FROM THE CAB - January 2021

By Martin Wheeler
President - Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains

It’s 2021 – finally. A vaccine is here. By year’s end, many Americans will be vaccinated, which means good things for the American passenger rail system. As a light rail train operator in Charlotte, I have personally witnessed drastic declines in ridership as men, women, and children opt to avoid congregating in close spaces. Ridership continues to be low. COVID 19 effects must fade before train ridership recovers to pre-pandemic levels.

Metaphorically speaking, the Carolinas Association for Passenger Trains has been in the station since last February. Like many Americans, we have learned to zoom, with several meetings (most recently, Saturday, January 16) conducted with the help of this now popular technology. We may find “zoom” type meetings a better way of communicating versus asking individuals to travel for bi-monthly board meetings. Going forward, what would you think of meeting monthly by “zoom?”

Former CAPT board member Gene Kirkland has received special recognition. He served tirelessly as treasurer, newsletter editor, membership secretary, train host, and meeting representative. CAPT has a 12-member board, with membership from both Carolinas. More members are needed to solidify and increase the board.

2021 is already looking up with recent news of federal grants to North Carolina. One would purchase CSX track between Raleigh and Ridgeway as part of the Raleigh to Richmond high speed rail plan. Two others would fund purchase of 6 locomotives and 21 passenger cars for the state’s Raleigh to Charlotte corridor.

CAPT is no longer a 501c3 non-profit – and will remain so, at least for now. Our treasury’s balance is $315 – the minimum cost to reapply for the non-profit designation is $1,000. Dues and donations are not deductible now.

To grow membership and increase our visibility, we want to work toward a classy, inexpensive monthly publication. This is our first effort toward that end.