Apgar, Glacier Nat. Park, MT, photo by C. Hamilton
Apgar, Glacier Nat. Park, MT, photo by C. Hamilton

Become an AANW Sponsor

Spreading the Word on Opportunities for Improved Transportation

Download this 2023 Trek and Summit Support Request.

There are unprecedented funds available for transportation improvements under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Many communities are unfamiliar with these opportunities. All Aboard Northwest (AANW) 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.

All Aboard Northwest is conducting community outreach through our “Train Trek” events and the 2023 Greater Northwest Rail Passenger Summit. We invite you to sponsor these efforts.

About 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. AANW is the regional rail advocacy organization that was created as an outgrowth of the informal working group as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit in 2022. Our tax ID number is 87-4397946.

AANW's vision is for seamless multimodal transportation connectivity for the GNW 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.

Working Toward Achieving Our Vision

BIL funding in states 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.

National organizations such as the Federal Railroad Administration, Rail Passengers Association, and Transportation for America have limited outreach capacity outside the Washington, DC Beltway. Our region needs coordinated, on-the-ground community engagement that hits home and builds local awareness and support for these projects.

Therefore, AANW focuses 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.

Train Treks

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).

AANW 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.

In 2023, AANW is planning a Collegiate Train Trek that will visit university campuses, and an Upper Midwest Train Trek traveling in the Wisconsin and Minnesota region.

Purposes

The purposes of Train Treks are to:

History

2022 Train Trek

Over eighteen days in August 2022, All Aboard Northwest traveled through the Greater Northwest to gather support for restoring the Pioneer, the North Coast Hiawatha, and other passenger train services.

We completed the All Aboard Northwest 2022 Train Trek community outreach efforts in August, and they were quite successful. We traveled around the region to discuss 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 Train Trek

From August 12 - 21, 2021, Patrick and Charlie 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. Funding for this series was provided by All Aboard Washington (AAWA), with additional support provided by AAWA donors.

2021 Colorado-Wyoming-Montana Train Trek

Image: Example of a “Train Trek” route taken by founder Dan Bilka in August, 2021.

From August 12 - 21, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted a number of meetings across Wyoming, in the communities of Cheyenne, Wheatland, Douglas, Thermopolis, Greybull, Evanston, Rawlins, and Laramie, with stop-overs and information requests with Worland, Wyoming.

2021 South Dakota Train Trek

From June 28 - July 8, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted volunteer community outreach across South Dakota, in the communities of Salem, Mitchell, Plankinton, Chamberlain, Kennebec, Presho, Murdo, Kadoka, and Hot Springs.

2021 Wyoming - South Dakota Train Trek

From August 26 - 30, 2021, Dan Bilka conducted in-person outreach across Wyoming and South Dakota, in the communities of Sheridan, Gillette, Moorcroft, Sundance and Lusk, Wyoming and Spearfish and Sturgis, South Dakota.

Summits

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.

History

2022 Summit

AANW 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.

2021 Summit

As the centerpiece of the 2021 Train Treks, Dan Bilka, Patrick Carnahan, and Charlie Hamilton participated in the 30th Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit in Big Sky, Montana.

Charlie moderated PNWER’s first-ever Rail Forum; Patrick gave two presentations during the Forum alongside colleagues Dan Bilka, Elaine Clegg, David Strohmaier, Anna Zivarts, and Abe Zumwalt; 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.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Publicity

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

La Grande Observer: All Aboard Northwest stops in La Grande to advocate for passenger rail

La Grande Observer: All Aboard Northwest comes to La Grande to advocate for passenger rails

East Oregonian: All Aboard Northwest comes to Pendleton to advocate for passenger rails

Elkhorn Media Group: A Push for Passenger Rail in the Pacific Northwest

KSL News: Do Utah and the West need more passenger trains? These groups make the argument

Salt Lake City Weekly: All Aboard

Wyoming News: Transforming a community: Guest speakers share benefits of passenger rail service

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

AAWA’s Leadership

Daniel Bilka — AANW President, Design & Local Engagement

Dan is a board member with the Colorado Passenger Rail Association and the Rail Passengers Association. He holds his master’s in architecture from South Dakota State University and is working on architectural licensure. Dan was in the pilot class of the Department of Architecture, gaining first-hand experience in establishing new programs, what is required to succeed, and how to react as directives suddenly change. He has been involved with rail advocacy and public discourse since 2013. He has been involved in multi-million dollar projects from schematic design through construction administration and close-out.

Patrick Carnahan — AANW Secretary, Writing & Policy Development

Patrick is co-Executive Director of AAWA and a Transportation Safety & Security Specialist with Sound Transit. He is an experienced nonprofit administrator and writer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey. Patrick has a strong background in advocacy for economically and environmentally sustainable transportation solutions with a focus on passenger rail. He has spent a significant amount of time abroad and is inspired to apply creative solutions to help solve America’s transportation and land use problems. His writing has been published in the American Public Transportation Association’s Speedlines newsletter.

Charles Hamilton, Ph. D. — AANW Vice-President & Treasurer, Communications

Charlie is co-Executive Director of All Aboard Washington (AAWA), which promotes safe, reliable, frequent, competitive, and convenient passenger rail services that improve the equity, economy, and environment for all Washingtonians. Charlie is also the founder and co-owner of CHCS Consulting, which provides research, organizational development, publicity, marketing, and website services to a diverse national client base of businesses and nonprofit organizations. He holds a Ph. D. in communication from the University of Maryland, and has a certificate in organizational development and training from Georgetown University. He relies on public transportation because his disability precludes him from driving.

With your help, we can continue our work toward making a better rail network in the Greater Northwest happen! All Aboard Northwest is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization. Thank you for your support!

Attachment A: IRS Determination Letter