While I was in Washington, DC I noticed a number of vehicles with the logo for Metro – the commuter train on the side. They ranged from lawn equipment hauling trucks to armored cars, as well as a number of automobiles. As it turns out, my hotel in Alexandria, VA (suburban Washington) was located near one of the equipment yards for the Metro. However, one of the big local stories was that a number of Metro officials had access to cars they could take home.
Now I’ve been told that Washington, DC not only encourages people to use the Metro it also intentionally limits parking spaces to a number that is a fraction of the numbers of people who work there. Apparently they take their mass transit quite seriously and expect everyone to utilize it whenever possible.
I use the Metro in DC whenever possible. In my case it’s because there are certain places where I prefer NOT to drive. Among them are Washington DC, the French Quarter in New Orleans and most of California. I consider it powerful evidence that I do not have a death wish. The Metro offers convenience, reliability, reasonable safety and is cost effective, so if I have the option, I’ll use it.
However, the hoopla over the Metro cars shows an interesting situation. The stories pointed out that some Metro employees with cars included Metro police including their K-9 teams; if someone is threatening the commuter train, I think a rapid response is good. Others were authorized cars that may be used by others during the day. These same cars CAN be taken home by certain managers in the evening – but most do not routinely do so. I’m guessing that if you have an early morning meeting out of town (i.e. beyond the train’s coverage) use a company car.
These issues didn’t distress me, but got me to thinking. Marketing convinces us to make a choice because we believe that it is in our best interest. On the other hand, some people prefer to have the ability to demand that some people make a certain decision. It’s the old honey vs. vinegar argument. Use the Metro because it’s safe, convenient and inexpensive vs. take the Metro because we told you to and we took away most of the parking spots.
I prefer the illusion that a decision is mine.