Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Interview: Rafi, your man on MRAC (Part 1)

Rafi Guroian loves trains. His Facebook profile picture (shown above) demonstrates the pure joy he often feels when riding the rails. His blog is dedicated to the subject and he works for Amtrak. He is also the chair of the MARC Riders Advisory Council (MRAC), an independent organization that acts as a liaison between commuters and the MTA.

Earlier this month I met Rafi at Union Station, where we sat down to talk about trains, particularly the MARC system. I’ll be posting sections of our interview over the next week on Stuck on MARC.

Rafi Guroian interview, Part I: Meet Rafi

Q: Let’s start off by talking about how you got involved in the advisory council. How long you’ve been with the council?
A: Well, some time ago, I guess about three years ago there was a plan to close four stations in the MARC system and there was a grassroots effort to prevent that closing and the end result of that effort was the council, in essence. There was a call for applications that went out and I just filled out an application and got a call and so I was one of the first members of the council.

Q: When did you take the controls as chair of MRAC?
A: I was just elected this last spring so I have another couple of years.

How long have you been riding MARC?
A: I’ve been riding MARC since- regularly since the fall of 2004- so it’s been awhile.

Q: Do you see yourself as passionate about public transportation?
A: Yeah. Although [laughs] within reason. I’ll take the train if I can. I’d much rather take the train than drive to Washington every day. Driving you get frustrated, you know, you can’t sit and read, you can’t sleep, you can’t watch DVDs. I find that I’m able to sustain the commute to Washington for a lot longer and now it’s going on five years. If I’d been driving, I probably wouldn’t have lasted two.

Q: What do you do on the train?
A: Usually I answer emails and play games on my iPhone.

What games do you play?
A: Right now pinball games but I’m an old adventure gamer from the 1990s, so I have a bunch of you know, 'Monkey Island' and stuff like that. They’ve got them on the iPhone now. So I do that. I’ve worked my way through I think every 'Star Trek' series except the original. I do a lot of Netflix. Netlix is the reason I’m able to get through the day sometimes.

...Check back later this week for more on Rafi and MRAC including his views on Gov. O'Malley's handling of the MTA, how to tell a Brunswick rider from a Penn commuter, and why he's optimistic that high speed rail expansion will benefit MARC.

*Interview conducted and edited by Julia Marsh for Stuck on MARC.

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