Station Volunteers Step In to Support Rail in East Lansing, MI
August 16, 2019
Rail Passengers to National Launch Volunteer Program on August 23 and 24
For Immediate Release (19-13)
Contact: Xenophon Strategies - (202) 289-4001
(East Lansing, MI) - Members of the East Lansing and surrounding communities are coming together on August 23 and 24 to help enhance the passenger rail experience for people traveling on Amtrak. This is the Rail Passengers Association launch of its nationwide Station Volunteer Program which aims to help fill the void left after Amtrak unstaffed stations across the country as a part of an overhaul to the national rail network.
“The Station Volunteer Program comes down to customer experience, and providing Amtrak passengers with a service that makes them feel welcomed into the community,” said Rail Passengers Association President and CEO Jim Mathews. “This is a unique program that couldn’t exist without the commitment made by amazing volunteers, and we hope to expand the program to other cities throughout the U.S.”
The program will launch on Friday, August 23 with a Station Volunteer Open House at the East Lansing Capital Area Multimodal Gateway located at 1240 South Harrison Road. The event will run from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 23 and again on Saturday, August 24 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The open house welcomes community members and volunteers to the station and will include refreshments and giveaways for guests. Members of the Rail Passengers Association, the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, and Amtrak will be on hand to provide information and answer questions.
The program is set up to have volunteers available to assist passengers of Amtrak’s “Blue Water” train that passes through East Lansing, and travels between Port Huron, MI and Chicago, IL. These state-supported trains are financed primarily through funds made available by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). There is one Eastbound train and one Westbound train daily, and volunteers will staff the station one hour prior to train arrival and one hour after each train departs barring any delays.
Train #365 - Westbound - East Lansing to Chicago
Train #364 - Eastbound - Chicago to East Lansing
Station volunteers, wearing ID badges and safety vests will be able to answer travelers’ questions about Amtrak trains and services, promote rail advocacy, highlight local attractions, foster a spirit of hospitality and promote an inviting atmosphere at the station.
"I am excited to begin my work as the volunteer station manager, and my hope is that we can be the smiling and helpful face of the Lansing region to the thousands of passengers coming in and out of our station every year. I have a passion for good public transportation, and I think a volunteer station host program will be an effective way for our region to take community ownership over this highly-used station which draws students, commuters, vacationers, businesspeople, and so much more into our beautiful community,” said Joshua Hamilton, a volunteer for the East Lansing station.
Rail Passengers organized the program in partnership with Amtrak, MDOT, the Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA), Michigan State University (MSU) and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP).
“This has been a major undertaking that has involved many key partners to make sure the volunteer program gets underway,” said Mathews. “Based on its success, we want to expand it to other U.S. communities that would benefit from the assistance of community volunteers.”
The Rail Passengers Association is looking for sponsorship partners for the Station Volunteer Program in East Lansing as well as future locations across the country. If you are interested in learning more about funding the program please contact Jonsie Stone with the Rail Passengers Association at 202-408-8362 x3207 or [email protected].
Anyone interested in becoming a station volunteer is welcome to attend either day of the open house, or email [email protected]. Those interested in becoming a member of the Rail Passengers Association or the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers can visit us online or pick up information either day of the open house.
In addition to the launch in August, once MSU students arrive to campus this fall, Rail Passengers plans to host a second open house for students who are interested in learning about the program.
About the Rail Passengers Association
The Rail Passengers Association is the oldest and largest national organization speaking for the nearly 40 million users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.
"Saving the Pennsylvanian (New York-Pittsburgh train) was a local effort but it was tremendously useful to have a national organization [NARP] to call upon for information and support. It was the combination of the local and national groups that made this happen."
Michael Alexander, NARP Council Member
April 6, 2013, at the Harrisburg PA membership meeting of NARP