Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Rahm Clarifies CTA Versus Driving Comments

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Mayor says people have a choice of whether to drive or take public transportation.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel believes comments he made Monday were minsconstrued in regards to consumer choices related to CTA pass increases. 

Emanuel compared the rising and unstable price of gas to the locked-in cost of taking a train or bus as a reason why the CTA is a better deal.

The mayor was leaving a news conference Wednesday on an unrelated matter when a Chicago Tribune reporter's question about whether he regretted saying "Chicagoans can choose to drive to work rather than taking the CTA" caused him to spin around and head back to the podium.

"That's not what I said ... what I said is a choice. People have a choice between public transportation and private," Emanuel said. "If you're coming in from O'Hare, you pay $50 for the cab to come downtown. You can rent a car, which is probably close to that, or you can take the CTA. That's a choice, which is much cheaper."

Monday's comments created some pushback from some CTA riders upset with the pass increases, and who perceived it as an especially galling take it or leave it scenario because many people take public transportation because they don't have their own vehicles. It even prompted someone to create a mocking @RahmSaysDrive Twitter account.

Emanuel went on to explain why taking public transportation is a competitive option, because you can read the paper, check email or talk "quietly" on your phone.

"I did not say or imply that you could just drive, I said there's a choice," Emanuel said. "People choose public transportation because it's competitive against private transportation. That's a choice, and the service is getting better and improved and that's my intention."

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