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If you’d like to travel on the Ohio rails with me to Chicago, I’m buying.

When I took my first Amtrak trip in September of 2008 I would have never imagined that I’d be commuting on Amtrak just two years later.   Now, in just a little over two-years time I’ve earned enough points to get a bedroom car for my winter trip through the Rockies to Salt Lake City.

In addition to my regular commutes to and from Chicago/Toledo I’ve ventured to both Washington DC and Minneapolis via Amtrak.  Allow me to add that the route to DC through the Allegheny mountains is simply spectacular.

Over the past couple of years my friends and colleagues have heard me talk about my train trips and some of them started asking questions about how and when one books and travels on Amtrak.  Some of them have taken the time to book trips.

A colleague and his wife booked a sleeper car to Chicago for a long weekend.  Since they were traveling with their young daughter, they found sleeper car accommodations to be perfect for the three of them.  Another couple booked a long weekend in Chicago, but spent the night in Toledo first, thus contributing a little something to Toledo’s economy.  Yet another friend booked a trip from Portland to Seattle while she was on the West Coast.

All of them have eagerly told me how excited they were to be taking their first train rides and equally excited to tell me how much they enjoyed their trips once they returned.

“It’s so convenient.”
“The scenery was beautiful and it was so relaxing.”
“My wife just loved the idea.”
“My eight year old just asked about going for a train ride and I’m thinking about taking the entire family out for the day.”
“It’s so much cheaper than flying.”

This got me thinking more about just how many Ohioans ride the existing Amtrak routes that pass through Ohio.   Toledo has the most boardings of any Ohio train station, and the two other major stops in Ohio are Cleveland and Cincinnati.  However, whether I’m traveling east or west, scores of Ohioans board and disembark at various other stations which include Elyria, Sandusky, and Bryan.

Mind you, Amtrak schedules through Ohio are not that convenient.  The trains travel through the night delivering passengers to Chicago by eleven o’clock in the morning (at the latest), to DC by mid afternoon and to New York and Boston my early evening.  Still, Ohioans make a choice to travel via Amtrak.  Imagine how many more might choose Amtrak if they were to build their schedule around Ohio cities as destinations.

This led me to think that maybe one of the reasons that Ohio’s new governor Mr. John Kasich returned the $400 million in rail funds to the Federal Government is because he’s never traveled through Ohio on a train.  Maybe he thinks that no one rides regular-speed trains because he himself has never thought to try it.

My friends who have chosen to travel on the train absolutely love it, and maybe if John were to jump aboard, he’d like it too.  Maybe he’d like it enough to find another way to fund the expansion of rail through Ohio and create jobs by doing so.  And if that’s the case, I’d like to personally offer to buy John Kasich a round-trip Amtrak ticket to Chicago.

Since I travel out of Toledo often, he’s certainly welcome to ride up to the station with me.  He doesn’t even have to go in half’sies with me on the gas.  The trip is on me.

I’ve thought about the political implications of paying for Ohio’s governor’s train ticket.  Since I didn’t vote for him I don’t think there would be any ramifications for either of us.  And since I won’t be voting for him in the future, it’s not like I’m asking for any type of political favor in return.   But hey, just because I don’t necessarily want to hang out with John Kasich all the time, it doesn’t mean that we can’t be casual friends.  Hell, I’ve paid for other friends to travel with me, so why not John Kasich.

So John, if you’re reading this the invitation is on the table.  If you’d like to travel on the Ohio rails with me to Chicago, I’m buying.  I’ll even pay for breakfast in the dining car.  Have your people get in touch with my people and we’ll coordinate calendars.

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