Michael Frezell, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, John Langdon, Andrew Kent, Jim Hinkins, Burton TenBrink, Kazuya Fujita, Norma Ward, Bunnie Surtz, Steve Sobel, and Therese Cody.

  1. 1.                 Chair Whims called the meeting to order at 10:09 am as an Executive Committee meeting with a special thanks to Norma and Bunnie for flowers and cookies.


  1. 2.                 The minutes from the January 2007 meeting were approved.


  1. 3.                 Treasurer’s Report:  Treasurer Dave Randall reported as of January 31, 2007 there was $167.63 in expenses and a final balance of $1,904.41. MARP received $227 in dues.  The Pratt fund had a balance of $14,786.84.  The treasurer’s report was accepted by a motion from John Langdon and seconded by Steve Sobel.


  1. 4.                 Presentation on Blue Water marketing activity & MDOT Update:  Marci Fogal, Executive Director, Blue Water Convention & Visitor’s Bureau was ill and could not attend the meeting.  Therese Cody (MDOT) reported that Marci’s organization is doing billboards to promote the Blue Water service. They are also creating maps and brochures.  MDOT is interested in community oriented marketing for trains.  Grant money of $50,000 is available now for marketing.  Therese handed out Michigan ridership results for January 2007 with a comparison to January 2006.  The report showed the Blue Water had 8.6% increase, the Pere Marquette a 13.3% increase, and the Wolverines a 6.6%.  Ticket revenue results showed the Blue Water a 13.1% increase, the Pere Marquette a 12.8% increase, and the Wolverines a 10.2% increase.  Alex Kummant (Amtrak President and CEO) is scheduled to meet with Michigan’s Governor Granholm on February 14, 2007.     


  1. 5.                 Regional Reports


    1. Central/Eastern Region:  Dick Pekarek reports the Blue Water train # 364 on February 5, 2007 and # 365 on February 6, 2007 were cancelled due to extreme cold weather and shortage of rail cars per Amtrak News release.  Chartered buses were used as alternate.  On Time Performance (OTP) of # 365 for the period of January 13, 2007 through February 9, 2007 (26 days – except February 5, 2007 and February 6, 2007) was as follows:  Average Chicago arrival time was 50 minutes late with arrival time ranging from on-time to two hours and 40 minutes late.  Majority of delays on Canadian National track mainly Port Huron to East Lansing with a couple delays occurring between East Lansing and Battle Creek. Lapeer station is tentatively reserved for the July 2007 MARP meeting.  The membership agreed on July 14, 2007 as the official date.
    2. Western Region:  John Langdon. Waiting rooms are not large enough to accommodate passengers at some Pere Marquette route stations.  There have been no Pere Marquette train cancellations due to cold weather.  CSX is upgrading the signaling from Porter, Indiana to Plymouth, Michigan.  The city of Holland is converting the bus system from a city run operation to an authority.  There is talk of putting track edge on the Holland station platform.  
    3. Northern Region:  Andrew Kent reported about a Bluewater Chapter excursion from Gaylord to West Branch.  Canadian Pacific dome car owner, whose car is stored in Saginaw, is trying to do some excursions.  Nothing to report on the June meeting location.  The membership agreed the meeting could be held in Durand on June 16, 2007 if no northern Michigan location is selected.  
    4. Metro Detroit:  Chair Whims reported the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter train is proceeding but nothing new to report.  Reportedly, there is discussion with Amtrak. He announced that Michigan Day in Chicago is May 16, 2007, and he, Dick Pekarek and John Langdon will represent MARP.


  1. 6.                 Committee Reports

c.a.                       Outreach Committee:  Vice Chair Michael Frezell discussed outreach events and passed a schedule to members.

d.b.                      Route Enhancement Committee:  None

e.c.                       “Ride the Train Michigan” Committee:  Meeting after lunch.

