Spreading the Word on Opportunities for Improved Transportation
There are unprecedented funds available for transportation improvements under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Many communities are unfamiliar with these opportunities. All Aboard Washington (AAWA) is working to spread the word, because a robust, seamless transportation system will bring significant economic, environmental and equity benefits to communities of all sizes.
Together with All Aboard Northwest (AANW) and The Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates (AORTA), AAWA is conducting community outreach through our “Train Trek” events and the 2023 Greater Northwest Rail Passenger Summit. We invite you to support these efforts.
All Aboard Washington (AAWA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that has promoted better passenger and freight rail service in the Pacific Northwest for almost fifty years. We champion safe, reliable, frequent, competitive, and convenient passenger rail services that meet the needs of all. AAWA's goal is to promote the development of our rail system for the benefit of the traveling public. We are especially active supporters of intercity passenger rail service and intermodal connections to local transit.
AORTA—The Association of Oregon Rail and Transit Advocates—is a citizen advocacy group working to educate the public about the need for safe, fiscally responsible, environmentally sound transportation. AORTA is actively working to restore, and even expand, passenger rail service to Eastern Oregon.
All Aboard Northwest (AANW) advocates for the needs of rail passengers in the Greater Northwest (GNW) region of the United States. We build relationships with infrastructure and transportation interests across state lines to promote rail investments that improve economic, environmental, and equity outcomes for our region’s inhabitants. In 2021, several Senators from the region requested that a GNW working group be created. In 2022, AANW was created as the rail advocacy organization representing the region as an outgrowth of the informal working group.
Working Toward Achieving Our Vision
Our joint vision is for seamless multimodal transportation connectivity for the Greater Northwest region of the United States focused around a robust passenger rail system core. Improved door-to-door connectivity between sidewalks, local public transit, and intercity rail provides economic, environmental, and equity benefits to all, including low-income, tribal, disability, and rural communities; locations where transportation alternatives are limited; and the nearly 30 percent of the population that does not drive.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding provides an unprecedented opportunity for communities to improve their transportation infrastructure. But many people don’t know about it. We have been working to get the word out through our “Train Trek” events and the 2023 Greater Northwest Rail Passenger Summit, and other coordinated, on-the-ground community engagement that builds local awareness and support for these projects.
We focus on engaging, educating, and energizing the public, elected officials, the press, business and local leaders through a wide variety of outreach activities such as Train Treks; presentations for legislators and communities; soliciting resolutions and letters of support; content publishing; coalition building; and event planning.
We conduct the “Train Trek” series of in-person and electronic meetings in communities of all sizes throughout the region.
Train Treks are a series of outreach and engagement meetings held in local communities. They are an efficient and effective way to meet local stakeholders, gain valuable information, make the proper connections, and build the coalitions needed to realize visionary, large-scale, infrastructure projects.
Train Treks can be focused along a specific corridor (for a specific route proposal), a specific audience (elderly, college students, etc.), a specific type of development (Transit Oriented Development, local industrial economic development), or scope of service and benefit (rural communities with few other options).
AAWA is requesting sponsorship of Train Treks in order to further the call for a robust multi-modal transportation network. A sponsor can fund the Train Treks, or one or more specific Train Trek that aligns with their specific goals.
Even in the 21st Century, showing up matters. We gain far more insight, local engagement, and respect by meeting with people in person, while still offering electronic connections to those who cannot attend otherwise.
We have received invitations to include the following locations in the 2023 Train Trek, with more planned:
- Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences, Yakima, WA
- Portland State University, Portland, OR
- Halfway, OR
- Weiser, ID
- Boise, ID
The purposes of Train Treks are to:
- Improve awareness of rail issues and opportunities in the Greater Northwest by educating the public.
- Discover and leverage opportunities for better collaboration with stakeholders and partners.
- Increase our capacity to educate the public and elected officials to serve its mission and vision, in line with its charter as a nonprofit organization.
