The DC Metro is planning once again to release 100,000 “commemorative fare” paper ($14) and plastic SmarTrip ($15) metro cards for the 2013 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. The proposed designs depict either Obama or Romney with accompanying pictures and a slogan.
President Obama was the first to be lauded in this way by the DC Metro. President Bush was not given the same fare-card treatment because, according to Metro spokesman Angela Gates as quoted in 2009, his inauguration did not generate enough positive publicity:
It’s not often that we do commemorative items. It’s just very special major events that we anticipate a large public interest in.
This year, while DC Metro admits that attendance is not projected to be as high (“as we prepare to provide service to crowds that are not projected to be the historic numbers experienced in 2009″), nevertheless the cards will be back. The Obama design includes the slogan “America Makes History Again”:
The Romney design reads “A New Future for America”:
In the 2009 interview, Gates said the reason for the commemorative fare cards was to generate revenue to pay for the extra service it provides those days:
Metro has produced 40,000 commemorative SmarTrip cards and expects to sell all of them. The four-color cards, along with the smiling Obama picture, read: “Barack Obama, Inauguration Day, January 20, 2009, 44th President of the United States.” Gates said the revenue from the inaugural cards will be spent to help pay for the extra service it will provide on inauguration day. Rush hour service will be offered all day on Jan. 20, which Gates said is an expensive operation.
I checked on the DC Metro’s website and the 2009 “Obama Commemorative SmarTrip Card” is still for sale for $10.00, despite being described as “limited edition.” The limited edition must still be in supply.
The DC Metro told the taxpayers that all of the 2009 cards would sell–and they didn’t. The spokesman said the publicity of 2009 was so overwhelming that it explained why President Bush didn’t receive the same “fare-card” treatment. Given that they didn’t sell out, that they admit the crowd numbers won’t be as large, and that there is a lack of overwhelming publicity this year, why go ahead with the special edition fare cards?
But perhaps the more important question is, who came up with those lackluster slogans?