Mandate Politicians to use RTA in Cleveland?

9 Oct

Rahm Emmanuel interacting with other Chicago commuters

In Chicago, new mayor Rahm Emmanuel has ordered city employees to use public transportation for jaunts about town on city business once they’ve arrived at the office. He did this because he uses public transport himself, and because he wants to trim the fat. Estimated savings? A million annually. There had been some shady doings with reimbursements, including those for car washes and parking tickets. Chicagoans are pleased.

I love this idea, but want to add a twist for Cleveland. Yes, let them do this, but also, twice a month, have the councilmen and other city politicos TAKE PUBLIC TRANSIT TO AND FROM WORK. It’d be nice if they did this voluntarily, but I wager few would opt for it. But if they did…

A wandering story repository

They would learn how convoluted are the routes and times many have to plot to get to work. They’d reconsider where a bench or shelter would be invaluable. They’d think about the reasoning that puts police substations in Rapid stations, then doesn’t staff them. And if they had to do an occasional schlep to stop for groceries, they’d wonder how to get to a stop without breaking their bags and arms. They’d appreciate the free city trolleys and think about how they promote business and city living–maybe they’d install a J trolley that would loop from Detroit and W 25th to Lorain, heading West to W 65th and back up to Detroit and east again. People could go to the West Side Market, dine out in Ohio City or Detroit Shoreway, get to a multiplicity of churches to worship or enjoy architectural treasures, see a play at Cleveland Public Theatre or catch a film at the Capitol. I can’t help but smile at the thought.

The Thrifty Bon VIvant dreams of a trolley line circling from W. 25 to W. 65, Lorain to Detroit

More importantly, they’d understand their citizens’ lives better in the here and now–which might help them understand the transformative power of good public transit. Only the most desperate of the middle class ride the bus now–otherwise they avoid the lingering stench of some homeless, or the rowdy curses of schoolchildren heading home. Most of the citizens on the bus are members of the hoi polloi. Unshy about their phone conversations, politicos would soon be clued into how very common stories of incarceration (pending, just ending or about to commence) are, as are tales of late child support payments, missed job interviews, and overwhelming illness. Lines outside the West Catholic center, non-hipsters at Unique Thrift. Want to know where free meals are that day? Someone on the bus will know. It can be Jerry Springer without the twisted entertainment factor, but it’s an indispensable part of the city. We all need to know what life is like for all, especially those planning the city’s direction. Numbers and trends don’t make it as personal as overheard conversations about public housing and molesting uncles.

There’s a story a day on the RTA (copyright pending). And if the councilmen pushed past the baby buggies to climb on board regularly, it would be a better story.


One Response to “Mandate Politicians to use RTA in Cleveland?”

  1. web design November 5, 2011 at 12:10 AM #

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