President Joe Biden is taking planes, automobiles – but not trains – to Philadelphia to mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary on Friday.
Biden and first lady Jill Biden were captured leaving the White House Friday afternoon. Because of high winds they took a motorcade to Joint Base Andrews where they’re taking Air Force One to the Pennsylvania city.
Biden is making the trek to sell his American Jobs Plan infrastructure bill and his American Families Plan – and because the quasi-public railroad service is part of his political brand of ‘Amtrak Joe,’ the Delaware senator who commuted to Washington daily so he could kiss his kids goodnight.
He wanted to ride Amtrak into D.C. before his inauguration, but the plans were scrapped for security reasons as the swearing-in happened just weeks after the Capitol riot.
President Joe Biden (right) will take planes, automobiles – but not trains – to Philadelphia Friday to mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary. Here he leaves the White House with first lady Jill Biden (center)
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden board Air Force One on a windy Friday. They’re traveling to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to mark Amtrak’s 50th birthday
Then Vice President-elect Joe Biden (left) and President-elect Barack Obama (right) wave to crowds on their Whistle Stop Train Tour from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. on January 17, 2009 – a trip they took in advance of inauguration
Then Democratic nominee Joe Biden (left) and wife Jill Biden (right) took Amtrak through parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania in late September as he campaigned for the presidency
Democratic nominee Joe Biden gets onboard an Amtrak train in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September as he campaigned to win the White House over President Donald Trump
That ride would have been an homage to the pre-inauguration train trip he took on January 17, 2009 with President-elect Barack Obama, with the Obamas picking up the Bidens in Wilmington, Delaware, where the Amtrak station is named after Joe Biden.
His most recent Amtrak trip came this fall, when as the Democratic nominee he took the train line through portions of Ohio and Pennsylvania after the first presidential debate.
On Friday, Biden will be introduced by a conductor who worked the route the president traveled when he was a regular passenger, according to the Associated Press.
‘He knew just about everybody that worked in the station and the conductors and other people and Amtrak folks who were on the train for those many, many years that he rode the rail,’ Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn told the AP. ‘He regularly engaged with them and knew quite a bit about them, and I think that’s why he was anxious or willing to be part of our 50th anniversary.’
Amtrak released a map that shows new service and enhanced service that would be possible if the $80 billion in Amtrak funds that are part of President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan get approved by Congress
The next generation of Amtrak’s high-speed train, the Acela, will be on display during the event. Those new trains will go into service next year.
Biden’s infrastructure proposal gives $80 billion to Amtrak.
The money would be used for repairs, to improve service along the highly trafficked Northeast Corridor and to expand service elsewhere.
The price tag for all transportation infrastructure stands at $621 billion, but Biden has signaled he’s more willing to work across the aisle on this bill than the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill he signed into law in March.
A Republican counteroffer for Amtrak funds stands at $20 billion.
Even with $80 billion Amtrak isn’t expected to make much progress enhancing high-speed rail in the U.S., which is currently limited to the Acela trains traveling the Northeast Corridor.
The service did say with the funds Amtrak could add 30 new routs and add trains to 20 existing routes by 2035.
New service could begin in places like Scranton, Pennsylvania, where Biden was born, the AP said.
Additionally routes could be added to Nashville, Tennessee, Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, as well as Houston, Dallas and Austin, Texas if green-lit by Congress.
Amtrak started service on May 1, 1971.
Biden started frequently riding the rails after being elected to the U.S. Senate in November 1972.
A month later his wife and baby daughter were killed in an automobile accident.
Biden decided to keep his Senate seat, but to commute to and from Washington so he could be there for sons Beau and Hunter.