NARP: Keeping Positive Pays Off.

I received a solicitation the other day from an organization claiming to be the only advocate for all of America’s rail passengers, including commuter and transit as well as folks riding Amtrak.
 Whoops! Sorry, but NARP—that’s the National Association of Railroad Passengers—also speaks up for all rail passengers and has been doing so for almost 50 years. Consider, please, some of NARP’s significant advocacy accomplishments over just the past year to 18 months:
* NARP helped to draft the rail-friendly provisions of the FAST Act … that’s the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act. NARP’s help was specifically requested by Congressional staff.
* NARP was instrumental in getting “Rail” added to the title of the current Surface Transportation bill—the first time rail has been so recognized in 40 years!
* NARP has taken an influential role as a member of the coalition formed to restore passenger train service between New Orleans and Florida.
* NARP jump-started the campaign for a daily Cardinal train by producing and distributing recorded announcements to almost 100 radio stations through five states.
* NARP made a formal presentation to the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors resulting in that organization taking an active pro-rail position.
* NARP filed six legal briefs, including one with the U.S. Supreme Court, challenging the freight railroads on the issues of giving Amtrak trains preference and measuring on-time performance.
* NARP generated literally hundreds of emails and letters from its members to the Surface Transportation Board, causing the STB to change a policy detrimental to passenger rail.
* NARP was asked by the Federal Railroad Administration to participate in three seperate FRA studies to expand rail service and solve other problems involving the freight railroads.
* NARP’s president and CEO, Jim Mathews, was appointed to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Travel and Tourism Infrastructure.
There is a great deal more to being an advocate for passenger trains than constant public criticism of Amtrak. Perhaps these other organizations would like to share their lists of positive accomplishments with the rest of us?
(In the interest of transparency, a reminder that I serve as an elected member of NARP’s board of directors.)