Happening Now

NARP and Amtrak Interns Learn From Each Other

July 23, 2013

Written By Logan McLeod

Colin Leach, Lessie Henderson and myself, NARP’s team of 2013 summer interns, presented on behalf of NARP to Amtrak’s Government Affairs and Corporate Communications staff at a luncheon yesterday. We also had a chance to share experiences with Amtrak’s two summer Government Affairs interns.

The NARP interns combined our talents along with our knowledge and understanding of the Association’s mission to create a clear and concise message that said what NARP is, where it is going, and how we are going to get there.

Our goal after leaving that room was for Amtrak staff to have a better understanding of how the association and its members complement their efforts in advocating for legislation that sustains existing passenger rail service and increases appropriations for passenger rail everywhere. I’m happy to say that my colleagues and I left with a sense of each party having gained a more thorough understanding of the other’s work.

We began by introducing the Association and giving a brief history of NARP. Colin, who presented this portion, is known around the office as the “Railroad Encyclopedia.” With his extensive background in all aspects of history and on current legislative agendas he made himself a presence in the room. He detailed the past milestones that NARP supporters were able to achieve through their tireless efforts and generous contributions. He made the point that without our supporters and members these accomplishments may have never happened. His passion for the Association’s cause rang true in every statement he made to the Amtrak audience.

Colin Leach. All photos by Ross Capon.
Colin Leach. All photos by Ross Capon.

After Colin’s eloquent description of NARP and our vision for the future, it was my turn to explain why NARP is the passenger’s voice. We work on behalf of what you, the rider want to happen with passenger rail. I began by explaining the importance of becoming a single community of passenger rail customers and supporters. We must collaborate and combine our efforts to make passenger rail travel—be it local, commuter, across the state, or long distance—effective and convenient for Americans everywhere.

I stressed the importance of outside investment and partnerships with Independent (non-Amtrak) passenger train services in order to expand routes and availability. I then emphasized the need to reach out to younger generations and garner their support to rally for what they deserve: better mobility in this country. I finally proposed the cross-promotional opportunities with events and like-minded agencies in order to create more awareness among these new potential supporters

Logan McLeod (right)
Logan McLeod (right)

Next was Lessie. Her background in social media gave her the means to explain how we were to reach out and disseminate the message of passenger rail and its vital role in the success of a prosperous America. She commanded the audience’s attention with her ideas on networking and community involvement to strengthen Amtrak’s visibility within a region and state. Lessie has produced a plan that can draw the attention of new demographics.

Lessie Henderson
Lessie Henderson

The three of us concluded with a slide entitled “The Big Picture,” emphasizing three point

  1. Congress constantly demands that Amtrak justify its existence and its long term vision. Yet Congress has never given Amtrak the resources to do any meaningful long-term planning and execute multi-year capital investment projects—this would require a dedicated source of funding like those which highways and aviation enjoy.
  2. NARP has a vision for consolidating Amtrak’s past gains and building on them for the future.
  3. NARP bridges policy and action: Amtrak looks to Congress for long term vision which it has not (or cannot) provide. Each of our members represents a voice for more trains, and collectively, we can form the vision for the future of passenger rail in this country.

The future looks bright for NARP and its mission. Let’s keep the fight going by growing our base of those who know that train travel is an economically viable option for transportation and is necessary for the future success of this country. Thanks again to Amtrak Government Affairs & Corporate Communications for giving us the opportunity to present to your staff.