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About JimAtNARP

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    Train Attendant
  1. JimAtNARP

    New NARP President

    Hi Folks: I'm Jim Mathews and I'm stepping in as the President & CEO of NARP on September 8. I used to post here as JimInVA, and despite the best efforts of the admins, we can't seem to make that account come back to life properly. So I've changed my forum ID to JimAtNARP. If you like, you can use the Search function to find some of my previous posts, including a fun trip report about a Halloween ride from DC to New Orleans. Good times (or, Bon Temps, if you like...)! My most recent (and relevant) experience was a six-year term on the national Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee (ACAC), including the final two years as its Chair. We did a lot of good work and made a lot of headway. And I made many, many new friends, some of whom posted congratulatory notes on the NARP website after I was appointed, and others who, I'm pretty sure, post here from time to time. It's been overwhelming, but really positive to hear from hundreds of people since the announcement! I recently sent a note out to the NARP Council and leadership, and this seems as good a time as any to share its thoughts with all of you. In general, I plan to look for new and additional ways to hear from NARP members, friends and followers, and I'm wide open to hearing from all of you. One thought I had was perhaps a monthly conference call/web chat kind of thing...but there are other ideas out there, too. Lastly, I intend to spend a lot of time out on the rails and visiting with NARP members and people in communities looking to boost rail. I think it's important to hear from everyone doing advocacy at the grassroots level, and to look for ways to support all the work that's already being done. I'm reposting my note to the Council members in its entirety below. And I'll keep participating in this forum. >> What a wonderful welcome I’m getting! I’ve seen a few friends from my time on the Amtrak Customer Advisory Committee commenting, as well as thoughts from members across the country I hope to meet soon. I’ll do my best to answer each person, but I also thought this might be a good time to tell you more about me and what I see ahead for NARP. First, the best way to be effective is to focus relentlessly on a few key goals and to avoid dissipating energies across many causes. Your board, Council and many of you contributed to distilling four key advocacy goals for us to pursue: 1. Improve and expand conventional intercity passenger train service. 2. Support construction and start up operation of at least one true high-speed rail line segment within the next five years. 3. Promote seamless intermodal connections using rail to tie modes together. 4. Champion safety, particularly full implementation of Positive Train Control “done right” and grade crossing protection/elimination. Now, under each of those there’s room for a lot of good work, and I’m eager to get started. I’m also very eager to hear from members about issues in their communities and places where members hope to “plug in.” We’re hoping to tap your energy to make NARP even more effective and to make your membership count. I grew up with the Amtrak slogan “there’s something about a train that’s magic.” And yes, that’s absolutely true. My wife and our sons have enjoyed some of the best times of our lives on the California Zephyr, the Southwest Chief, the Empire Builder, the Coast Starlight and many others. From my first solo trip across the country as a lad of eight years old (I’ll tell you about it sometime!) to a high-school graduation trip we took with three of our four teenaged sons and multiple dozens of Acela trips between DC and New York City, I’ve logged some 64,000 actual Amtrak rail miles. And to me, every single one of those miles was magical. But let’s be clear. All the Amtrak ridership records being set year after year after year aren’t being set by ‘magic.’ Millions of Americans of every age are discovering, or rediscovering, that there’s something about a train that’s not just magic, but vital. It’s time to take advantage of this groundswell. All of us who want a modern, efficient, nationwide network that uses rail to tie modes together can seize this unique moment…if we’re willing to roll up our sleeves and do it. While nostalgia and romance will always play a role in rail’s timeless appeal across generations, it is now time for rail advocacy to take its place alongside proponents of other industries delivering a positive, forward-looking message about solving today’s transportation challenges. Now is the best moment in decades to find new ways to amplify your voices, the voices of NARP members, to engage a whole new generation of rail advocates. I want to create a diverse coalition of partnerships, both traditional and non-traditional, so that every American will have ready access to world-class 21st century rail travel. I’m ready to work with each of you to make it happen. << All the best, JIM M.