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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Akron Elected Leaders are Riding Public Transit to Promote Public Transit

"It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for 'em."

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2018 at 1:36 PM

click to enlarge What is this "bus" you speak of? (Cleveland City Council on a neighborhood tour in June, 2016). - SAM ALLARD / SCENE
  • Sam Allard / Scene
  • What is this "bus" you speak of? (Cleveland City Council on a neighborhood tour in June, 2016).

Down in Summit County, the Metro Regional Transit Authority is rolling out a promotion to get prominent elected leaders to ride public transit. As part of "Official-ly Onboard," — good name — Akron's Mayor Dan Horrigan, Cuyahoga Falls' Mayor Don Walters and Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro will all take rides with Metro's Executive Director Dawn Distler throughout the day Monday.

The goal is simple, said Metro: to highlight the importance of public transit in the community.

“There’s no better way to get around,” Dawn Distler said in a statement. “We’re excited to host what we hope will be the first of many Metro rides with officials working in the county we proudly serve.”

Metro's communications director Molly Becker did not immediately respond with additional details, but the promotion seems pretty straightforward to us.

In Cleveland, RTA spokesperson Linda Krecic told Scene she was unaware of any promotion of that kind with city or county leaders, at least in recent memory. The most public instance of an elected official riding RTA was when former Councilman Zack Reed rode the bus as his primary transit mode after his driver's license was revoked for repeatedly driving under the influence of alcohol. He became a vocal advocate for allowing buses on Public Square as he geared up for a mayoral run. (For the record: Mayor Jackson's former chief of staff and current Gateway board chair, Ken Silliman has been frequently spotted walking and riding RTA.) 

Public transit is a pressing regional issue, and one that residents are clearly eager to find solutions for. Local city and county leaders should consider using the power of their office, their bully pulpits, to demonstrate that they are officially on board too.   

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