Valérie Plante may be the new mayor of Montreal, but that doesn’t mean the Projet Montreal leader is going to change how she gets around.
Unlike her predecessor Denis Coderre, who used city-paid drivers to get around the city, Plante is going to keep taking the metro and biking about.
Whenever the new mayor can, at least.
Before being elected mayor, Plante always used public transit (or her own two legs) to get around Montreal. Plante’s team is saying that won’t change, reports Le Devoir.
This is actually something quite new for a mayor.
Montreal’s police force, the SPVM, is in charge with protecting the city’s municipal leader at all times, even when travelling. Usually the SPVM just needs to provide a security detail for travel-by-car, but Plante’s penchant for public transit is shaking up procedure.
According to Plante’s press secretary “there is no plan for a case like this,” quotes Le Devoir. Having a mayor ignore the luxury of a driver is “something new,” apparently.
Some sort of security detail will need to follow Plante no matter what form of transport she takes, since the mayor isn’t allowed to travel alone.
Plante will, however, still have access to drivers. The City of Montreal provides three drivers assigned to the mayor. And while the new mayor probably won’t use the drivers quite as often as her predecessor Denis Coderre, there will certainly be occasions where Plante is going to be taking the car, not the metro.
Expect one of the drivers to be cut, however, as Plante did say that the third position (created by Denis Coderre) is unnecessary. By cutting the third driver and rolling back overtime hours for the others, Plante can save the city $200,000 in spending.
But other than a bit of frugality, what does Plante traveling by bike or metro really mean?
Well, for one, it upholds Plante’s image as the “mayor of mobility,” although her administration stresses that this isn’t all about optics.
With politicians, you can never really be certain what’s being done honestly and what’s a PR move.
Regardless, Plante regularly taking the metro will mean a lot to Montrealers.
Instead of having a mayor who holds themselves up in the ivory towers of City Hall, only taking to the streets when driven around in a cushy car, now we have a municipal leader who will travel alongside the average citizen of Montreal.
Just imagine what it will feel like to see the mayor of Montreal on your metro car. Obviously there’s the requisite Instagram photo proving it happened, but it also provides a meaningful, tangible connection to city hall.
The mayor isn’t a celebrity seen only on TV or at special events anymore.
By actually taking public transit Plante also ensures she stays connected to an issue she campaigned so strongly for: moving Montrealers around, efficiently.
A municipal leader who actually takes the metro regularly, experiencing the woes of service stoppages or jam-packed cars, can understand what transit riders face on a daily basis, then take action to solve the problems.
Denis Coderre was a great mayor of Montreal, no doubt about that. But Plante is orienting herself as a different type of leader, one a bit more grounded to every day issues, which is just what the city may need.