  1. d.     Nominating Committee:  Andrew Kent reported Mike Whims is stepping down as chair.  Dave Randall is seeking re-election as treasurer.  Dick Pekarek is not seeking re-election.  John Langdon is seeking re-election as Western Michigan Chapter Chair.  Clark Chartnetski is seeking re-election as At-Large Executive.  


7.   Old Business

b.a.          Newspaper Planning:  Chair Whims reported for newspaper editor J.R. Valderas that there would be no winter edition.  March 24, 2007 is the deadline for the Spring 2007 issue, which will be produced as a 12-page publication.  Possible stories for the newsletter include proposed rail service on the Great Lakes Central (former TSBY), moving the Clare depot, proposed Troy-Birmingham Transit Center, proposed Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail service, New Buffalo to receive new Amtrak service, and Ann Arbor to Traverse City passenger service.  J.R. is seeking help from the membership for any news stories (Michigan related), editorial, and photos.  Patterson suggested doing a small newsletter like All Aboard Ohio.  John Langdon volunteered to print one on his computer.  There was discussion on going back to 8 ½” x 11” format.  There was a question from Kaz about surveying members.  A story idea about Chicago Metra train connectivity was discussed.    

  1. b.                 Future Meeting Locations:  April 14, 2007 – Downtown Royal Oak at Woody’s Diner; May 12, 2007 – Holland; June – Durand as backup to northern Michigan; July 14, 2007 – Lapeer; August 11 or 18, 2007 – St Joseph (tentative); September 8, 2007 (annual meeting) – Durand or Lansing.  Norma Ward volunteered to chair the annual meeting committee if Durand is selected.  Cost of the banquet hall at Durand is an issue to be resolved.
  2. c.                  Report of MARP/Amtrak operation meeting:  Chair Whims provided a verbal report of the meeting held with Amtrak operations on February 1 in Detroit.       
  1. New Business    
    1. Passenger Rail Funding:  Chair Whims provided a report on federal and state funding.  For FY 2007, continuing resolution (HJ Res. 20) freezes funding at $1.294 billion, same as FY 2006.  The Amtrak board had asked for $1.873 billion under its “full” request, or $1.597 billion under its “basic” request.   For FY 2008, President Bush has asked for $0.800 billion in direct Amtrak support as follows

Operating Support – $0

Food & Beverage Suport – $0

Capital Grants – $500 million

Efficiency Incentive Grants – $300 million

FY 2007 state support for Amtrak operating subsidy is not to exceed revenues generated, with a cap of $7.1 million.  

    1. Meet Your Legislator Day:  John Langdon will represent MARP for “meet your legislator day” on February 14 in Lansing.  This event is organized by the “Let’s Get Moving” Coalition, of which MARP is a member.
    2. Legislature Committee Members:  Chair Whims reported the names of new state legislature committee members, particularly in appropriations and transportation.   


  1. General Member Comments:  

c.a.                       Charnetski reported Ann Arbor north board US 23 will be worked on first this year.  There is a plan to run a commuter train either from Whitmore Lake or Howell to about one mile north of the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

Adjourned at 12:19 pm


Respectfully Submitted Michael Frezell, Vice Chairman.


APPROVED:   _____________________               ___________________

                      Mike Whims                                John DeLora

                      Chairman                                   Executive Director


                    Michael Frezell

                    Vice Chairman

Minutes – January 13, 2007 – Lansing

Minutes of General Membership Meeting

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Lansing Public Library

Lansing, Michigan

Attendees Who Signed In: Executive Committee – Michael Whims, Michael Frezell,
John Langdon, Clark Charnetski, Dave Randall, Dick Pekarek, Kay Chase, J.R.
Valderas, Kaz Fujita, Andrew Kent. Members – Hugh Gurney, Don Monteith, Steve Sobel, Dave VanderBee, Samuel Chupp, Jim Hinkins, Robert Patterson

Others Present: Tim Hoeffner, Cecile Shoulders, Matt Marderosian, Celeste Shoulders

Call to Order: Chairman Whims declared there was a quorum for conducting a General Membership Meeting and called the meeting to order at 10:05 a.m.

