On Friday, April 30, Joe Biden visited Philadelphia during the week of his 100-days-in-office celebration to talk about the $80 billion allocated for railways in the proposed infrastructure plan. He visited 30th Street Station, the location where the first Amtrak arrived 50 years ago, in 1971.
A few footsteps away from Drexel’s campus, 30th Street was full of young people and students as well as many of Biden’s supporters. Even though the station looked like any other day with people waiting for their Amtrak or Septa train, the atmosphere felt different. Multiple PPD officers and Secret Service members surrounded the area without disclosing any information about the president’s whereabouts to civilians. In the minutes before the event started, multiple news anchors were present near the exits.
While people were waiting, a few young activists were talking in front of the station about President Biden’s responsibility to “Free the Vaccine” and make it accessible for the entire world. The activists spoke about the U.S.’s management of the vaccine, India’s COVID crisis and Biden’s promises to make vaccines accessible for “everyone, everywhere.”
President Biden, who acquired the nickname “Amtrak Joe,” is known to have used Amtrak often during his days as senator and vice president. He remained friends with multiple employees and has made it his trademark over the years.
“We have to build back better and today we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to position Amtrak in the rail and intercity rail as well, in general, to play a central role in our transformation and transportation economic future. To make investments that could have America get back on track, no pun intended,” President Biden said. “When I think about climate change, I think about jobs and rail and hopefully the expansion of rail to provide good union jobs.”
Biden talked about cutting greenhouse and gas emissions in half by 2030 and the relation between rail expansion and climate change. He told a story about using Amtrak to visit his daughter for her birthday in Wilmington, DE, so she could blow a candle and immediately go back to Washington, D.C.
The $80 billion discussed on Friday is part of the $2 trillion infrastructure proposal. The money for rail expansion is part of the $621 billion for transportation infrastructure.