Rail Passenger Assocation Dues Increased

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dlagrua

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Just a heads up to all RPA members or those thinking of joining. The yearly dues has increased to $60 for an individual and $50 for a senior but I still feel its a good buy. You will get 400 points (individual) 200 points (senior) for joining/renewing membership and save 10% on Amtrak rail travel. My membership is not only for the perks but for the work that this association has been doing. In past years I didn't believe that the work RPA/NARP was doing was valuable, but under the leadership of Jim Mathews and his staff; the association has taken a more aggressive and engaging role. With our politicians and with Amtrak,they remain our only voice on passenger rail issues in Washington. Whether you agree or disagree; a decent LD trip with the Amtrak discount pays for the yearly membership and you end up with 460 or 250 pts to your AGR account. Sounds like a good deal to me.
 

neroden

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I also believe that RPA is really doing good work these days (since Jim became CEO).
 

jis

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I also believe that RPA is really doing good work these days (since Jim became CEO).
You better become a Council member since there is a rumor going around that a posse of old guards are trying to strong arm Jim out. ;) Just the impression I am getting from the noises emanating from various corners of the Council.
 
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Anderson

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That discussion would take way too much time...suffice it to say that I've begun losing my patience with one group of them while I'm sympathetic to the other.
 

jis

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Let's talk about it offline. I'll PM you.
 

bretton88

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While some people are unhappy that the RPA might seem to be too friendly to Amtrak, I do like the vision Jim is pursuing. The focus on increased engagement with Congress seems to be producing good results. I do think their non confrontational approach to Amtrak has produced been constructive, as they seem to be the only non Congress group that Amtrak has listened to.
 
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jis

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While some people are unhappy that the RPA might seem to be too friendly to Amtrak, I do like the vision Jim is pursuing. The focus on increased engagement with Congress seems to be producing good results. I do think their non confrontational approach to Amtrak has produced been constructive, as they seem to be the only non Congress group that Amtrak has listened to.
I agree with you on the operations front totally. He is very good at handling the liaison with Congress and other political contacts. Way better than the previous regime on which many old timers are still hung up. Of course, one major problem with RPA is that it is becoming progressively a more geriatric organization with ever more people suffering from issue that come with it.
 

Devil's Advocate

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So far as I can tell the primary benefit of supporting NARP/RPA is forestalling budget cuts and route abandonment. That seems to be something they're truly capable of fighting. As for demonstrable service improvements I've seen nothing of relevance in my neck of the woods.
 

Anderson

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So far as I can tell the primary benefit of supporting NARP/RPA is forestalling budget cuts and route abandonment. That seems to be something they're truly capable of fighting. As for demonstrable service improvements I've seen nothing of relevance in my neck of the woods.
This is always going to be, at best, a localized thing unless you get a push from DC. Part of the problem is a sort of "You can lead a horse to water" problem: Even if you give Amtrak money, it is hard to control how they spend it (especially since, given that Amtrak has to negotiate for access from the host railroads, even a mandate to restart a service could easily be blocked with "bungled" negotiations).
 

MARC Rider

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So far as I can tell the primary benefit of supporting NARP/RPA is forestalling budget cuts and route abandonment. That seems to be something they're truly capable of fighting. As for demonstrable service improvements I've seen nothing of relevance in my neck of the woods.
Do "service improvements" mean more frequencies, shorter point to point travel times, better on time performance, etc., or fancier food in the dining car and cafe, ticker mattresses and blankets in the sleeping cars, more attentive service from the attendants and waiters, etc.?

Given the political situation regarding funding, if I had to prioritize, I'd pick the first set of service improvements over the latter, though, of course, if money were available and the politics changed, I would want the latter, too.
 

dlagrua

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In view of the the circumstances, Jim is doing a great job at RPA, but he rides a thin line. Unbeknownst to many, RPA receives a promotional fee from Amtrak. If the "old guard" council is really trying to force Jim out, they may be getting too political with their affiliation with Amtrak. In the past some might agree that NARP/RPA did little to promote passenger rail but things have changed. Under Jim Mathews leadership, the RPA is engaged, has Anderson and the politicians listening. RPA is now sending the right message and working for Amtrak passengers . If you have ever had the pleasure to meet and speak with Jim, you'd probably feel the same way.
 

