Today on 19 December, 2020 ORBT member Steve Strauss and I talked on the phone about the future of our growing organization. I told him I looked at becoming a 503c a couple of years ago. I also looked at becoming a chapter of Rail Passengers Association. We discussed the pros and cons of becoming a chapter of RPA. I want to work with them on a variety of projects. But now that there are some members here who seem passionate about ORBT maybe we can become a 503c. The advantages are that we will be taken more seriously by stake holders in local mass transit, other groups like RPA, and elected officials we lobby.
Steve and I also discussed how to engage Wal-Mart and other large corporations. I get the idea that they are at work behind the scenes to build a mass transit system in NWA.
We also discussed a state wide rail program. This has the advantage addressing rail travel as a state wide issue instead of as just applying to NWA. AS it is, there will be some jealousy in the state Ledge if we are seen as soaking up all the funding for just 2 counties or 3 if we include Pulaski County too. I also found out there is a movement in Pulaski County for a stronger mass transit system.
We discussed whether to push for a passenger train to add momentum to mass transit or work on a bus rapid system first. Steve made the point that middle class people will more likely ride a train than a bus. I find this to be true too. A train system can drive real estate development and keep new housing in a tight corridor.
OBRT opposed Prop 1, the ballot initiative that added a 1 cent sales tax to the Arkansas Constitution. We discussed how some other organizations were afraid of ARDot.
It was good to meet another member. I can’t wait until we can start meeting in person again.