Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
via Zoom
May 15, 2021  

Present - Martin Wheeler, David Robinson, Ralph Messera, John Bobinyec, Ed Locklin, Jim Frierson, Don Yehle, Bill Cole, Ken Davis, Gayle McCurry and Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report - The report was sent out via e-mail. There were two corrections: In the NC/SC Update the minutes said that the regional plans would affect our proposed service when it should have said would not and when the Regional Plan was discussed I should have said that it did not include some of the connections we had suggested. The minutes were approved as corrected.

Treasurer's Report - Ralph Messera reported a current balance is $1,805.20. We have 47 members. A few more folks paid via Cheddar and most by mail. Don Yehle, Ed Locklin, Martin Wheeler, David Robinson and Bill Cole asked for printed membership lists which will be sent out in a few days.

Consideration of the Open Board Member Position - One more member is needed to fully constitute the Board. Don Yehle has spoken with members of Operation Lifesaver and has the names of two people from that organization who might be interested in joining the Board. It would provide connections with freight rail which we do not have and perhaps it would be a source of sponsorships. Martin pointed out that we would need someone from NC in order to balance the Board membership to comply with the by-laws. Don said the individual from NC is Margaret Cannell. Bill Cole suggested Chip Hicks who is a train host from Rock Hill. Don will contact Chip and David will speak with Margaret.

Senator Lindsey Graham’s Offer of Legislative Input - Don Yehle and Jim Frierson spoke with Sen. Graham’s office during the “Day on the Hill” and the Senator’s office responded with an offer to keep us informed about legislation affecting passenger rail in the Carolina’s. Specifically Don and Jim spoke about the possibility of a train between Charlotte and Columbia. Don suggested that someone put together a proposal to begin the process. Jim pointed out that Columbia’s Mayor Benjamin has been interested in such a train for many years. Jim will contact the mayor’s office and Martin will contact Sean Jeans-Gayle at RPA for additional information.

Update of NCOT – David Robinson reported there was nothing really new here, but his primary recent focus has been on increasing awareness of operations in NC through videos. Current videos are available on YouTube as ‘Transportcams’. David will write this up for an upcoming newsletter.

Update on Resolution Drive In SC - Nothing new had been done here recently, but Martin plans to use some of the material when he contacts RPA about a possible Columbia/Charlotte train.

News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Rail – David Robinson mentioned that on May 24 Amtrak plans to resume full seating on trains, but said he did not have any other news. Bill Cole said that overall things look encouraging and are moving along. Ridership on the Carolinian appears strong and the train is very frequently on time. Martin said the initial study work for the Blue Line extension has been done. Alignment is basically set. When the project begins all station platforms along the line will be extended to 3 car lengths. Project may precede the Silver Line, but it is still 6-8 years before it is complete. There is still a lot of environmental study needed before construction can begin. When Jim speaks to the mayor he will also ask if there are any plans for a new Columbia station.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website Issues – Martin and Don have been continuing with the one-page per month version. Don said the upcoming issue will be on safety. Perhaps we could share this with others who work around rail tracks. Future issues will have information on the “Day on the Hill”, ‘Transportcam’ and new members. He also suggested articles on positive train experiences. Martin is planning to contribute rail pictures for both the newsletter and the website. The old street cars from Charlotte will soon be going to Memphis.

Amtrak Update The ‘Star’ now has a diner again. Don would like more information about “Economic Modeling Tools” which were developed to determine a train’s economic impact. This system used by RPA to demonstrate the need for increased rail service.

Western NC Rail Alliance Membership – No recent meetings.

Reports by Officers and Directors – Ed and Martin mentioned that Greyhound has discontinued all bus service in Canada. There are other bus companies providing some service. Via train service has also been significantly curtailed.

Planning for Future Meetings – Next meeting will be in July. Perhaps in-person. Martin said September would be a good time to come to Charlotte because the streetcar service will be operating. We could have a tour and ride. Jim will check on use of the Charleston station meeting room for the July 17 meeting. Sept 18 meeting will be in Charlotte.