All Aboard Amtrak or, Your Tax Dollars at Work (Joe Biden Edition)


Given the weather-delayed, whimpering start of the Republican National Convention in Minnesota and the fact that I'm working on Labor Day (not a political statement, simply a necessity due to various factors, including the failure of organized labor to secure all workers [read: me] less work and higher wages), I've just done a back of the envelope calculation of the cost of Democratic Vice Presidential Candidate Sen. Joe Biden's unbridled Amtrak love.

Working-classer Biden, when not washing his hands and face in Lava soap and packing his lunchbucket with Spam and Velveeta sandwiches made with Ann Page-brand white bread, has talked about taking Amtrak home everyday from Washington, D.C. to Wilmington, Delaware.

Let's start off by assuming Biden is in DC about 200 days a year; allowing for two weeks off, there's about 250 work days in a given year. So the senator won't be in DC every workday for all sorts of reasons. We can monkey with all these figures, but 200 seems like a decent figure.

If Biden takes the regular regional service, a roundtrip ticket will cost between $84 and $118, depending on what time of day he leaves and arrives. So the low-end estimate would be he spends $16,800 a year on Amtrak. The high-end estimate is $23,600. Either way, he's looking at about three hours a day on the train.

If Biden takes the much faster, more expensive Acela service, he's looking at a range of $222 and $250 per trip, with a low-end estimate of $44,400 and $50,000 a year in ticket costs. The Acela takes about an hour and 10 minutes to get there from here, so he'd be looking at a daily train time of two hours and 20 minutes.

This is a calculation tailor made for a classic slow news day. I don't know the significance, if any, of the above calculations, but it does seem like a lot of money and time to be spending on travel (yes, yes, Biden saves money by not having a residence in D.C.).

All aboard the Amtrak website here.

reason's detailed and even-handed coverage of the ongoing money pit that is Amtrak, dominated by pieces with titles such as "Amtrak, You Suck," "Kill Amtrak Now!," "Runaway Train," and "Railroading Congress," is online here.