Current DC council member and former mayor Marion Barry was involved in a minor traffic accident. Over at ADC, Patrick Zilliacus asks why Barry was driving at all. He’s long supported transit spending, opposed highway improvements and, as an alternate member of the transit board, he has a free, unlimited transit pass. The “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is pretty common among public officials. Flashback: Turns out, when asked by the Washington Post, only five out of 10 board members said they rode the system regularly (two others refused to talk, so it’s probably safe to file them under “infrequent transit user”). Not one is a daily user, and most have either never ridden a Metro bus or can’t remember the last time they did. The Philadelphia Inquirer found similar results after questions SEPTA board members: Only four of 14 members interviewed use the system at least twice a week. MoreÃ¢â?¬â??including Mitt Romney trying to recall the last time he took transitÃ¢â?¬â??here. There’s been a lot of talk about how higher gas prices give motorists more incentive to take transit. Of course, incentives don’t always come in dollars and cents. Think of the huge PR incentive public officials have to take transit. Those who use it on a daily basis could proudly proclaim that they’ve broken their driving “addiction,” that they’ve embraced the “enlightened” alternative. Imagine the credibility points they’d score, imagine the fawning newspaper profiles, and yet they keep on driving.
Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.