- Promote multi-modal transportation options, focused on a comprehensive network of long-distance, intercity, and regional passenger rail services that are economically-viable and user-friendly.
- Solicit community support such as resolutions and letters to elected officials.
- Encourage community action in support of a specific proposal, vision, project, or legislation.
- Receive local feedback so that we can convey community needs to elected leaders.
Over eighteen days in August 2022, we traveled through the Greater Northwest to gather support for restoring the Pioneer, the North Coast Hiawatha, and other passenger train services.
We discussed the benefits of passenger rail with local communities, and received public feedback on how we can best work together to improve our transportation system. We met with many elected officials and community leaders, all of whom were anxious to work with us. In addition, Train Trek events were covered by the press in small towns and large cities.
2021 East-West Washington Train Trek
From August 12 - 21, 2021, AAWA led a series of meetings across Washington and Idaho, in the communities of Edmonds, Everett, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Yakima, Toppenish, Richland, Walla Walla, Spokane, Cheney, Ritzville, and Ellensburg, Washington; and Lewiston, Idaho.
2021 Colorado-Wyoming-Montana-South Dakota Train Treks
In June, July and August, 2021, AANW conducted a number of meetings across the region, in the communities of Cheyenne, Wheatland, Douglas, Thermopolis, Greybull, Evanston, Rawlins, and Laramie, Sheridan, Gillette, Moorcroft, Sundance, Lusk, Spearfish, Sturgis, Worland, Salem, Mitchell, Plankinton, Chamberlain, Kennebec, Presho, Murdo, Kadoka, and Hot Springs.
The Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit brings passenger railroad organizations, advocates and enthusiasts together with local, state and federal elected officials and policymakers, host railroads and rail infrastructure experts to educate, innovate and coordinate for the restoration, expansion and enhancement of passenger rail service across the Greater Northwest.
The passage in late 2021 of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) has created the best opportunity in decades to expand and improve passenger rail access, and no region of the country is in more need of that expansion and improvement than the Greater Northwest. Now is the time for rail advocates and policymakers from across the region to start coordinating to ensure the “second rail revolution” doesn’t pass us by.
The 2023 Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit will be held July 16-20, 2023 in Boise, ID.
AORTA, AANW and AAWA had significant participation in planning and execution of the 2022 Greater Northwest Passenger Rail Summit in Billings, MT. We conducted several presentations, including “Returning Passenger Trains to a Station Near You: Why and How,” “Passenger Rail/Freight Rail Synchronicity,” and “Environmental Benefits.”
We were also members of the planning committee; created, managed and hosted the Summit website; and managed online registration.
As the centerpiece of the 2021 Train Treks, AANW, AAWA and AORTA participated in the 30th Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit in Big Sky, Montana.
We moderated PNWER’s first-ever Rail Forum; we gave two presentations during the Forum, and AAWA Government Affairs Director Luis Moscoso led a closing discussion with state representative Andrew Barkis of Washington and state senator Chris Gorsek of Oregon.
We generate publicity locally, regionally, and nationally for our cause and our partners. We publish a blog and post frequently on social media.
Central to our social media strategy is the Mastodon server we operate called Rail.chat. This has been very successful in bringing together a community of like-minded folks to share ideas and plans throughout the region and beyond.
A few of the press mentions we received in the past year:
Western Governors' Association: Best of the West: Regional investments in trains
- Republished in East Oregonian (photo)
- Republished in Yahoo News
- Republished in Eugene Daily News
- Republished in Mass Transit
Elkhorn Media Group: A Push for Passenger Rail in the Pacific Northwest
Salt Lake City Weekly: All Aboard
- Republished in Wyo4News
City of Rock Springs YouTube: Returning Passenger Trains to a Station Near You
Sweetwater Now: RS City Council Hears Pitch on Return of Passenger Train Service
With your help, we can continue our work toward making a better rail network in the Greater Northwest happen! All Aboard Washington is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Thank you for your support!