Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Board Meeting
Big Ben British Pub, Charlotte, NC
September 18, 2021 Open: 12:06 PM

Present: (In person and via Zoom) Martin Wheeler, Ralph Messera, Charles Gassett, John Bobinyec, Jim Frierson, , Ed Locklin, David Robinson, Timothy Brown, Bill Cole and Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report: Phil Astwood distributed the minutes from the July meeting via e-mail. Martin read the minutes to the meeting and they were approved as read with minor corrections.

Treasurer's Report: Ralph Messera handed out a copy of the report. The current balance is $1,896.99. There was one new member for a total of 52 members; 32 in NC, 9 in SC and 11 in other locations. There were no expenses. The report was accepted as distributed. It was agreed that we should join Zoom to facilitate meetings. We will receive a discount if we join for a year. We will reimburse Jim $45 for his expenses to attend the virtual RPA conference.

Consideration of Open Board Member Position: The Board is currently one member short of the 12 specified in the by-laws. To match the distribution of members from each state, the new members would need to come from NC. Several names were suggested at the last meeting, but none has been contacted as yet.

Economic Feasibility Study: In conversation with Martin, Don Yehle had suggested we form a sub committee to discuss a feasibility study and report to this meeting in November. As Don was not at the meeting, we did not form a committee, but Jim Frierson agreed to discuss this with Lil Mood and also planned to continue attempts to get in contact with someone at the COG. Jim also contacted Mr. Winans at the Hub City RR Museum in Spartanburg, but was told that despite the earlier work that was done by Frank Ezell, there is not currently anyone in that area who is interested in such a study.

It was decided that there was no need to close down our discussion page even if we open another on Facebook. Charles Gassett said there was already a group on Facebook that looked like CAPT, but was not. Is this a troll page? Charles will report it and ask that it be shut down.

At the last meeting, Jim Tilley from Florida suggested we set up a 'Go Fund Me' page to raise some of the funds for a feasibility study. He made one contact with Ralph, but has not responded to Ralph or others who have tried to contact him. Martin pointed out that whatever we eventually do we will probably need to renew our 501c3 status.

Jim will try to find out how the current Columbia mayoral candidates feel about rail passenger service.

Charles pointed out that the Carolinian with a run of 705 miles is state-funded (wholly by NC), but if that run were extended to Columbia it would be over 750 miles and thus sufficient for federal funding. Martin reminded the meeting that this had been studied by NCDOT and Connecticut DOT in a proposal to extend the train on the north end to New Haven. Allan Paul apparently said that Connecticut has since backed down. David will find out from NCDOT where this currently stands.

Timothy Brown suggested that a referendum would be a good opportunity to discover how the public feels about this rail passenger service. In addition it would be way by which to spread information about the idea. We should speak to Lil about this.

Update on the SC Resolution Drive: Phil said there was nothing new here.

Western NC Rail Committee Update: (The audio for this section was very bad due to an echo. These are the parts of the report that I could understand). David Robinson said that at a September Zoom meeting; Jason Ortner reported that the Carolinian leads the nation in ridership. In addition Ortner said that the phase one report on the Gateway station would be complete by the end of 2022. David said there is money available for a western NC passenger rail study which should begin this fall and be complete within a year. We should have some input into this.

NC On Track: David had nothing to add here.

Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Rail Passenger Service: Bill Cole wondered if it was correct that many overnight trains do not currently carry sleepers and the Carolinian does not have a baggage car. He also said that he had heard that there would be a major announcement about the Gateway Station in October.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website: Martin said that he and Don Yehle have put out a newsletter every month for nearly a year. Don Yehle would like to continue to work on the news letter, but would like to pass the SC VP job to someone else. Jim said he would be willing to take back the job after the November election of officers. John said there was nothing new on the website. Several feel there are still some sets of minutes missing from the site.

RPA Rail Nation DC: Jim will attend this meeting virtually. He has contacted all 9 members of the SC congressional delegation requesting an on-line meeting. So far only Representative Clyburn has responded. The Rail Nation Meeting will be on September 19-22.

Amtrak Update: Ralph went to Wisconsin by train last month. The Crescent from Charlotte was 100% on time. From Charlottesville the Cardinal was also 100% on time. He had a sleeper and thus did not have to wear a mask. The food was airline-type food on the Cardinal and was not bad. He took two Amtrak buses to reach his destination. On return the train to Chicago was fairly crowded. He had a sleeper again on the Capital to DC. It was close to on time most of the way and the food was OK. Finally took the Carolinian in business class back to Charlotte. They now assign seats in business class and the car was about 2/3 full. Charles said the MARC line has very good equipment.

Planning for Future Meetings: We need to set up a year-long schedule for next year at the November meeting.

Raleigh Station (?) on Nov 20. David will try to set this up with a speaker.

Adjourn: 2:00 PM