Rare are the days when I, as a blogger, venture into the world of partisan politics. Those grounds are covered by people with more time for blogger than I have, and I like to keep my focus on news and views from the subway. Sure, most regular readers have probably picked up my liberal leanings, but in New York, we operate in our own political world.
So pardon my intrusion while I look across the country to Denver where, in a few days, a train man will accept the Democratic Party’s nomination for vice president. On Wednesday night, Sen. Joe Biden from the great state of Delaware will issue that evening’s speech, and while his love of and reliance on commuter trains may not make it into his introductory remarks this week, it’s sure to come up between now and Election Day.
Biden, you see, is a bona fide commuter like the rest of us — or almost like the rest of us. The Senator travels back and forth from Washington, DC to Wilmington, Delaware, every day during the Senate sessions. While some people may opt to make that round trip via a chauffeured car, Senator Biden relies on Amtrak for his round trips. His monthly ticket costs over $1000, quite a bit more than our Unlimited Ride Metrocards with or without another fare hike, but it’s still rail travel.
So then as rail fans and transportation-minded writers everywhere are excited about Biden’s potential rail advocacy, we can play the “What If?” game for New York. What if Biden, via the Obama ticket, earns his spot in the next presidential administration? What sort of transportation gains can we expect?
Well, on the surface, the gains will be tough to achieve. As with any politically-oriented goal, Congress will have to approve an effort by Vice President Biden to increase funding for, say, Amtrak or Amtrak-oriented development. But perhaps Biden would begin to push for more money for the beleaguered national rail company. Perhaps, we’ll see funds heading our way for the ever-planned Moynihan Station. Perhaps other rail-oriented efforts will earn more respect — and funds — from the federal government.
In the end, it is of course far too early to speculate on the transit advances that should come out of Washington, DC, when the next administration takes over. But any rail fan should think long and hard about supporting the Obama-Biden ticket. It is, after all, the one with the rail-friendly fellow running for Vice President.