Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains
Annual Meeting
Via Zoom
December 4, 2021 Open: 3:07 PM

Present: Martin Wheeler, Bob Bischoff, John Bobinyec, Jim Frierson, Ed Locklin, David Robinson, Bill Cole, John McCurry, James Tilley, Don Yehle and Phil Astwood

Secretary's Report: Phil read the September meeting minutes and they were accepted as read with minor corrections

Treasurer's Report: Ralph Messera e-mailed the following report: Cash Balance - $1,713.29, Expenses - for Jim Frierson to attend the RPA Meeting - $45, for a 1-Year subscription to Zoom - $112.42, for Web Domain - $6.28 for a Total of $163.70. There were no new members. Current membership – 52 with 32 from NC and 9 from SC and 11 from other states. Ralph also sent a membership list to each Director.

Election of Board Members and Officers: David Robinson, Ed Locklin and Bob Bischoff are starting the second year of their two-year term on the Board All other members have completed a two-year term (Martin Wheeler, Don Yehle, Jim Frierson, Phil Astwood, Bill Cole, John Bobinyec and Ralph Messera). Gayle McCurry does not want to continue as a member of the Board. All others would like to continue, and a motion was made and accepted to reelect the 7 members to two-year terms. All were elected. This leaves the Board with two open positions both of which should be filled with members from NC. David moved that we seek volunteers from among NC members. This was passed. Phil will write a letter which Martin will send to NC members. It was suggested that the letter be sent by US Mail. Election of Officers: Don Yehle said that he would like to resign from the SC Vice President position to concentrate on the newsletter. Jim Frierson is willing to return to the SC VP position. Jim has also joined RPA. All other officers, Martin (President), David (NC VP), Ralph (Treasurer) and Phil (Secretary) are willing to continue in their positions. It was moved and passed that these be reelected to 1-year terms.

Economic Feasibility Study for Charlotte-Columbia- Charleston Route: The organization’s current plan has been to work with RPA on a study that would quantify the benefits of passenger rail service on a Charlotte-Columbia-Charleston route. However, Martin suggested that we also consider a Columbia to Myrtle Beach route now that construction on I-73 from Florence to Myrtle Beach has finally been cleared. The project could include a rail line associated with the highway. Also, to be considered would be a Raleigh-Charlotte-Columbia route. The problem in all cases is collecting the money to support the studies. Jim Tilley is willing to look at a proposal for Go-Fund-Me funding. The cost of a study could range from $10,000 to $65,000 depending on the amount of information we seek. According to Martin the availability of “stimulus” money is not really known because the ways in which the money will be spent is going to be decided by the states. In NC there is an assumption that Salisbury to Asheville and Charlotte to Wilmington intercity rail should receive some funding, but nothing has been specifically established. In SC the only comments so far have been that the money should go for bus service. We need to decide if we should seek help from congressional representatives. Tom Rice represents the Myrtle Beach area and has been a strong supporter of the I-73 project. Should we contact him about adding a rail line?

Update on the SC Resolution Drive: Phil said there has been no change here. The maps have been redone, but not yet printed. We will wait on this.

Western NC Rail Alliance Update: There is a meeting next week and David will take notes and pass on the information. This group is very active, but the Southeastern area including Wilmington is not as active due in part to the lack of a decision about routing. The most direct route does not pass through as many communities as a less direct route would. Who will eventually make this decision?

Update on NC On Track: David has been trying to raise and maintain interest in rail in the area. It should be part of our mission to distribute information on the availability and utility of passenger rail service. David is applying for an RPA state representative position.

Update on News in NC and SC Affecting Transit and Rail Passenger Service: Martin Wheeler – The whole Gateway Transportation Center project is estimated to cost nearly $200 million. Currently they are about a year away from completing the track work and another 2 or 3 years to complete the station.

Bill Cole is concerned whether there will be a First Class lounge, and if there will be a significant amount of meeting space. There also should be more information about the new transportation center available to the public to build interest in the project. RPA information about the project is so far quite inadequate.

Martin – Due to lack of planning, CATS has lost 20 operators from light rail and performance and ridership are down.

Jim Frierson – Attended an RPA webinar in November where Jim Matthews and Joe Aiello discussed congressional activity. They said there would be a significant shift toward funding for multi-modal projects. Over the next 5 years $66 billion will be spent on rail. A concern is how well this and other money will be used. Some stimulus money in SC will go to transit, but it’s not clear how much. Some information about this was in the December 3 RPA “Hot Line’.

David Robinson tried to contact Allen Paul’s replacement at NCDOT and received no response.

Update on CAPT Newsletter and Website: Don and Martin have been doing well with the newsletter and plan to continue. The plan for the December issue is to look back over 2021 and highlight the progress which the organization has made. Don said it is also important to publicize the names of all CAPT members. He would like to encourage local face to face meetings and also encourage everyone who is able to to attend the RPA meeting in Washington, DC March 27-30.

Ralph will be asked to trace down non-working emails. The newsletter is being published on the website. David will put some of the station video he is creating on the NC On Track website.

Reports by Officers and Directors: Ed Locklin is back from a long trip (New Orleans, San Antonio, Chicago, New York, Charlotte). Dinning was very good on the Sunset, but other trains had the “flexible” food service. On the Crescent the food was prepared in the café and was carried to the rooms by the attendant. Jim Tilley suggested that the vaccination rate may limit service.

Planning for Future Meetings:

January 15 - Columbia – Jim Frierson will set this up

March 19 – Greensboro - Harry Clapp or Martin Wheeler will work on this

May 21 – Raleigh/Cary – David will check on this

July 16 – Myrtle Beach

September 17 – Fayetteville – Check with Don Stewart

November 19 (Annual Meeting) – Charlotte

Adjourn: 5:05 PM