Happening Now

Celebrating 25 Years of Hotline

March 17, 2023

By Jim Mathews / President & CEO

I’ll start with a caveat: let’s pause to celebrate what we THINK is at least 25 years of the Hotline, your Association’s attempt every week to keep you up to date as advocates on what you need to know to work in your community for more and better trains.

The staff has been working on an archiving project, gathering up Hotline editions and potentially even scanning in our oldest paper-only records sitting today in our Washington, DC, closet. When you count up the numbers of the editions, today, March 17, 2023, we’re up to 1,300 – and that’s 25 years, today, of Hotlines.

The caveat comes from the fact that the numbering system seems to have had a few breaks in it, and there are also a few missing editions. If anyone out there among our very first founding members can say for sure, please let us know at [email protected].

I recall when I started here as your President in 2014, my predecessor and friend Ross Capon and I chatted about a lot of things I needed to know as I took on the role. One of the things he told me about was how before I arrived the Hotline was a literal hotline, a phone number that members called to get the latest intelligence from DC.

Ross quipped to me today that “many a Friday evening, we’d re-record it to get it ‘better.’”

So, for decades, Fridays have been among the busiest days for your small-but-mighty staff. And it’s still true today.

On St. Patrick’s Day, maybe it’s fitting to hoist a glass in honor of 25 years of The Hotline, not because it’s just a publishing milestone, but because of what it represents – decades of commitment to get information to members, supporters, and the general public every week that you should know as you work for more and better trains, to more places, serving more people, everywhere in the U.S.

It's also a good time to re-commit to that part of our mission, making sure you have as much information as you possibly can have to do our work in your community. We’ve added things to the toolbox, things like Facebook, Twitter, and our regular Webinar series, and we’re working on plans this year to add a few more tools as well. But the Hotline is going to keep on humming, just as it has for at least 25 years. So here’s to the Hotline, and to many more years to come!