NEW YORK New York's billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg, boasts that he rides the subway "almost every day" but a quarter of his commute is spent in a chauffeured SUV, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
The Times monitored the mayor's routine for five weeks and discovered that instead of walking to a local train near his house, Bloomberg is driven to a swifter express train 22 blocks away.
Bloomberg's morning commute with the masses is a major part of his public image, and the revelation comes as Bloomberg is under scrutiny because of continuing speculation he is considering a presidential bid in 2008. The mayor says he has no plans to run for the White House.
Bloomberg has cultivated a national reputation as a champion of carbon emissions control and a strict enforcer of gun laws. He is also the main proponent of a plan to reduce traffic that would charge motorists $8 a day to drive on Manhattan streets.
On mornings that he travels from his East 79th Street townhouse to City Hall, in lower Manhattan, the mayor is met by two "king-size Chevrolet Suburbans," the Times said.
Rather than walk five minutes to the nearest subway station, where he can catch a train that stops every few blocks, Bloomberg is driven 22 blocks to an express station for a train that makes fewer stops.
The routine cuts the duration of the mayor's commute by one-third, the newspaper said.
Bloomberg's chief spokesman, Stu Loeser, was not immediately available for comment. But he told the Times, "The mayor rides the subway like anyone else."