Happening Now

Train advocacy in the Sunshine State

October 17, 2013

Written By Malcolm Kenton

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Tomorrow afternoon, I will board Amtrak's southbound Silver Star here at Washington Union Station to travel overnight to Jacksonville, Florida, where NARP will hold its annual Fall Meeting on Saturday and Sunday. Every October, the NARP Council of Representatives--an all-volunteer advisory body--meets in a different city in the country, and all NARP members are invited to join them. These meetings offer not just an opportunity for leaders in passenger train advocacy from across the country to network face-to-face and discuss ways to form a stronger national movement, but also an opportunity to raise awareness about our work in different parts of the country.

In Florida, some Council members will tour the Amtrak Auto Train terminal facility in Sanford, which serves the country's only train that carries people and their cars overnight, giving them the opportunity to arrive relaxed and avoid a long drive while still having the use of their own cars at their destinations. On Saturday, we will hear from the leaders of All Aboard Florida, which is working to build an entirely privately-financed passenger train corridor between downtown Miami and Orlando International Airport, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. We will also be touting our continuing efforts, in cooperation with elected officials and business leaders in the region, to bring Amtrak service back to the Gulf Coast (New Orleans to Florida) and fill in this obvious gap in Amtrak's national network.

On Sunday, one of our featured speakers will be Dr. Anthony Perl, who started his career in transportation as a NARP intern in the mid-1970s. He is now a Professor of Urban Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and has written two books on passenger rail policy and sustainable transportation: New Departures: Rethinking Passenger Rail Policy in the Twenty-First Century and Transport Revolutions: Moving People and Freight Without Oil. Finally, we will hear from Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D), the Ranking Member of the House Railroads Subcommittee, whose district includes Jacksonville. She has been a stalwart proponent of investing in and growing the nation's passenger train network, including the restoration of the Gulf Coast Connector.

If you happen to be near Jacksonville this weekend, you are welcome to join us at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront hotel downtown. Registration rates are $220 for the full meeting ($175 for first-time attendees; $160 for young adults); $115.00 for Saturday only ($40 not including meals) and $110 for Sunday only ($18 not including meals). Click here for the agenda.