FROM THE CAB - June 2021

By Martin Wheeler, President, CAPT

Editor’s Note: Tod Bassler, a council representative to the Rail Passengers Association, grew up in Europe and enjoyed outstanding passenger rail service. Now living in Indiana, where he edits All Aboard Indiana for the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, Bassler fights hard to educate policy makers on the need for improved transportation options in the U.S.

One item in his advocacy toolbox is an Elevator Speech, which he uses in an elevator (or anywhere) with a transportation decision maker. The following message can be used “when you have at most one or two minutes” to influence a politician. Bassler’s short version reads as follows:

ALL ABOARD INDIANA Short Version -- Our transportation options in the USA have changed a lot over the last few centuries. While our country was built with the help of the railroad, today's options for getting around are much more limited. Our population has more than doubled since 1950 (now 332 million) and the automobile, a low-density transportation option, can no longer get the job done efficiently, especially in urban areas.

While the rest of the advanced industrial economies have invested in right sizing transportation options, we here in the USA have not. Traffic jams are now common on our roads and waste a lot of our precious, unrecoverable time. Adding more and expensive highway lanes does not solve the space problem. Will you help fix our country's transportation “jam” by supporting investment in improved passenger rail?

Bassler also has a long version of his Elevator Speech, useful for when you have someone’s (or a group’s attention for at least 15 minutes. It begins as follows:

ALL ABOARD INDIANA Long Version-- The United States of America was built over two centuries ago by hard working visionaries using a transportation tool that got the job done, the railroad. A half century ago, a newer transportation option, the automobile, matured to the point when Americans decided that the apparent freedom of the automobile was too good to resist. 

Both the long and short versions of Bassler’s rail advocacy Elevator Speeches were published in the Second Quarter 2021 issues of All Aboard Indiana. Click here for an online PDF copy of the most recent edition of All Aboard Indiana. The railroad advocacy speeches begin on page three.