Thursday, April 06, 2006

It's Been a Year! Already!!

It has flown by! It dawned on me today that Rip Track has been part of the blog scene now for a few days over a year. By and large, it has been a good year, and I have to say that I have learned alot. Some things I expected never happened. Some things happened that surprised me.

I am still amazed at how many blogs about Amtrak are written from the Railfan's point of view. Don't get me wrong, I love riding passenger trains, and have done strange things like going to Los Angeles and intentionally avoided renting a car, just to see how things would go (they went VERY well, by the way!). But during the firing of David Gunn, and subsequent battles in our US Congress, very little of consequence seems to be written about the very events that will profoundly impact the scores of "Train Trip Travelogs" that appear. Somehow, word has to get to the appropriating politicians that there is a real economic benefit in putting passengers on rails. Check the web for stories about recent rides on the California Zephyr versus stories about what the House and Senate are now doing with Amtrak Appropriations and you will see what I mean. We have to be louder and more coordinated.

I am disappointed that more AREMA Members have not come forward and contributed. There are real concerns with AREMA among members who have the nerve to discuss their specific concerns in confidence. I truly believe that a web vehicle for discussion of these concerns is extremely valid, and thought it might happen at Rip Track. So far, no go. I do acknowledge that part of the problem is that search engines may not refer someone looking for "AREMA" to Rip Track. I am hoping that word of mouth will fill that void, and that Rip Track can become the "vehicle" that I had envisioned.

On the other hand, I have been very encouraged by comments received from Contractors and Suppliers, at least that is what I infer from the comments I read. Many EXTREMELY thoughtful observations and conclusions have appeared here. That is good news! Some of these comments appeared during the award of the "Rippers" last summer, for Best and Worst Agencies. Those comments will be combined with my personal observations and considered during this year's "Ripper Awards".

I have also been encouraged by Dan Zukowski, The Country Pundit, Passenger Rail, Live From the Third Rail, and others. I have been saddened by a few blogs which have ceased publication. Thanks to all of you.

So, I'm looking forward to another year! I hope that Amtrak will be fully funded, that Transit Agencies across the country will find answers to why they pay more money for the same material, and that Contractors will be able to bid Rail and Transit jobs without adding contingencies for what is commonly known as the "Insert Specific Agency Here Factor". I hope that AREMA Members finally find this blog. And, I hope that Rip Track is part of this improvement process!

Thanks for your reading, for your input, and for your support over the past year.


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