Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Seaboard Station, Matthews, NC
April 9, 2011 Open - 1:15 P.M.
Present: Martin Wheeler, Jim Frierson, David Hill, John Bobinyec, Ed Locklin, Bob Bischoff, Bill Cole, Ernest Robl, Ralph Messera, John Stein, Jim Stevenson, and Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
  • Bob will prepare a letter concerning Bill 422 for the Governor and legislators.
  • Jim will compile a list of legislators to whom ‘Resolutions” should be sent in SC
  • Martin and Bob will have the ‘Sample Service’ insert ready by next meeting
  • Bob will check on the price to print the insert
  • Gene will meet with printers and have new brochure ready by next meeting
  • Gene will obtain an additional bid for printing the brochure
  • Martin will contact Malcolm Kenton about NARP publicizing local organizations
  • Martin will request that Gene send $100 donation to Operation Lifesaver
1. Secretary's Report - Phil Astwood distributed the minutes of the February 12 meeting via e-mail to Board members and as hardcopy at the meeting. The minutes were accepted as amended with corrections presented at the meeting.

2. Treasurer's Report - As Gene Kirkland could not be present, the report was mailed to Board members and hard copies were available at the meeting. The report was reviewed by Martin Wheeler who pointed out expenditures for postage and income from dues, contributions and interest that brought a total of $12,957.72 in the operating account and $4,985.58 in the CAPT Challenge account for a total of $17,943.30. The Association has 190 members.

3. Update on an Attempt by Republican Legislators in the NC General Assembly to kill funding for High Speed Rail - Ralph Messera reported that NC House Bill 422 will bar acceptance of additional transportation funds and there will be no match except for future maintenance ($30 million). A second part of the bill will require that all such grants be approved by the General Assembly in the future. The $640 million from unused Florida funds would require a match. This would build stations in Charlotte and Raleigh, and a line toward Petersburg. This situation has been well covered by the ‘Charlotte Observer’. Before it reaches a vote in the House, the bill has to pass the Commerce Committee, the Finance Committee and the Transportation Committee. The bill must also pass the Senate. The NCDOT is reported to favor acceptance of the funds. This project will provide1200 jobs per year (counted as 4800 jobs over 4 years). It was decided that Bob will write a letter for Martin to sign. The letter should point out the correct amount of funding is now $461 million since part of the $545 has already been spent. It is also important to point out other positive aspects of the project such as increased safety and freight capacity. With the coming increase in the size of the Panama Canal there will be more freight to the east coast and a need to increase freight capacity. When complete the Board will approve the letter. As soon as stationery is available, the letter will be sent to Governor Perdue, and then edited and sent to all NC legislators in the House and Senate. Gene said there will be a newsletter in a week related to this issue and will encourage all members to comment.

4. Update on Resolution Drive in South Carolina in Support of Expanded Rail Passenger Service - Phil reviewed the progress to date and noted that a resolution has recently been received from Fairfield County. Martin reported that the ‘sample service’ insert has been edited and there was discussion about whether Pamplico or Timmonsville should be included on the Greenville, Florence, Myrtle Beach line. The question was: “Should town population or spacing between stations be more important?” It was said that Allan Paul found the timetables realistic, but it was pointed out that we must check siding locations to make sure appropriate passes are possible. Arrows should be added to the timetable to show direction, and ‘MTC’ and ‘Gateway’ should be explained. Martin said the sample schedule should be ready for printing by the Columbia meeting (June 11). Bob Bischoff will check the price to print it. Martin will check on the number of brochures to see if we need to reprint it. Martin mentioned a nice article in ‘Progressive Railroading’ on rail in Charlotte and the possibility of a Charlotte –Columbia connection. The Central Midlands COG discussed this.

5. Status of Efforts to Produce New CAPT Brochure - As Gene Kirkland was unable to attend the meeting, Martin reported that Gene is working with Jeff Mann at Amtrak to get a picture of the Acela to put on the brochure’s cover. He plans to meet with the printer in Fayetteville to make all changes. Everything should be ready to be approved at the June meeting. He needs more than one bid on printing (10K and 20K copies). He would like a bid from the Charlotte area, but is not sure whom to ask.

6. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website - Website John Bobinyec has been adding information about the rail-funding crisis in North Carolina, and reporting on the renovation progress at the Cary station. He requested that all officers and directors send him new contact information that can go on the web site. Newsletter - Gene reported to Martin he will send it out soon. It will go to the printer on April 15th.

7. Amtrak Update - Martin – Amtrak has shown 17 straight months of rider growth, due in part to availability of WiFi, increasing gasoline prices, and the depressed economy. Ridership on the Piedmont is up 101%. Ralph – Remember, frequency and reliability are more important than speed for increasing ridership. The Piedmont & the Carolinian are experiencing an increase in business and college travel. With larger loads many feel that Amtrak should open more doors to cut dwell times. Amtrak has ordered 70 new Siemens locomotives and also has a contract for single level cars. They expect to buy 40 new Acela cars in 2012 to increase capacity. Specifications are being developed for new equipment. The new schedule for NC service has earlier times to move toward the goal of ‘on-the-hour’ service north and ‘on-the-half-hour’ service south.

8. Reports by Officers and Directors -
  • Bill Cole – Glad to hear Sen. Rucho say that the “Train has left the station” on spending. National Train Day is May 7. Amtrak has activities at primary stations. In Charlotte we need a banner and more publicity. All hosts should be at the station. There is a plan to offer train rides to Salisbury and return. We should set up table for CAPT and train hosts. Spencer will lose all state funding in two months. It will have an entrance fee.
  • Jim Frierson – Studies continue in commuter areas. The Charleston plan is finished. They are waiting for money for the Charleston intermodal station if any funds are available and that is not likely.
  • David Hill – In an attempt to increase membership he obtained a CAPT members list from Gene and compared it to a list of NARP members in the Carolinas. There are 213 NARP members that are not members of CAPT. Perhaps each should receive a letter and copy of the new brochure. Would NARP support this sort of thing? Martin will e-mail Malcolm about this.
  • Ed Locklin – There are several local issues (such as parking) that need attention, but no one at Amtrak seems to care. How do we get through to them?
  • Ernest Robl – Should CAPT contribute to Operation Lifesaver since they invite us to functions? It was moved and seconded that we donate $100 to Operation Lifesaver. Martin will officially contact Gene about this.
  • John Bobinyec – The fire department vehicles have been moved out of the Cary station parking lot. The second building (baggage?) is up and connected by a roof to the main structure. The project is supposed to be complete in August.
  • Bob Bischoff – Charlotte Trolley is negotiating with the NC Transportation Museum to run car #85 at the museum until it can be used again in Charlotte. It might run in place of the train when business is slow.
9 NC Transit Update - CATS – Streetcar project has a couple of blocks of track and they are trying to finish it. Completion of public comments and environmental assessment will allow start of final design for 1.5 mile run from the transit center to Presbyterian Hospital. This needs to be started within 18 months or stimulus money will run out. The Blue Line extension to the University area has been scoped back. Preliminary engineering to be complete by the end of the year. Land acquisition to follow. The Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting approved a resolution to oppose Bill 422. CATS monitors fuel prices to perhaps adjust bus routes. Planning for the Democratic National Convention is underway. Work will start on a new rail storage yard to replace old NS facility after NS moves to the Airport. This will be train storage, no maintenance, perhaps a wash rack. The Blue Line extension will have longer platforms, but this will not allow for longer trains until old platforms are extended. Light rail trains cannot “double stop”. There is still an effort to initiate the Mooresville project, perhaps a public-private partnership. Greyhound does not seem interested in doing anything about moving to a new station.

10. Planning for Future Meetings – June 11 - Columbia (Jim will set this up), August 13 - Greenville (Phil & David will set this up), October 8 – Asheville (Art will set this up), December 10 - Charleston. (Jim will set this up)

Adjourn - 3:40 P.M.