Biden not to blame for train delay

April 20, 2011

Sometimes, politicians deserve our ire. But other times, they just get a bad rap. This time, in the case of Vice President Biden, it’s the latter.

The vice president is being blamed by some in the Twitterverse for causing as many as 250 MARC commuters to miss their evening trains home Tuesday night. The only problem? Biden wasn’t even in the District.

About 4:20 p.m., just as the commute was ramping up, officials at Union Station received a report that a VIP was preparing to board an Amtrak train. As is protocol in such situations, all other boarding was halted to allow said VIP, complete with police escort, to board the train. But instead of allowing delayed passengers to board once the VIP situation was cleared, two MARC trains left the station without them.

Several commuters at the station immediately blamed Biden.

“@joebiden hey bro stop preventing us from going home . . . #unionstation is stopping passengers from getting home because of u . . . #marcfail,” tweeted @superridiculous, an IT contractor from Pennsylvania.

Why so quick to suspect the vice president? Because it’s happened before.

“It’s kind of an unstated fact that if there’s a VIP delay, it’s got to be Biden,” said Bill Ballantyne, a MARC regular.

Biden famously rode Amtrak between Washington and Delaware nearly every day while in the Senate, right up until his nomination as Barack Obama’s running mate. He has also ridden it a few times as vice president — which has sometimes inconvenienced other riders.

The Twitter reports were picked up by the Inside Charm City blog, which has detailed previous Biden-related delays. But the blog was quick to note that Tuesday’s problems were not Biden-related.

“It was a classic case of miscommunication,” MTA spokesman Terry Owens said. “We had a VIP move at Union Station yesterday afternoon and, as is protocol, all movement stops. When that situation was clear, the trains were allowed to leave, stranding some of our passengers. We apologize.”

A spokeswoman for the vice president’s office said Biden was nowhere near Union Station on Tuesday. For a good part of the day, Biden was in Cleveland at an event for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).

“He wasn’t even in the District,” Press Secretary Elizabeth Alexander wrote in an e-mail. “He went from Ohio [Tuesday] back to Delaware.”

No word, however, on whether he returned to the District via train.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.
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