Both the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations day metro cards had pictures of a smiling Obama. Not this year though. I mean, of course they won’t be featuring Obama anymore. But they won’t be featuring a smiling Trump either. Or any kind of Trump for that matter.
In fact, there won’t be any mention of Trump at all. The cards will “feature an image of the White House against a red-white-and-blue flag backdrop,” according to WTOP.
— Todd Ruger (@ToddRuger) December 21, 2016
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The SmarTrip payment cards are being sold for $10 a piece – a 40 percent discount – and the Metro system will open an hour earlier at 4:00am to accommodate the massive influx of visitors on January 20. The $10 cards will allow unlimited access to the metro system on inauguration day.
So, is this Metro’s way of saying Trump is “not their president?” On its face, that’s how it appeared. But according to them, they simply didn’t have permission from the campaign. They sent out a request, and they didn’t hear back in time. (You snooze, you lose.)
A look back at past inauguration day metro access cards shows that featuring an image of the president-elect wasn’t necessarily the norm. In 2005, there was no mention of George W. Bush. It was simply a stylized image of the American flag. In 2001, it was a picture of the White House.
During Clinton’s inaugurations in 1993 and 1997, the payment cards featured his and Al Gore’s signatures, but no pictures of their faces.
While Metro is saying that they reached out to the Trump transition team for permission to use the President-elect’s image, and they didn’t hear back in time, that differs from their reasoning not to put George W.’s image on the card in 2001. CNS News reported in 2009:
President George W. Bush’s face was not put on the Metro fare card in 2001 because his inauguration did not generate enough positive public attention, Angela Gates, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Metro, told CNSNews.com.
“It’s not often that we do commemorative items,” Gates said. “It’s just very special major events that we anticipate a large public interest in.”
Maybe that’s actually why they didn’t put Trump’s image on their card – because his inauguration “did not generate enough positive public attention.” And Obama’s inaugurations did (from their perspective), because they were “historical.” I imagine if Hillary had won, that would classify as “historical” enough that they’d emblazon her image on the cards.