Pols want us to drive as they say, not as they do

Democrats have it all wrong.

Instead of demanding that Gov. Charlie Baker take the T, they should force Baker to get behind the wheel of his own car on a hot summer day, sweat dripping down his forehead, as he inches along the melting pavement in a monster traffic jam.

No police driver. No chauffeur. Just his own long legs uncomfortably squeezed below the dashboard, watching the gauge for his self-financed fuel tank drop.

Only then could Baker and his administration truly understand the frustrations and anger of the average Massachusetts motorist.

Same goes for the rest of our state political leaders charged with making the decisions about roads and traffic.

Put House Speaker Robert DeLeo in a 2009 Toyota Corolla with the air conditioning busted. Make Mayor Marty Walsh sit in a Ford Focus at 4 in the afternoon trying to navigate from City Hall to Hyde Park for a meeting. Force Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito to drive her own jalopy from Shrewsbury to Beacon Hill every day.

The truth is that many of our political leaders are spared the ignominy of the daily commuting grind that the rest of us have to endure every working day.

State legislators get paid to travel to Beacon Hill, can use their campaign accounts to pay for leased cars, and when they get to work they have free parking spaces waiting for them.

At least Senate President Karen Spilka still drives herself, according to her office. Former Gov. Michael Dukakis took the Green Line to the State House pretty much every day while he was in office, and now there’s no more passionate advocate for trains than him.

But even during his campaign, Baker didn’t drive himself around or take the MBTA — he had a driver who he later promoted to be chief colonel of the environmental police.

Now that the state has finally issued its long-awaited report on traffic congestion, do Baker and our elected leaders finally get it?

Not likely. The report contained such “No Duh” conclusions as the fact that commuting snarls have gotten worse, and last for longer periods during the day.

No kidding. We’ve known this for years. We don’t need a report by Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack to tell us this.

The solution is obvious — including fixing the T and other public transportation to make it easier for motorists to avoid the highway to get to work. Also, and this may be obvious, but stop closing down lanes of highway during peak travel hours for so-called construction.

But what’s really called for is something more dramatic. Take away those perks and free cars and free gas and parking make our elected officials feel the pain of getting to work just like we do.

Put Baker behind the wheel of a Ford Escape and see him squirm in his seat while trying to simultaneously drink a cup of coffee and dodge the traffic.

Then see what policies he comes up with.



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