Palmetto

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Promotional fee from Amtrak? If true, that might explain their glorious outlook on the new rollout of the contemporary dining [now flexible dining] options last spring.
 

jis

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The only major fee that RPA received from Amtrak that I am aware of was for the contract that RPA had for running the ACAC for Amtrak. Apparently Anderson has sent that to oblivion. So I am not sure that there is any connection beyond the AGR points and the 10% discount deal between RPA and Amtrak
 

neroden

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You better become a Council member since there is a rumor going around that a posse of old guards are trying to strong arm Jim out. ;) Just the impression I am getting from the noises emanating from various corners of the Council.
Oh, I probably should. Major financial donor, major and active advocate, younger than the old guys, etc. However, being from New York, the poor state-based internal structure of the RPA Council makes it actual work/politicking for me to get on the Council, which I simply haven't wanted to do. Also, frankly, I'm not sure I can "maintain proper decorum at all times when representing the Association in public" :) I am known for my sharp tongue.

I've also been very busy with medical issues; I had to squeeze time for my trip to the RPA meeting and my Gathering trip around medical treatments. That's clearing up a bit, I hope. I will certainly do my best to speak my mind, and when I'm not at the business meetings I will try to have Cliff or Sasha or someone represent me. (I'm going to miss Sunday's meeting in Sacramento, I have a tourist thing I really want to do which has to be done ***that*** day, no other day available.)

RPA/NARP apparently flat-out pays Amtrak for the AGR points. Not sure how the discount deal works. But those are the only financial connections at this point.

The current RPA leadership is very polite about the previous regime (which they ousted), but frankly Ross Capon was a disaster as a leader, with the RPA getting nothing done on his watch while major route losses were incurred and membership declined. Anything to prevent his crowd from getting back in control. Jim knows what he's doing; obviously he isn't perfect but he's basically on the right path.
 

I like rolling hotels

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Thank you all. I never would have gotten this information elsewhere!

What is the "ACAC"? Sorry to be the dumb one but I am kind of an outsider to this.
 

jis

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pennyk

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dogbert617

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Yes, Jis is correct. ACAC is or was the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee, which was terminated by Amtrak this summer.
Amtrak really terminated ACAC this summer? Ugh, Anderson really sucks as Amtrak CEO, for doing that! Never mind the other crap he's also done, as well(i.e. making it harder for private cars to be attached to the back of long distance trains, implemented contemporary/flex dining, reducing the amount of special discounts Amtrak offers, etc).
 

Seaboard92

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It’s funny I don’t like either guard of RPA. I do not like Jim from my dealings with him. And I downright despise one of his close lieutenants which is why I’m not a member. But I also don’t like the old guard either.

What RPA needs to do to be a successful force into the future is grow their membership in my generation. And listen to my generation about what we are looking for. The old guard doesn’t do that because that’s not how things have been. And the Jim and crew I haven’t found overly friendly to it either.

But in all honesty I do not like any of the organized rail groups too much politics, and too little done.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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It’s funny I don’t like either guard of RPA...I do not like any of the organized rail groups too much politics, and too little done.
Hard to make much progress when the SCOTUS rules against your dispatching standards, the POTUS zeros your budget, and Congress undermines your F&B service with sledgehammer precision.
 

JRR

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Hard to make much progress when the SCOTUS rules against your dispatching standards, the POTUS zeros your budget, and Congress undermines your F&B service with sledgehammer precision.
Blame the Supreme Court, Congress and the President all you want but when AMTRACk won't, with transparency, honestly and accurately account for revenue and costs, there is no way for The legislative or executive branches to address the problems of AMTRAK or its management (one and the same).
 

RSG

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What RPA needs to do to be a successful force into the future is grow their membership in my generation. And listen to my generation about what we are looking for.
I've been told that your generation is basically antisocial, doesn't like being thrust in with strangers without a choice, and likes to hole up in their room when they have one.

One solution: eliminate traditional diner service and replace with grab-and-go, aka 'flex dining'.

Did they get that wrong? o_O
 

Devil's Advocate

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Blame the Supreme Court, Congress and the President all you want but when AMTRACk won't, with transparency, honestly and accurately account for revenue and costs, there is no way for The legislative or executive branches to address the problems of AMTRAK or its management (one and the same).
Who do you think nominates and approves Amtrak's board of directors? :cool:
 

jis

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Actually the way in which Amtrak does accounting is governed to a significant extent by the FRA under the able guidance of the Volpe Center, all driven by a set of vague instructions from the Congress interpreted by Volpe. Of course Amtrak has contributed mightily to the confusing situation, mainly by using opaque and sometimes unchanged inherited cost allocation plans, but they did not do it all on their own, nor can they fix it all on their own, no matter how much some want to believe that they can, and are just being obstructionist on their own. Suffice it to say that they are not jumping up to change the parts that they seemingly can either, but that is the normal behavior of established bureaucracies.
 
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