Rail User’s Network Brings Annual National Conference to L.A.

I first became aware of the Rail Users’ Network (RUN) some years ago when they held their Board meeting in Los Angeles and invited local transit activists to attend and observe. While I was already a member of several rail advocacy groups including National Association of Rail Passengers and RailPAC, I found appealing RUN’s broad scope, dealing with passenger rail issues both national and local, and appreciated its strong customer focus. After joining I eventually also began contributing articles to the quarterly newsletter and more recently was elected to the Board.

RUN LogoBesides advocacy RUN also puts on an annual conference. In past years it was held in such cities as Philadelphia, Chicago and Washington, D.C. When contemplating where to hold its conference this year a desire was expressed among the members of the Board to raise the group’s profile on the west coast by for the first time holding the conference there.

While several cities were considered it was decided Los Angeles and its rail renaissance was the ideal subject.

Enthusiastically I readily agreed to be on the planning committee and use the contacts and knowledge I have accumulated during 20+ years as a community activist on public transit issues in Southern California to help make the event a reality. The other members of the committee are Richard Rudolph, Andrew Albert and David Peter Alan. Key assistance in securing venues has been provided by the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) and Move LA.

The pre-conference welcoming reception will be held in the evening on Thursday March 26, in the Edison Room at 634 South Spring Street (1st floor) in downtown Los Angeles. The conference will be the following day Friday March 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the offices of SCAG in downtown Los Angeles, 818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor (adjacent to the 7th/Metro Metrorail station).

Featured speakers include Denny Zane, Executive Director of Move LA, Arthur Leahy, CEO of L.A. Metro, and Mark Murphy, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Amtrak Long Distance Services. Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, will give the keynote speech.

Panel topics include large and small rail construction projects (regional connector, Purple Line extension, Metrolink extension to Perris, downtown L.A. streetcar and California high speed rail), transit oriented development, best practices for more effective advocacy and the effort to preserve the current routing of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief.

More details about the panelists can be found on the RUN website conference page.

On Saturday March 28 there will be an optional inspection tour of rail in Los Angeles including a behind-the-scenes tour of Union Station and of Metro’s Rail Operations Center (which even I have never visited before).

The early registration fee of $75 has been extended until Friday, March 13, thereafter $85 and $90 at the door. This includes a continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon refreshment break, the pre-conference reception, the optional inspection tour on Saturday (excluding rail/transit fares) and all conference materials/handouts.

You can register online via this link.

In many ways this is the capstone of my decades of transit advocacy. It has been a daunting challenge to organize yet will illuminate an aspect of the transformation of Los Angeles that merits an in-depth examination and thus worth the effort to put together. Already several rail advocates from other parts of the country have registered to attend. It promises to be informative and exciting day. I am certainly looking forward to it (and just paid my own registration fee). See you there?

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