Approval of Minutes of the November 18, 2006 Meeting in Ann Arbor. After correcting the spelling of Clark Charnetski’s name, approval of the minutes was moved by Langdon and seconded by Sobel. Approved.

Executive Director Report: None. John DeLora was absent.

Financial Report – Dave Randal gave the Financial Report. Balance in the JP Morgan Chase checking account was $1,845.04 as of December 31, 2006. Value of the AIVSX American Funds investment was $14,578.02 as of December 31, 2006. There was a net loss of $231.33 on the October Fun Train excursion, mostly due to the costs of promoting the trip to members. After a brief discussion, it was the consensus of the group that we should do something similar in 2007, but keep the costs of promotion down.

A motion to approve the Treasurers Report was made by Charnetski, seconded by Valderas and approved.

Randall continues to work on a donation of publishing software by Adobe, but fears MARP may not meet their criteria for donations.

Randall is having the Membership Renewal postcards reprinted for membership to our membrship base. Chupp offered to help with a grass roots effort to expand membership on a low key basis, mainly through sharing ideas in telephone conference calls.

(Guest) Michigan Department of Transportation comments – Tim Hoeffner from MDOT reported that ridership and revenue on both the Pere Marquette and Blue Water lines were doing well and should meet the requirements for continued state support during the 2007 budget year. MDOT is pushing FRA for approval of the proposed new platform at New Buffalo. Hoeffner feels there is a good chance that a commuter rail demonstration project may actually happen in Southeast Michigan and urged MARP and sister organizations to support such efforts. The recognition that commuter rail would have helped during the Super Bowl and the success of last summer’s Tiger Trains have business leaders and SEMGOG in a more positive frame of mind. Hoeffner alerted MARP members of an editorial that will be in the Sunday, January 14, edition of the Detroit Free Press, and positive comments to the paper are always welcome.

Hoeffner reported that no one from Michigan has yet been appointed to the Midwest High Speed Rail Compact, which the state of Michigan recently joined.

As for 2008, Hoeffner reminded the group of the large impending deficit in the state budget. How that will impact state support for rail transportation remains to be seen.

(Guest) Save Our Trains comments – Matt Maraerosian urged MARP to support the efforts of Save Our Trains to add a cafe car to the Pere Marquette trains, have the Grand
Rapids station staffed and improve conditions at the East Lansing station. He said that with up to 150 passengers boarding per train, plus Greyhound and Indian Trails passengers, the East Lansing station is far too small.

Regional Reports
>East Central Region –
Richard Pekareck reported that Blue Water ridership and revenue continue to increase. A very positive editorial last Thanksgiving in the Flint Journal titled “Reconsider Rail” noted the ever increasing passenger rail usage in the state and nation and suggested stronger financial support be considered.

Blue Water on-time performance is improving. Train #365 arrival times into Chicago in the past few weeks have generally ranged from 17 minutes early to 30 minutes late. Unfortunately, Train #365 was 55 minute late at Lapeer yesterday. Getting clearance onto the main line out of Port Huron continues to be a problem. The train arrived in Chicago 63 minutes late yesterday.

The February MARP meeting has been rescheduled to Durand. Ms. Marci Fogal, Executive Director of the Blue Water (Port Huron) Convention and Visitor Bureau, has accepted our invitation to update us on the 2007 MDOT Blue Water Marketing grant. She is the administrator of that grant.

Northern Michigan Region – Andrew Kent reported that several rail excursions were planned in 2007 including a Standish-Gaylord trip in conjuction with the Alpine Festival and a rare southbound trip from Gaylord to West Branch. Don Monteith continues to promote MARP on the Beaver Island ferry which transports 60,000 passengers each year. He suggests a more colorful brochure which would be distributed at Clare and other state welcome centers. Tim Hoeffner reminded the group that MDOT manages a distribution center serving all the welcome centers and that Amtrak schedules could be sent to that center for statewide distribution.

