A true champion of passenger rail.
It started with an ad Wayne Davis submitted to the newspaper. It asked for anyone interested in seeing passenger rail service come to Portland to attend a meeting held in a local bank on a Tuesday night. Twenty-one people showed and formed the first Board of Directors of TrainRiders Northeast, a group of passenger rail enthusiasts “dedicated to bringing modern and efficient passenger rail service to Northern New England.” Since then, Davis has been not only instrumental in getting passenger rail service to Maine, he helped create the Downeaster’s onboard train host service that warmly welcomes and acts as a resource for guests riding the train, and was the Downeaster’s first Ambassador.
On December 14, 2001, after a decade of obstacles, testimonies before congress, meetings with officials at the state and federal levels of government, consumers, rail companies and unions—and the creation of Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA)—the Downeaster made its maiden voyage.
While aboard that exciting first trip, joined by Governor Angus King and many other dignitaries and guest from the U.S. and Canada, Davis proposed another idea: what if TrainRiders Board Members acted as hosts to ensure safety, educate and be a resource for riders on the train?
“Governor King liked the idea, and following the inaugural celebration he wondered if we might continue to offer the host program as a regular amenity on board some of the daily trains for a while… till folks became familiar with train travel,” recalls Davis, “We’ve been at it ever since 2001.”
To this day, Davis remains a friendly face aboard the Downeaster as an Ambassador. Over the years, he’s chatted with thousands of individuals, couples and families, welcoming them aboard with his steadfast optimism, trove of knowledge and kind smile.
One of his most memorable moments as a Downeaster Ambassador over the years happened not long after he started hosting. He was speaking with a young couple headed to Boston. The man was in a wheelchair and told Davis that the train was affording the couple their first opportunity since “the accident,” as they described it, to travel comfortably, enjoying food and beverage as they made their way to Boston’s Copley Plaza Hotel to stay after a theater production. This was something, they shared, that they had not been able to do since the man required a wheelchair.
“It was a memorable moment in time for me, repeated often by folks headed for Boston Hospitals and doctors to receive lifesaving treatments unavailable anywhere else. And thanks to the management policies of NNEPRA, such passengers enjoy special reduced fares.”
Wayne Davis has done so much for passenger rail service in Maine and continues to champion the use, expansion and restoration. He truly is an Ambassador who deserves the spotlight.
Click here to read about other Downeaster Ambassadors making huge contributions in their own unique ways.