Yesterday’s Washington Post ran a brief piece on the everyday life of Joe Biden. I knew, but had forgotten, that he commutes home to Delaware every day on Amtrak. So it’s nice to imagine that with an Obama/Biden Administration, there would actually be someone in a position of power who truly understands and appreciates the importance of mass transportation.
“A seventy-five-minute trip passes really quickly when you’re talking with Joe,” says Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.), who commutes back and forth daily from Haddon Heights and often sits with the garrulous senior senator from Delaware. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), who calls Biden “one of my very best friends,” says much of their friendship was forged through those long Amtrak rides.
“Some mornings he would ride down on the train and literally buy the entire car and conductors coffee,” says Claire DeMatteis, who worked for Biden for 10 years and sometimes rode the train with him. He’d get up and say, ” ‘Anybody want coffee?’ And anybody who wanted got coffee.”
He talks to passengers. He talks to the folks who take his tickets. He talks policy and family and everything in between. If he’s waiting for a train, he talks to the folks at the ticket counter and to the shoeshine guy and the redcap guy and to Johnson, the newsstand cashier — which is why, when Johnson found out Joe was joining Obama’s ticket, she called her mother to brag about “my friend.” ….
Most often in recent years, Biden has taken the No. 2103, which leaves Wilmington at 7:35 a.m. and pulls into Union Station — barring delays — at 8:55 a.m. (Amtrak has become a recurring character in the hearings Biden participates in. “Gentlemen, I apologize,” he told a Judiciary Committee hearing in 1996 when he showed up late. “One of those things that I keep telling my colleagues: If they fully funded Amtrak, I would not be late. [Pause.] And some suggest that’s why they don’t fully fund Amtrak.”)
We could do a lot worse.