In an article published by the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago is quoted on the recent CTA fare hikes and manages to showcase his arrogance and ignorance of basic economics in just a few lines:
Fares stayed the same. Basic fares stayed the same, which you cannot say about gas prices…
Now you, as a commuter, will pick. You can either drive to work or you can take public transportation, and the standard fare will stay the same…
The Mayor clearly didn’t think over his words, but then again, he rarely does.
In this instance he is clearly ignoring the nearly 500 million rides that people have taken on the CTA up until October 31 of this year (an increase of about 3% from last year). He also ignores the fact that the price of gasoline is (mostly) determined by a free market and not a government agency and is therefore subject to fluctuation in price based on supply and demand, whereas the CTA is a government agency that is responsible for setting the fare. Not to mention the fact that the Mayor’s remarks obviously ignore his administration’s own effort to increase the amount of bike paths on city streets and to make pedestrian safety a priority. Suggesting that more Chicagoans drive is counterintuitive to both goals.
The Mayor’s remarks are a jab at those complaining about the fare increases, and he certainly knows that driving is a lot more expensive (thousands of dollars more expensive) than taking public transportation, which is probably why he said it – to make the objectors think about how much more expensive driving to work would really be (it would actually be impossible to put everyone who rides the CTA to work in a parking spot, especially in the Loop, which is based on my own simple observations alone).
Or, Mayor Emanuel is just a tactless jerk.
I can’t argue that politicians do mistakenly go off-message (some more than others, though), and agree that transit is still a great deal compared to driving. I hope the Mayor’s office clarifies his statement.