Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Annual Meeting
Landrum Library, Landrum, South Carolina
November 16, 2019 Open: 11:30

Present: Martin Wheeler, Gene Kirkland, Ralph Messera, John Bobinyec, Don Yehle, Jim Frierson, Ed Locklin and Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report: Phil Astwood distributed copies of the minutes from the September meeting via e-mail to Board members and read the minutes at this meeting. They were accepted as presented.

Treasurer's Report: Gene Kirkland read the treasurer’s report showing an opening balance of $705.70, expenses for printing and postage of $117.35, and a closing balance of $588.35 ($7.35 for postage should have been listed as a debit. See attached copy of the report) In addition, Gene reported that there are 4 new members and the Association does have sufficient funds to reprint the SC brochure materials.

Election of Officers and Directors for 2020: The following Directors’ two-year terms ended December 31, 2019: Ralph Messera, Bill Cole, Jim Frierson, Phil Astwood, John Bobinyec, Gene Kirkland and Martin Wheeler. Art Peterson, who has been unable to take an active part for several years, did not express an interest in being reelected.

All other members wished to continue and Don Yehle wished to fill the seat left open by Art Peterson. All were elected to two-year terms.

The following Officers were reelected to one-year terms: Martin Wheeler – President, David Robinson – NC Vice President, Gene Kirkland - Treasurer and Phil Astwood – Secretary. Jim Frierson did not wish to continue as SC Vice President. Don Yehle was elected to fill the position.

Charlotte-Atlanta High Speed Rail Update: Ed Locklin and Martin Wheeler attended one of three meetings held to discuss the issue. Apparently the plan is to select one route out of the following 3 options: 1) Upgrading the existing NS line to about 90-100 mph. 2) Building new tracks along I 85 , 3) Building an entirely new route which could ultimately run about 250 mph. Georgia DOT will make the decision working with NCDOT and SCDOT. A decision is expected early next year (2020). Preliminary planning should be complete in 2-3 years. Whichever option is adopted, the line will serve the new Charlotte station and a downtown station in Atlanta. All of this information is available through the GADOT website. Several sources at the DOT’s have said that Virgin (Brightline) is interested in this project.

North Carolina DOT Rail Plan Update: The meetings are now over for the regular 10-year update of the plan. Martin attended a meeting in Hickory. Don Stuart went to one in Fayetteville. The plan includes suggested freight and passenger routes including ones CAPT has recommended in the past. For this review Martin and David Robinson worked together to add suggested routes from Winston-Salem to Charlotte and Charlotte to Wilmington. The comment period for these is also now over.

Update on NC On Track: David Robinson has collected a great deal of interesting and useful material on the NCOT website. It had been suggested that some of it might be used on CAPT’s site, but the material David put together really didn’t work well, so it was suggested that John Bobinyec simply select pieces that seem appropriate (such as ridership figures) and add them to the CAPT site. David thinks NCOT is so far doing well enough to continue.

Update on Resolution Drive in South Carolina in Support of Expanded Rail Passenger Service: Phil said that all of the materials have been mailed to the SC House and Senate members on the transportation committees, but so far there has been no response. Since the SC Legislature does not reconvene until January, no response was expected yet. Martin suggested that it was time to again present some of this material in person to those who might be interested. Most people agreed that the greatest interest is in a Charlotte to Charleston route. Martin will get all of the materials reprinted so that we will have 900 complete sets to distribute.

Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Passenger Rail: NCDOT has received a grant of about $80 million to buy 13 new cars for the Piedmonts as well as do additional work at the Charlotte Maintenance Facility. Gene- Ridership is up 20% on the Piedmonts. Some football trains carry close to 300. Maps and bus passes are handed out to passengers explaining how to get to the stadium. They have to pay for a regular bus on the way back. The first floor of Raleigh Union Station is about 40% occupied. Raleigh Transit will have offices on the second floor. There is no plan for any type of food service yet. Martin – There is really nothing new in Charlotte since the last meeting. The Winston-Salem Union Station has reopened after being remodeled. It’s beautiful. Perhaps we can meet there. The City uses the bottom level to monitor traffic cameras. The next level will be available to rent and the former waiting room on the top floor will be open for tours. Jim - There was supposed to be a public hearing this falls on the Assembly Street Project in Columbia, but it did not happen. However the final EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) is supposed to be complete in early 2020. And the final environmental decision is scheduled for 2020. Martin – Fifty million dollars have just been approved for CATS to start the funding process for the east-west line between Belmont and Matthews. First item is to define the alignment. It will probably be 10 years before the line is in operation. This will be the ‘Silver Line’. There has been no progress on the Red Line to Mooresville. Discussion on a new rail line to Rock Hill continues. Gene – Despite the recent problems Raleigh light rail is not dead yet. They are trying to find ways to salvage it.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website Issues: Gene - There will be a newsletter before the next meeting. John Bobinyec – CAPT had a discussion group on Yahoo and Yahoo has decided not to host discussion groups any longer. They allowed us to download any content we wanted from our group and John has done that. Meanwhile John has opened up a new, free, discussion group. There is a link to it on the website.

Amtrak Update: John – The new meal service is generally not bad, but not as good as what was available before. Food will come back to the Star next year. Ed - The Congressional hearings on Amtrak brought up: changes in food service, loss of good employees, and on time performance. Don – The RPA Spring conference this year is March 29 - April 3. We can have an impact if we get more people to attend the‘Day on the Hill’ which is April 2. There has been a concern in California about the cost of Amtrak operating trains within the state. It has been suggested that a local agency operate all trains.

Reports by Officers and Directors: Martin – Found a site called which claims that our tax-exempt status has been revoked because we have not filed for 3 years. Is this real? Gene will check on this.

Planning for Future Meetings:
Suggested meeting places:
Winston-Salem - January 18
Fayetteville - March 21
Charleston - May 16
Raleigh - July 18
Columbia - September 19
Charlotte - November 21

Adjourn 1:45