Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Marriott Greenville Hotel, Greenville, SC
March 14, 2015 Open: 1:34 PM

Present: Martin Wheeler, David Hill, Ed Locklin, Jim Frierson, Bob Bischoff, Gene Kirkland, Frank Ezell, Rick Wyatt.

Martin Wheeler suggested that members around the table introduce themselves and all did so. Afterward, he recognized our guest speaker, Frank Ezell, who is the chairman of the South Carolina Passenger Rail Consortium. Frank said that there are seventeen members of the consortium presently. He gave a brief history of the consortium and how he became interested in passenger rail issues through his involvement in the Hub City Railroad Museum in Spartanburg. With other interested persons, Frank sought to start a group to “spearhead” Amtrak service from the upstate to Charleston with two trains daily in each direction. He noted that the group’s first meeting was on June 20, 2014 in Spartanburg and identified the various agencies/organizations represented by those in attendance. The group’s first task was to prepare a ‘position paper’ outlining a proposed service concept. The consortium is now awaiting word from the FRA on approval of its rail plan for this service. Frank observed that “If we just get funds for a feasibility study, we will have accomplished a great deal.”

Martin informed Frank that CAPT has developed a new brochure, obtained 20 or so signed resolutions and met with several mayors and city/county councils to garner support for new passenger rail service in SC.

Frank noted that the new inland port in the upstate has resulted in a huge number of containers shipped in for distribution elsewhere. This has increased freight movements on rail lines between the upstate and the port at Charleston affecting the use of these lines by passenger rail. Rick Wyatt spoke of the inter-connectivity related to moving freight through the ports safely and efficiently using the latest technology.

Martin asked about a rail banking program in South Carolina. Rick said that South Carolina does not currently fund such a program.

Bob Bischoff asked about meetings of the consortium and was told that they have had only one meeting so far and members will be notified when another meeting is to be held.

Rick told the group that the southeast may be next in line for a high-speed regional rail plan.

It was mentioned that another group, the Blue Ridge Railroad Association, will be meeting for the first time in Landrum, SC, on March 19, 2015. Notices will be sent out and Rick Wyatt will be the guest speaker.

Update on resolution drive in South Carolina in support of expanded rail passenger service: Martin mentioned the number of resolutions we have gotten so far and briefly discussed the new literature and information CAPT has developed.

Clemson Amtrak station temporary relocation: Jim Frierson gave a brief report on this situation noting that the SCDOT has agreed to fund the Clemson Area Transit (CAT) bus service to ferry Amtrak passengers from the Clemson station to the Greenville Amtrak station in order to meet arrivals and departures of the Crescent. This arrangement is to continue until the highway bridge replacement project is completed. Jim agreed with other members that the critical issue here is the on-time performance of the bus service in meeting the Crescent’s arrival and departure times in Greenville.

Secretary's Report: Martin noted that CAPT Secretary Phil Astwood was unable to attend today’s meeting and Jim Frierson would be taking the meeting notes/minutes. Martin read the previous meeting’s minutes and asked for any corrections/changes. Motion to approve the minutes was made by Bob and seconded by Ed Locklin.

Treasurer's Report: Gene Kirkland gave the treasurer’s report and informed the members that CAPT funds have been accessed illegally by someone who hacked the account. Gene said that he wants to put together a proposal for members to pay dues via a new system. Martin said that he will need to insure that he works with John Bobinyec on what he is doing.

Update on CAPT fostering creation of an association similar to Virginians for High Speed Rail: Martin noted that David Robinson, Dick Beadles and Art Peterson were looking into this. However, nothing much has been done at this point in time.

Update on news in North Carolina and South Carolina affecting transit and passenger rail: Martin read a letter from a consultant with the firm of Parsons, Brinckerhoff who is under contract to the NCDOT to study the public’s awareness of passenger rail service in the state. In the letter, she is asking for CAPT’s assistance in completing an on-line survey developed by the firm.

Martin also informed the membership about a gentleman from the local Sierra Club who has asked for input regarding a station stop in Harrisburg, NC.

The City of Charlotte has been approved for continued funding for its streetcar line development in the President’s proposed budget.

Martin said that he recently went to a Metropolitan Transit Commission meeting and heard discussion about an extension to the Blue Line light rail route in Charlotte. Construction on this new extension is already underway.

Change membership dues to calendar year: John Bobinyec is working on a PayPal system to enable members to receive notices about dues and membership expiration. We won’t go to a calendar year system just yet in order to allow Gene to talk with John about this process first. Martin said that if this new system gets to be too much for Gene, we will have to get someone to assist him. Ed stated that he likes the idea of a PayPal system because we won’t have to "fool with checks" from members and it is more secure.

Update on CAPT newsletter and website issues: No update.

Amtrak update: Martin told everyone about Don Stewart’s information that was e-mailed detailing the North Carolina Legislature’s action regarding Amtrak. He said that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Amtrak is a governmental entity but that the issue will now go through an appeals process.

Reports by Officers and Directors: Gene told everyone that this May will be the 25th anniversary of the Carolinian train service and the 20th anniversary of the Piedmont train service. He also noted that the Cary, NC station is now the busiest in the state.

Ed asked about the funding for the Carolinian being cut but was told that this is not going to happen.

Bob informed the membership that Atherton Mill is now expanding and the streetcar that is stored there must be moved out. He said the car will be taken to Spencer (NC Transportation Museum) but the group that supports the streetcar operation would rather see it operated on rails in Belmont, NC.

Planning for future meetings: Martin informed everyone that our next meeting will be in Wilson, NC, on May 16, 2015.

Adjourn: 3:58 PM