All Aboard Washington
PO Box 70381
Seattle, WA 98127-0381
January 28, 2022
Fellow Passenger Rail Advocate,
While I’m retired after 33 years (1985-2018) as WashARP/All Aboard Washington’s (AAWA) Executive Director, I fully support and have admiration for the excellent work current AAWA leadership is doing to increase the role of intercity passenger trains in Washington and the Pacific Northwest.
Following the tragic Dec, 18, 2017 derailment of the initial run of Amtrak Cascades 501 on the Point Defiance Bypass which cost three lives, including key AAWA officers Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite, coupled with the severe impacts of passenger train service and patronage in Washington and nationwide resulting from the Covid pandemic, membership in AAWA has declined.
The lack of in-person meetings during the pandemic (a prudent decision in my view) and the absence of regular AAWA newsletters (Jim Hamre’s decades’-long responsibility) added to the membership attrition.
AAWA maintains a very good website and Facebook pages, but they don’t appear to replace the newsletters and particularly the in-person events in the minds of some AAWA members.
A quick look at some of what today’s AAWA leadership is doing will persuade you to join or rejoin us:
- AAWA held a series of “Train Trek“ meetings in Central and Eastern Washington, featuring local community leaders and elected officials as a means of getting support for more intercity passenger train service east of the Cascades. AAWA’s presentations to the prestigious Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) were very well received. AAWA is recognized as THE voice for passenger trains in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada.
- AAWA is cooperating with, and assumes the leadership role on rail with several other state “green” and special interest groups. AAWA’s Government Affairs Director (and former State representative) Luis Moscoso is daily working Olympia’s Capitol Hill (even if by phone and email) in behalf of rail.
- I was particularly impressed by AAWA’s very strong presence at the January 26 meeting of our state’s Legislative Rail Caucus. The Rail Caucus, which was founded by Luis Moscoso during his time in the Legislature, had to meet virtually on Zoom. The LRC includes a wide variety of rail providers, rail users, state and local officials, and importantly on the 26th, included about 20 legislators, Senate and House, Democrat and Republican, from around the state. While some non-legislator attendees had comments for the legislators, All Aboard had two papers to present. The first paper was a joint statement by AAWA and two environmental groups, “Washington State Rail Policy Recommendations” documented both short and long-term goals. The second paper, which was summarized by AAWA’s Charles Hamilton, was “2022 Legislative Priorities.” Not only was AAWA the most prepared of any of the non-legislator entities represented on the 26th, AAWA leadership maintains excellent rapport with the Democratic and Republican legislative leaders on rail transportation.
So due the circumstances essentially beyond anyone’s control, AAWA’s strong light has “hidden under a bushel’ for much of our traditional membership. While it is universally hoped in-person meetings and activities can again happen, I would hope you can rejoin and support those in current AAWA leadership who are bringing the light from under the bushel to those with the power to bring about the increased role for passenger trains we all support.
Thank you for continuing to support AAWA’s work to make Washington more accessible, environmentally sustainable, and business-friendly for our future generations. Donate today at https://www.aawa.us/support/ or mail your check to All Aboard Washington, P.O. Box 70381, Seattle, WA 98127-0381.
Lloyd H Flem
Executive Director Emeritus
All Aboard Washington