The sun lit the golden dome of the Massachusetts State House. There was a spangling of tiny red buds on the trees. A soft breeze was blowing. It was a glorious day, just two and a half weeks ago, and I’d spent the afternoon talking to legislators about the Housatonic Line bill.
As I drove west out of Boston, I made a hands-free call to my daughter in Washington DC, where there had already been an outbreak of COVID-19. I described the meetings, the progress we were making, and assured her that I hadn’t shaken any hands.
“Just elbow bumps,” I said, “Boston seemed pretty normal. People were shaking hands,” I said, “and kids were wandering around the State House. The only people who seemed worried were the guys at the lunch counter. They said it wasn’t as busy as usual.”
“Mom, the governor just declared a State of Emergency.”
While my colleague and I were in the State House with the chair of the joint transportation committee, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker had declared a State of Emergency in Massachusetts.
Fast forward. Everything on the calendar has been cancelled or moved online. Daughter has returned home and has set up her virtual law-school in a spare bedroom. Here’s what Amtrak and Penn Station looked like when she traveled north.
But this doesn’t mean we’ve stopped working. Our Massachusetts meetings and events are being rescheduled. And there’s lots going on in Washington DC.
I’m a council member of the Rail Passengers Association and on Tuesday, 31 March 2020, we’ll be participating in the virtual Rail Passengers Day on the Hill to fight for more and better passenger trains in the United States.
Click here to download a 2-page information handout about the Housatonic Line project. We want it to be included in the list of rail projects to be funded as part of the stimulus. It’s vital that East-West Rail is also included: there’s going to be considerable rethinking of the way we work, and more opportunity for hybrid working arrangements, because of our COVID-19 experience. And you can read here about the Rail Passengers Association Coronavirus Response, which covers a wide range of nation issues and initiatives.
Here’s a particularly impressive COVID-19 resource page put together by Senator Eric Lesser’s staff. It’s really comprehensive: lots for individuals, organizations, and small businesses, too.