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Here's a not-so-succinct, email I sent to our local representatives concerning the possible elimination of all weekend service of the Rail Runner, which runs between Santa Fe and the city of Belen, NM, just south of Albuquerque:

Dear *****,

Though all of you already know the status of the national high speed rail initiative here in the US, our mega-region (Albubuerque to Denver, with extensions south to El Paso, north to Montana, east to St. Louis and west to Phoenix) needs to continue to get ready for the future of HSR.

And despite local budgetary problems, we know the need for rail service at all levels is a necessity. It's the everyman transportation. Affordable, traffic-congestion mitigating, convenient, environmentally friendly, and comprehensive.

Cutting weekend service for the Rail Runner takes us backwards. The general public gets out of the habit of using it for more than commuting. Those susceptible to distracted driving are back on the road. Our metropolitan region needs to get ready for the future of a national HSR route, which at this point has been moved back to a proposed route for 2050. Our metro region is growing rapidly. Traffic congestion will only get worse. Oil sources continue to lessen.

By keeping existing Rail Runner service intact and expanding it in the future along with more localized rail service, we will be creating the foundation, for which the national HSR can connect seamlessly cities and regions. National HSR is the icing on the cake. It needs the cake of a strong city, metro and regional rail infrastructure to be most affective.

Please check out this article about national HSR in Wired magazine's February issue at http://www.wired.com/magazine/2010/01/ff_fasttrack/. If mainstream media is writing about national rail transportation, it's definitely time we take the issue seriously. It's not a passing fad. Diminishing oil reserves guarantee that.

Please feel free to pass along this email and article link.

Thank you very much for listening.


Nancy JonesFrancis


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 27th, 2010 01:30 pm (UTC)
Just want to thank you for sharing your letters to local officials that you have posted recently. They strike me as well thought out and likely to be quite effective. I'm hoping the voice you have developed is contagious and infects me. I tend to become motivated to express an opinion when frustrated or angry, and, in contrast to your voice which invites support for your perceptions, I'm more likely to just evoke defensive posturing. If you have in mind some rules of thumb you use when writing such letters, please share. I am slowly learning from what you share and I'm hungry to learn more. You have developed an empathetic, useful and good voice that is sorely needed in our public discourse now. We'd all be much further along our social journey if the qualities of your voice were part of our culture of discourse.
Jan. 28th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
Wow! This is quite a compliment. Thank you. :)

Ironically, I sent this email out the day before our state legislators made a decision to keep weekend rail service! They were given a deadline of Feb. 1 to make their decision, so their decision was quite a surprise. It didn't make any impact on their decision!

I'm not sure how I came about "creating" my own voice. Maybe working for a newspaper for 25 years had something to do with this, though I spent most of my time working with visual journalism rather than written journalism.

Or it could be that I really care about rail transportation in all its forms, and am learning as much as possible about it.

Gosh, I don't claim to be an expert at argument or writing, but some things I try to do:

* Try to be true to myself.
* Try to keep the message simple (not an easy thing for me ... because I love to ramble).
* Try to focus on one point and show how different aspects of the issue are effected by it. Find that point of passion and hone in on it.
* Have an editor or someone I trust read it to see if it makes sense and if the message is clear. Thank goodness my husband is willing to listen and/or read what I write. We attempt to be each others editors. If possible, I'd love to have a couple of editors read my stuff before I send it out. Typos, left out words, etc., can be irritating to discover after the send button has been hit.
* If possible, I try to put down the piece for several hours or a day, then go back to it. That's not always possible, but it definitely helps.

Does that seem to make sense?

See you around. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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