Ed Rendell logged nearly 50,000 miles on a bus emblazoned with his image while campaigning for governor of Pennsylvania in 2002 ["The Gubernatorial Baby Boom," January 2003]. Once in office, he planned to use bus trips to make himself more accessible. Now dubbed "Commonwealth One," the latest bus was unveiled to much fanfare last May.
However, problems quickly arose. The administration neglected to get permission to put legislative leaders' names on the side of the bus, and misspelled one state official's name. To make matters worse, the Philadelphia Inquirer revealed that the man who donated the bus owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in state taxes. Mechanical problems also plagued the vehicle.
The bus clocked only 1,100 miles in its first six months. Eventually, a foundation Rendell co-chairs bought the bus and donated it to the state. "Having it at no cost to the taxpayers is quite a feat," says Kate Philips, the governor's press secretary, who points out that the bus is available to all state officials.
Rendell is now back on the road, at times taking legislators along. The rides seem to be helping. A nine-month budget standoff ended in December, with Rendell scoring victories on an income tax increase and a boost in aid to schools.