Following President Biden’s infrastructure speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Amtrak unveiled their new ‘Connects US’ map showing train access across the nation. Passengers were not impressed and blasted the train service.
Biden touted his $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan in his speech but the name is looking like it is a misnomer. It allegedly has very little to do with physical infrastructure and a lot to do with climate change, the Green New Deal, and social justice projects.
Amtrak wants a piece of the infrastructure funding pie. President Biden is famously known as “Amtrak Joe” and the company is seeking to capitalize on that fact. Amtrak wants Congress to fund railways that will seek to transport 52 million passengers a year by 2035 across the nation. Their new map shows routes to 30 major U.S. cities laid out for the next 15 years. Some of the routes are exceedingly long.
The map is billed as “the beginning of a very long conversation, but it’s very hopeful,” noted Marc Magliari, who is a spokesperson for Amtrak Government Affairs and Corporate Communications. “This is an aspirational map, not prescriptive,” he explained. “There are other ideas that others will have.”
(Video Credit: NewsChannel 5)
“President Biden’s infrastructure plan is what this nation has been waiting for,” Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn said in a statement. He then commented, “Amtrak must rebuild and improve the Northeast Corridor, our National Network and expand our service to more of America.” Biden’s plan purportedly includes $621 billion for transportation infrastructure. $80 billion of that amount is designated for passenger and freight rail.
“Amtrak has a bold vision to bring energy-efficient, world-class intercity rail service to up to 160 new communities across the nation, as we also invest in our fleet and stations across the U.S.,” Flynn proclaimed. “With this federal investment, Amtrak will create jobs and improve equity across cities, regions, and the entire country – and we are ready to deliver.”
Biden reportedly took Amtrak every day for 36 years back and forth from D.C. to his home in Wilmington, DE to be with his sons. It’s about a 90-minute trip. The Wilmington Amtrak station was even named after him in 2011. The president purchased an Amtrak ticket to go home after he announced that he was running for the presidency. All of that aside, there is no guarantee that Biden will grant Amtrak’s wish.
It’s an illustration of how political campaigns in America have changed that a few hours after launching his Presidential campaign online, Joe Biden is not at a huge launch party but sitting quietly on a train to New York with just a handful of aides pic.twitter.com/yMHFWsKoA3
— Paul Danahar (@pdanahar) April 25, 2019
At the time, Biden said, “The truth is, I don’t deserve this unless you reward longevity.” He continued, “Everything, good or bad in my career, the first people I encountered were getting on the train. They were the first ones there for me. I mean, literally. They would say, ‘Joe, it’s going to be OK.'”
President Biden helped facilitate a $2 billion loan in 2016 to assist Amtrak with updating trains and stations. It seems natural that Amtrak would feel that Biden would once again help them out now that he’s in power.
In Biden’s $2.5 trillion infrastructure bill, only $115 billion in spending to "modernize the bridges, highways, roads, and main streets” $25 billion on airports, and $17 billion on inland waterways, coastal ports, land ports of entry, and ferries
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) March 31, 2021
Trains.com reports on what Amtrak is planning:
The outline claims there would be “up to 160 more communities served; multiple daily trips in 15 more states; up to 30+ potential new routes; and up to 20+ existing routes with more trips.” Details are not provided because all those proposed additions would require a buy-in by states, or groups of states, to make a long-term commitment to fund operations.
The map shows corridor extensions to Las Vegas, Nev., from California, and between Dallas and Houston, Texas — routes where private developers are nearing the construction phase for high-speed projects. It does not indicate service on Florida’s Miami-Orlando Brightline route (while showing the existing Amtrak long-distance route between those cities), or acknowledge the effort in Montana to revive service on the North Coast Hiawatha’s former route. The map does show that the Sunset Limited’s route east of Mobile, Ala., to Jacksonville, Fla., is still “suspended.”
Flynn concluded his pitch to net Amtrak millions of dollars in funding: “America needs a rail network that offers frequent, reliable, sustainable, and equitable train service. Now is our time; let’s make rail the solution.”
Twitter did not share Amtrak’s enthusiasm over the pending infrastructure investment and pointed out how lame their system is compared to Europe’s:
Chicago to New Orleans, a 2.5 hour flight, takes 19 hours on Amtrak. https://t.co/H9I24ZcLkB
— Kevin 👐 Glass (@KevinWGlass) March 31, 2021
Ive never understood why this country doesnt have decent and efficient rail service. Amtrak is a joke. Heavily subsidized and yet long awkward routes and very expensive. Id much rather a train than fly or drive but its not an option in this country.
— John M (@ohholy1) April 1, 2021
Vegas to Phoenix would have been nice, but then again you can’t have everything you want.
— Alex Diaz (@AlexODiazNV) March 31, 2021
— Beans 420 (@Beans___420) March 31, 2021
Amtrak? Like 19th century technology? Why would be invest in rail when we can do sooooo much better?
— Paul Borneo (@borneo_paul) March 31, 2021
Similar to building the Erie Canal right before the railroads, investing in railroads in the 21st century is to invest in a dying technology. pic.twitter.com/vqSpP5LV5I
— Paul Borneo (@borneo_paul) March 31, 2021
Others asked why Europe is miles ahead of us when it comes to transportation.
Highspeed railroads in Europe … spot the difference pic.twitter.com/TZY9JyWJHT
— ❄️Andrea Gaus (@lionqueen1952) April 1, 2021