Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Biden endorses a bright future for Amtrak

Support for Amtrak must be strong--not because it is a cherished American institution, which it is--but because it is a powerful and indispensable way to carry us all into a leaner, cleaner, greener 21st century.

That's the main thrust of a recent article penned by Vice President Joe Biden for the tenth anniversary of the Amtrak magazine "Arrive." The piece also recently ran in the Huffington Post.

You can find it here and here.

I highlight this article, not as a political endorsement of Vice President Biden, but because I (and I expect many of my fellow MARC riders) share some of his sentiments and habits that he developed during the 7,000-plus trips he took between D.C. and Wilmington on Amtrak during his Senate career.

For example Biden talks about the family-like bond he had with conductor Gregg Weaver, who introduced the Vice President elect before he joined Obama for the Whistle Stop tour to the capitol. I share a similar relationship with a MARC Penn Line conductor named Mike who faithfully checks my monthly every morning and chides me on the days when I'm too lazy to bike to the station.

I've also learned from fellow commuters like Rafi Guroian that we all have our particular routines that help get us through the daily slog. For Rafi it's a quest to watch every single episode of the 'Star Trek' series. For me it's a combination of sleeping, playing BrickBreaker on my BlackBerry, and reading the news. Biden shares his routine in the article: reading the news, making phone calls, preparing for a hearing and editing opening statements.

I also wanted to give the piece a shout out because Biden highlights train history in our very own backyard:

In 1830, the first steam-engine locomotive, the Tom Thumb, graced America's railways. Its first run was a rickety 13-mile trek from Baltimore to Ellicott Mills, Md., but it became much more than that.

Finally I want to go back to a post I wrote this October that generated some controversy in the blogosphere (what that sphere is best at generating btw). I still find it pretty cool that one of the highest leaders in the land continues to take semi-public transportation instead of his own custom train a la Kim Jong Il (not trying to explicitly compare the two of course, but KJI luxury train travel is just too outrageous not to link to). Seems like the trend is catching on across the pond as well. Check out Queen Elizabeth's recent holiday trip aboard a- wait for it - commuter train!

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