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Print editions of the Bulletin, Headlights and trip notices sent via mail.
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The board of directors of the Electric Railroaders’ Association, Inc. would like to express our sincere gratitude for your loyal support of the ERA over the years. In 2020, we greatly expanded access to our monthly meetings to viewers and presenters anywhere in the world by starting live, online Zoom presentations and by posting the recordings of these events to our website and YouTube.
Under the leadership of Editor-in-Chief Jeff Erlitz, The Bulletin continues to improve and the e-mail edition is now full-color. We have also started an ambitious project to scan and post all pre-digital issues of The Bulletin, Electric Railroads and Headlights to the ERA website.
This new online content advances our founding principles of educating and informing the public about electric traction. These archives are truly a wonderful trove of information spanning decades that cannot be found anywhere else.
In addition to all these great benefits, we are publishing Eric Oszustowicz’s book, “The Elevated Railways of Brooklyn and the BMT Subway.” Barring any extraordinary circumstances, the first volume of this long-awaited multi-volume work is targeted for distribution to our paid-up members by the end of 2020. Volume 1 (left) will represent Headlights for 2019 and 2020, though at over 400 pages it is equivalent to five typical annual Headlights issues!
There are ultimately plans for three volumes, and each volume will be extensively illustrated with complete histories. Volume 1 covers the history of the BMT and its predecessors from 1864 to the 1940 takeover by the NYC Board of Transportation. Volume 2 will cover BMT post-1940 to 1969 and will include photographs of every former BMT elevated station in route order. Volume 3 will contain a plethora of high-quality color photographs from the 1950s and 1960s and a detailed roster for all equipment in existence from 1864 to 1969.
Unfortunately, coinciding with these advancements, the ERA is entering a period of unprecedented financial stress. The pandemic has paused our trip and convention programming, and this has eliminated the opportunity for us to earn revenue from these special events. However, that is not the primary source of our financial problems. Even after our deliberate cost cutting (described below) and a modest increase in our dues, we project that our expenses will exceed revenues by approximately $40,000 per year. At that rate, it will be difficult for the ERA to continue beyond the 2023 membership year.
Why is this happening? Our club is aging, and we have been losing 10 to 15 percent of our members each year for some time. But most importantly, new and younger members are not joining at the same rate to compensate for this loss. We currently have about 650 members supporting our broad variety of programs and publications. Any significant reduction in dues will make operating the organization even more financially challenging.
What are we doing to address this? From 2021 onward, the ERA will supplement meetings at the Roosevelt Hotel with our extremely popular Zoom presentations whenever possible. We will change The Bulletin to a bimonthly publication, and we will also reduce our physical file archives from three storerooms to one.
How can you help? First and foremost, please renew your membership, and select the e-mail option if you can. Over 60 percent of our members already opt for receiving The Bulletin this way. Even with a reduced publication schedule, printing and mailing The Bulletin will cost nearly $10,000 per year.
Second, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to the ERA. Any amount is welcome and can easily be added to your membership renewal payment (either online or by mail). The ERA is a 501c3 non-profit organization.
Finally, please remember the ERA by making a significant donation as part of your estate planning. We would have been in this situation several years ago had the late James Mattina, our long serving office manager, not generously donated $157,000 to our organization in his will. We have added an online Donation Form to the website to ease with this process.
Please take a moment now to complete the online 2021 Dues Renewal Form by January 31, 2021. We look forward to your continued support of the ERA’s long record of traction education and entertainment.