The Politics of Transportation for the #DNC

PhiladelphiaWelcome to Philadelphia. We actually threw snowballs at Santa Claus. We’re the fifth rudest city in America. Our foods are cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. It’s Philly. But we worked hard to get the DNC here, and we should be trying to put our best foot forward. But, as I said, it’s Philly.

We have a regional transportation system called SEPTA. Trains, subways, buses — and the infamous Regional Rail. A couple weeks ago, new Regional Rail cars were found to be dangerously defective, and a third of the fleet was pulled from service. Good for safety, bad for commuting. Think graft and corruption. So who saves the commuters? Uber. The Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) is allowing Uber to operate in Philadelphia for the convention and for a while after. A few things to know about the PPA:

  • The PPA is incredibly efficient at giving tickets and removing illegally parked cars. PPA works, unless you need to briefly pull up in front of a doctor’s office and get your aged parent into the building while you go look for a legal space. (Seriously, FIVE MINUTES!)
  • The TV show about PPA caused tourists to be afraid to come to Philadelphia.
  • Since Uber is involved in a court battle as they’re not allowed in Philly (or rather, weren’t allowed), the taxi drivers have decided to possibly go on strike during the convention. They’re going to court to stop Uber.

Also, baggage handlers, wheelchair attendants, airplane cleaners and other workers at Philadelphia International Airport voted 461-5 to strike for the convention. They say that since the DNC platform calls for a $15/hour minimum wage, the conventioneers should be supportive. They are striking for pay, better conditions and the right to unionize. Good idea, bad timing.

On the bright side, liquor will be flowing. In Pennsylvania, you can only buy liquor from the state stores. If you’re from out of state, think poor selection, high prices and a quick trip to Delaware. But as part of the state budget, there’s an exemption for the convention and its events so that organizations can bring in their own liquor. And about that budget — it was due June 30, passed in mid-July, which beats 2015 when the budget was also due on June 30, and passed in March of 2016.

But hey, it’s Philly, and it actually will be a fun time.

As I’ve told every first-time delegate with whom I spoke: wear comfortable shoes.

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