New ARP Takes Root in Missouri and Illinois
January 24, 2014
Written By Jenna Jablonski
MIRail Passengers Association already has 140 members, a quarter of which also belong to NARP.
Fifty passenger rail advocates gathered at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station on January 11 for the inaugural meeting of the Missouri-Illinois Rail Passenger Association (MIRPA). Of the fifty guests, 35 were MIRail Passengers Association members and 15 were visitors. Seven members from western Missouri traveled in on Amtrak.
NARP member Rich Eichhorst led the meeting, introducing Missouri Representative Rick Stream to address the group on the future of passenger rail in Missouri. Rep. Stream, who regularly commutes on Amtrak from Kirkwood to Jefferson City, spoke about the increase in Amtrak ridership in Missouri and how the state subsidizes that service with $8 million a year. He added that in Illinois American labor will be used to build new passenger cars.
According to Eichhorst, meeting attendees were enthusiastic about getting started. “Folks are ready to spread the word,” he said. The new grassroots organization plans to contact local, state, and national officials to communicate the importance of balanced transportation.
“We plan to be advocates strongly supporting Amtrak,” Eichhorst said. “We also plan to be watchdogs reporting on things that need attention.”
Additionally, MIRail Passengers Association will focus on greater frequency of trains and expanding bus connections to major cities.
The new group already has 140 members, a quarter of which are NARP members as well. Eichhorst hopes to see MIRail Passengers Association membership reach 250 by the end of this year.
To join MIRail Passengers Association or get more information, send a SASE to Box 6915, St. Louis, MO 63123.
Missouri Rep. Rick Stream
MIRail Passengers Association and NARP member Rich Eichhorst
Photos by Joseph Oberneufemann, Editor of the Gateway Railletter
"When [NARP] comes to Washington, you help embolden us in our efforts to continue the progress for passenger rail. And not just on the Northeast Corridor. All over America! High-speed rail, passenger rail is coming to America, thanks to a lot of your efforts! We’re partners in this. ... You are the ones that are going to make this happen. Do not be dissuaded by the naysayers. There are thousands of people all over America who are for passenger rail and you represent the best of what America is about!"
Secretary Ray LaHood, U.S. Department of Transportation
2012 NARP Spring Council Meeting