Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
High Point Amtrak Station, High Point, NC
August 11, 2012 Open - 2:15 P.M.
Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, Ernest Robl, Ed Locklin, Ken Davis, Murrell Johnson, Bob Bischoff, Bill Cole, Bill Muller and Phil Astwood.

Action Items:
  • Gene will check with stations about size & placement of CAPT banner
  • Martin will check with Joe Roof about tax implications of Eargle’s fundraising plan
  • Jim will get addresses for SC mayors and county council chairs along rail routes
  • Phil will mail SC brochures, inserts, a resolution & cover letter to towns along routes
  • Martin, Ed and Bob will complete the newsletter
1. Secretary's Report - Phil Astwood had sent minutes from the June 16th meeting to members of the Board via e-mail a couple of days before the meeting. He read a summary of those minutes, but the Board decided to postpone approval of the complete minutes until all had had time to read them. The minutes would be considered approved if Phil receives no corrections in the next few days

2. Treasurer's Report - Gene Kirkland presented a report covering the past four months from April 14 to August 10. Combining the Association’s two accounts, the starting balance was $11,353.76 and the closing balance was $10,796.19. The primary expenses were for postage ($194.30) and the newsletter design ($320). The Association currently has 220 members. Gene asked for and received permission to print new envelopes that include the CAPT logo in color. The report was accepted as information.

3. Update on CAPT poster project for Carolina Amtrak Stations - Gene reported that Teshena Debrew at NCDOT would like the station posters to be smaller than one we have proposed. The Board agreed that a smaller poster would probably fit better in many of the places we want to put it. Perhaps we could give the stations a choice. Gene suggested that we also prepare a table-sized standing poster that could hold copies of the brochure in a pocket Gene will check out stations and report at the next meeting. Gene is very impressed with Amtrak’s new SE marketing person, Diane Cabot-Miller, whom he finds very energetic and hard-working.

4. Update on CAPT Fundraiser Designed by Retired Amtrak Agent Earl Eargle to provide more Funding and Exposure for CAPT - Martin has the materials ready to place a description of the CD and ordering information in the newsletter and on the web site. The Board said the CD will not be promoted on trains or in stations. Before proceeding, however, the Board agreed that Martin should consult Joe Roof about our tax position.

5. Update on Legislation in North Carolina and South Carolina affecting Transit and Rail Passenger Funding - Martin reported he knew of nothing new in either of the Carolinas.

6. Update on the Resolution Drive in South Carolina in Support of Expanded Rail Passenger Service, and Additional Inserts for the Resolution Drive Brochure - Phil briefly described the plan to send copies of the SC brochure, the resolution and the inserts with a cover letter to cities along and within 10 miles of the routes described in the inserts. Bill Muller pointed out that this sort of plan worked in Virginia. Gene wondered if this might be a good time to talk about train service in SC. Martin said that it would be most effective if we coordinated our approach with other organizations such as the Sierra Club. The Columbia to Charleston corridor is very well maintained and has positive train control. With some upgrades, 79 mph would be possible. NS has some access to Charleston, but the port is pretty much tied up by CSX. Martin approved the cover letter and Phil said he would send out the packets as soon as he receives the addresses from Jim. Later in the year we will send copies of the resolutions to legislators.

7. Update on Recent Push by Central Midlands Coalition for a Columbia-Charlotte Connection to the High Speed Rail Service - Jim Frierson was unable to attend the meeting, but sent the following report: In early July, SCDOT hired Rick Wyatt to be the new Intermodal Programs Manager for its Division of Intermodal and Freight Programs. Rick will assist in developing new intermodal programs and initiatives and will lead efforts to incorporate freight and rail transportation programs with the vision and strategic goals of the SCDOT. He will also be involved in the development of the Statewide Freight and Rail Plans…..not sure if “rail plans” includes passenger rail plans (but I will find out).Rick has many years of experience in the private sector in transportation and logistics, working in trucking and distribution. He worked for a short time for a Class I railroad following high school (so he knows something about railroading) but most of his experience (25 years) has been with trucking. It seems that most of what he will be doing will not involve passenger railroading; although that could change over time. For now, it appears, he will focus mainly on freight railroading issues. I had hoped that this new guy would pick up where Roy Tolson “left off” with regard to passenger rail issues but that has not happened (thus far). The SCDOT recently (July 31) kicked-off its massive Statewide Multi-Modal Transportation Plan study. This plan is being developed by a large group of consultants and, in addition to the SCDOT, it will assist efforts of the State Ports Authority; the SC Department of Commerce; and the Federal Highway Administration. It will be very comprehensive in that it will look at freight movement (by rail and truck); highway corridors; transit; bicycle and pedestrian needs; and road safety. It is expected to take about 18 months to complete. I was rather disappointed to find out that passenger rail does not seem to be given much (or any) emphasis in this plan but that could change as the consultants hear from various stakeholder groups….. I certainly hope so! The recent interest in the Central Midlands for the Charlotte-Columbia connection being one example of an initiative that the consultants should consider incorporating into their study. By the way, there is still nothing new going on with regard to this last item. Finally, I do plan to get the listing of mayors and county council chairs to Phil and Gene very soon (before the end of this month). I apologize for the delay in finishing up this project but I have had a lot going on. Phil asked if there was a way CAPT could have input into the statewide plan. Martin will contact Jim to find out how to do that. Martin pointed out that in the past SC seemed very interested in a Columbia-Charlotte connection, but said a study was needed first and that study has never been done.

