With the legislature ending its session, I thought you’d like to know what we did to support our cause.
We had three goals: to bring Amtrak back without delay, to bring Amtrak back better with better food, stations and marketing and to create a governance structure allowing a public-private partnership to at some point operate local commuter rail service to Burlington.
Many of you wrote the Governor to urge the return of Amtrak. Thank you. Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass: the state is opening but the train isn’t here. But the July 19th startup might have been even later without our attention.
We enlisted support for the trains from other organizations to magnify the power of our cause. We identified 125 potential supportive organizations, which is valuable for future efforts.
We met with Vtrans to discuss better food, stations and marketing. We want local food on board. Vtrans appreciates this goal. Implementing it has challenges. Vtrans is working on station improvements. We believe rail advocate volunteers can contribute. We’ve met with Vtrans to discuss marketing. Several initiatives are in the works. If the train is already running, increasing ridership has an environmental footprint of near zero and improves the financial sustainability of the service.
At one point this session we had legislative language in the T-bill establishing a legislative study committee for a transit authority that could facilitate local rail service. That language was removed, but it occurred to us we could do our own study without needing legislative authorization. It is also possible to use or modify existing structures.
We’ve joined with other Vermont organizations advocating sustainable transportation in the T4VT coalition. I found participation tremendously valuable – to our cause and personally.
Our work is essentially communicating the vision. Besides legislators and Vtrans a wide variety of conversations and communications happened along with presentations to groups such as the Sustainable Transportation Vermont, the Empire State Passengers Association and others.
Critical to our communication is the VRAN mailing list. We migrated this list from Hubspot to civiCRM in the fall, which was a big piece of work. The list has needed clean up and updating. This too has taken a lot of time and there is much yet to do.
A big thank you to you and everyone who has helped.