Within the January/February 2010 issue of Arrive magazine, then-Sen. and now President Joe Biden described how his daily Amtrak commute made things possible in his life that otherwise wouldn’t be.
“I began making the 110-mile commute shortly after I was sworn in as a Senator. It was the only way that I could have been a Senator at all. I had to be able to get home to spend evenings with my two sons after we lost their mother and sister in an auto accident a month earlier,” he said. “Since then, on those many trips down to Washington, I got into a routine. From Wilmington to Baltimore, I’d read the papers and make phone calls. At Baltimore, I’d start preparing for that day’s hearings, amending my opening statement or going through the list of witnesses. And by the time I arrived in D.C., I’d be ready to jump right in.
“Getting home was sometimes a sprint, too. One year, on my birthday, my daughter had planned a party for me. She really wanted to give me a gift and blow out candles. Senator Bob Dole was the Majority Leader at the time, and we were voting that night. I told him that I really had to be home for my daughter, which meant that I needed to catch the 5:54 p.m. train. Senator Dole backed up the votes until 9 p.m. I boarded the train and, in Wilmington, my daughter was standing there on the middle platform. She and my wife sang “Happy Birthday,” I blew out the candle, took a piece of cake, opened her gift, gave her a kiss, and caught the 7:23 p.m. going south — and managed to be there for the 9 p.m. vote.
“Amtrak doesn’t just carry us from one place to another — it makes things possible that otherwise wouldn’t be,” Biden continued in the article. “For 36 years, I was able to make most of those birthday parties, to get home to read bedtime stories, to cheer for my children at their soccer games. Simply put, Amtrak gave me — and countless other Americans — more time with my family. That’s worth immeasurably more to me than the fare printed on the ticket.”
Please tell your state and congressional representatives to include funding for the Twin Ports-to-Twin Cities Northern Lights Express rail service in state and federal infrastructure bills. That funding will make economic and social opportunities — and more family time possible that otherwise wouldn’t be — for hundreds of thousands of Minnesota and Wisconsin citizens who live and/or work in the numerous communities along the tracks of our proposed Northern Lights Express line.
James Patrick Buchanan of Duluth is a lifelong passenger-train supporter and advocate.