8. Discussion of Ways to Distribute the New CAPT Brochure - Gene reviewed the plans to distribute CAPT brochures at welcome centers and railroad stations. Perhaps the ‘table display’ would work well at welcome centers as well if we want to put anything there. We are still considering putting a banner in welcome centers as well.

9. Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website - Website - John Bobinyec was not present to report on the on-line payment plan, but Gene said that PayPal has contacted the treasury and made a “test” deposit and withdrawal of 18 cents. Newsletter - Martin said they are nearly done with a possible 8-pager. It should be out soon. Gene offered an article on the Raleigh station and a Piedmont equipment list.

10. Amtrak Update - Gene said Amtrak will soon have a new baggage policy that allows passengers to check 4 bags (2 are free the other 2 are $20 each). There will be strict regulations about size and weight. New brochures and posters in stations will explain the policy that is to be effective September 10.

11. North Carolina Transit Update - Gene reported that all six Piedmont engines are back. One food service car is being returned to be repainted because it is the wrong shade of blue. He said he had heard that new tables in food service cars will be made to “crush” in the event of an accident. Triangle Transit – Wake County has decided not to adopt the ½ cent sales tax for transit as Durham has already done. PART (Piedmont Area Rapid Transit) is having financial difficulty and is struggling to maintain the services they currently provide. Martin said the CATS Red Line has a new website “”. They are still working on a funding strategy and plan a feasibility study by the end of the year. The original plan called for hourly service from 6-10 AM and 3-10 PM. There are discussions about running fewer trains, but some feel this would severely limit the line’s usefulness. This line would run to the Charlotte Gateway Station. In Charlotte the plan is to select a “Master Developer” for the station and the surrounding area by the end of the year. Ridership on the Blue Line is up 2.5% compared to last year. Bus ridership is up 7.6%. The Street Car project is expected to begin construction after the Democratic National Convention with service beginning in 2015. A decision whether or not to work with Portland, OR to purchase new Blue Line cars has not yet been made. Portland plans to buy at least 70 cars and CATS could get 22 at a reduced price if the orders were placed together. CATS would like to gain access to the former NS yard early. Many utilities need to be relocated first. Final design approval is due soon. The full-funding grant agreement is expected soon. There will be an article in the newsletter about downtown station issues. Trolley (Bob) – We have submitted an operation plan and are awaiting approval to operate on the mile and a half track behind Bank of America Stadium. When approved, we will put up a temporary building and get #85 back into operation.

12. Reports by Officers and Directors -
  • Bill Cole - The painting at the Charlotte station has made everything look better. Work is being done to covert an employee’s restroom into a second ladies room due to lack of space in the existing restroom. They cannot do anything about water in the tunnel. A train board was stored in the back of the office, but it apparently has been stolen. The pay phones do not work, but for some reason cannot be removed.
  • Bob Bischoff - What about the electronic signs? Gene - All stations will get them and they will be on trains as well sometime next year. Bob – We still need communication between bus and train passengers. The train hosts need to do this.
  • Ed Locklin - I recently read a news release from Amtrak saying that starting this fall there will be throughway bus service to eastern North Carolina. There will be two bus routes from Wilson, NC. One will serve Greenville, New Bern, Havelock and Morehead City. The second will serve Goldsboro, Kinston, Jacksonville and Wilmington. Both bus services will service the Palmetto, no mention of the Carolinian. Carolinian passengers will be able to use the service too but it just won't be as convenient.
13. Planning for Future Meetings - Spartanburg (David will set this up, December 8 – Raleigh (Art has set this up. Allan Paul will speak). February - Charlotte

Adjourn - 4:10 P.M.