Western Michigan Region – John Langdon reported that Westrain has received a 9/10 matching grant totalling $100,000 from the state to promote the Pere Marquette. A Michigan Day promotion will take place again this year in May at Chicago Union Station. MDOT plans a passenger survey in late March and early April. Langdon will be making a presentation promoting rail travel to a group from Freedom Village, a retirement communtiy in Holland. Langdon expressed his frustration at the failure of FRA to make a final decision on platform heights. This has stalled completion of the new station in New Buffalo and the efforts of Berrien County to establish commuter rail service to Chicago.

Committee Reports none. John Delora absent.

Beautification Committee-

Southeast Michigan Commuter Rail Study Committee – Michael Frezell reported that to date, no grants for this study have been forthcoming. With heightened activity on proposals for Ann Arbor-Detroit, Pontiac-Detroit and Ann Arbor-North commuter rail, Frezell suggested that MARP should disband this committee and concentrate on support of active projects for the coming year. Chairman Whims asked for a consensus of the members present. By voice vote, the members agreed to Frezell’s proposal. .

Outreach Committee – Frezell circulated a new list of promotional opportunities for 2007 including several not linked directly to model trail shows or railroad days. He asked assistance in staffing the MARP table at these events. A show is coming up later in January in Troy and the Ann Arbor show will take place in February. Clark Charnetski reported that he had paid for the table at the Ann Arbor show.

Route Enhancement Committee – Hugh Gurney distributed the recommendations of the Route Enhancement Committee for improvements in rail and intercity bus service in Michigan. The report was well received. Whims asked that a work program be developed to implement the recommendations.

Ride the Train Committee – Robert Patterson asked that those interested in serving on this committee meet at Clare’s following this meeting.

Nominating Committee – Andrew Kent asked that the present officers and members of the Executive Committee let him know ASAP if they plan to run again or not. John Langdon suggested looking beyond those who currently attend meetings for nominees.

Old Business Mike Whims distributed the proposed Goals for 2007. Based on the discussion earlier in the meeting, Item #4, dealing with funding for the Southeast Michigan Commuter Rail Study, will be dropped. After some discussion at was agreed that we would publish “at least” three issues of “Michigan Passenger”, leaving the door open to more issues if needed. Moved as amended by Langdon, seconded by Charnetski, passed.

Goals for 2007 –

Newsletter Planning and Distribution – Valderas reported that he plans a late Winter-early Spring issue to be released in mid-February. He asked that the paper be mailed to members before bulk distribution at depots, shows, etc.

Future Meetings –

February 10, 2007 -10:00 a.m. – Durand Union Station, Durand

March 10, 2007 11:00 a.m. – Kalamazoo Transit Office, Kalamazoo

April 14, 2007 Metro Detroit

May 12, 2007 10:00 a.m. – Holland

Mike Whims was asked to pick a location for the April meeting somewhere in the
metro Detroit area.

New Business- there was no new business

General Member Comments – John Langdon mentioned an article in the Grand Rapids Press encouraging day trips from Grand Rapids to Holland by train. He showed the group the new Amtrak Hat to be used to promote ridership. Langdon showed the group layout designs for new signs at the Grand Rapids station.

Clark Charnetski reported on a telephone conversation he had recently with a person at MDOT familiar with the state’s intercity bus system. He confirmed that Greyhound will be pulling completely out of Northern Michigan. In addition to current service, Indian Trails will operate intercity bus service north along U.S. 127 as well as service between St. Ignace and Ironwood. There will be a night service between Marquette-Green Bay-Milwaukee, but no day service on this route. MDOT will make up the difference between cost and revenue on these routes.

Kaz Fujita confirmed the earlier report that the Blue Water was maintaining its schedule into Chicago much better with 80% less delays. It is generally 10 minutes late or less getting into Chicago.

Adjournment – The meeting adjourned at 12:20 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted;

Hugh D. Gurney