It seems like a lot has changed in the last couple of months. The new Biden Administration wants to build out a national rail network, and build high speed rail. There are other efforts like this promoted in Congress. NWA is not an island and we need a national effort so we can build our own local green public transportation system. There are changes coming to Ozark Regional Transit. Plus ORBT has grown and it felt to me as though ORBT needs to take a new direction. This afternoon we had a meeting of several ORBT members. Keaton Smith, Thomas Brown, Jane Ann Loyd, Micah Wallace, Billy Cook, and myself. I used a Facebook Meeting Room on the ORBT FB page.
We discussed how Steve Womack can help us since he is on two House Committees that relate to public transportation. Namely the House Appropriations Committee and a House subcommittee on transportation. I am communicating with his staff to try to build up an effective relationship with Representative Womack.
We discussed the situation with Ozark Regional Transit Authority, our RTA, and how it is related to Ozark Regional Mobility Authority, and if either are related to Ozark Region Transit, the bus service provider. The confusion is not good obviously. The good news is the ORTA Board is reorganizing. We have a group goal of getting some of our members on the revamped ORTA board. We need members in Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville to especially work with their mayors or city council members to get appointed to the board. ORBT members will advocate for green mass transit (electric vehicles), a clear boundary between ORTA, ORT, and the Mobility Authority. In order to get bigger transit projects, we will look at the process the NWA council went through to get Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA). Remember that XNA is public transportation too. It was recommended that we might look to partner with Rob Smith at the NWA Council. We will ask ORT how we can help them.
The NWA Regional Planning Commission’s2045 plan will be available possibly January. We will provide a copy and a summary when it comes out to our members, including on this website.
We discussed the need to grow our member base. We have had good growth and we have a fairly diverse group. But we need more members from Springdale, Rogers, and Bentonville. We ask that you please post FB page and this website on your Facebook page and invite people to join.
To broaden our social media reach I’m going to start an email news letter for people who don’t do Facebook that often. I was asked repost Connect NWA as pinned post. I added a link to it on the pinned post on Facebook.
We are looking a more formal ORBT organization. Possibly as a chapter of the Passenger Rail Association. PRA works on local transit projects, including buses, as well as national rail projects. They can help us lobby state lawmakers and give us an opportunity to lobby Federal lawmakers. Like Steve Womack. I am going to try a podcast to reach more people and see if that is a better way to inform our members, and citizens. I want to thank all the members who attended. We had a great meeting and involved discussion. This was a good hour.