Just one day after winning the election for mayor with a whopping 85 percent of the vote, Jim Kenney announced that he’ll be riding the subway to work in City Hall, at least some of the time.
The incoming mayor says it’s a way for him to stay in touch with the city, its neighborhoods and his South Philly roots.
It's unclear if the Broad Street Line will be an everyday thing for the former city councilman. Talking to reporters at Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Philadelphia, Kenney produced a subway token from his pocket.
“I told the potential police commissioner that I want people on my protective detail who don’t mind public transit,” Kenney said. “Since I was nominated in May, people stop me and say ‘What are you doing on the subway?’ and I say ‘Going to work.””
Staying in touch seems to be something of a theme with Kenney, who announced on Wednesday a series of town hall meetings and a website, kenneyforphiladelphia.com, that residents can use to advise him on what he says is “actionable policy.” He's long been a prolific user of social media, and before he was a mayoral candidate was known for a stream-of-conciousness Twitter account in which he made obersvations large, small and personal.
Other big announcements, Kenney said, are on the way. He plans on naming the leaders of his transition team on Thursday, and identifying big appointments like police commissioner and managing director before Thanksgiving.
Riding the subway on a regular basis will likely be something of a change for recent Philadelphia mayors. Michael Nutter lives in Wynnefield and Ed Rendell lived in East Falls, neighborhoods for which a commute via public transit wouldn’t be quite fast enough. John Street had a particularly elaborate security detail and, like Nutter and Rendell, relied on a driver to bring him to work.
Those too will be available to Kenney, and it’s likely he’ll use them some of the time because mayors don’t always start their day at City Hall.
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But using public transit is not without precedent for big city mayors.
Michael Bloomberg famously rode the New York City subway regularly when he was in office -- though occasionally a member of his security detail would ferry him in a black SUV to a subway stop that offered express service.