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Rail News Home Passenger Rail

May 2015

Rail News: Passenger Rail

From the editor: Transit rail and millennials, and J. Reilly McCarren


— by Pat Foran, editor

Millennials — the 18-to-34 crowd — are less inclined than other generations to drive cars; they prefer to take trains and buses, ride bikes and walk, studies say. For transit-rail strategists, keeping the interests of these potential riders in mind is crucial, and they're beginning to market services accordingly, as Senior Associate Editor Julie Sneider reports in this month's cover story.

Some of what the under-35 crowd wants isn't generationally exclusive. Plenty of people who wear different demographic labels would say they want access to quality transportation, app stuff and Wi-Fi, depending on how much it'd cost. The difference may be that for millennials, some of what they want is part and parcel of who they are: They grew up and live online. But agency execs shouldn't assume that millennials can't get what they want elsewhere — that they won't choose, for example, fuel-efficient, "smart" cars over public transportation.

"To attract and keep these [millennial] riders, it's really about patron services," as David Goldberg, communications director for Transportation for America and vice president of strategy for Smart Growth America, told Sneider. "It's thinking in a more agile way about the change that's underfoot and the incredible energy that could support the growth for transit."

Yep. Agility in thinking, which includes a willingness to listen and an ability to check assumptions at the door, is requisite for strategic thinkers representing every link in the transport chain.

In memoriam: J. Reilly McCarren

We were saddened to learn that J. Reilly McCarren, majority owner and chairman of the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad Co., died April 26 at his Kenilworth, Ill., home after a battle with cancer. He was 58.

Previously, McCarren served as president of the Wisconsin Central Railroad Ltd. from 1996 to 2001, when it was acquired by CN. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Central, he founded the Gateway Western Railway, which in 1996 was sold to Kansas City Southern. He also served as chairman of Operation Lifesaver Inc. from 2007 to 2012.

I met Reilly during his Wisconsin Central days. He was, always, these things: smart, engaging, interested in the world. That made him a go-to-guy candidate if ever we were seeking context for big-picture issues. It also made him an interesting person to talk with, whatever the topic.

"He cared about what those around him were thinking and was always eager to think along with them," as American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) officials put it. "Even in the difficult moments of his illness he maintained a grace and dignity that was admired by all."

What ASLRRA said. He'll be missed.


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