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Governor Pushes Ride-Sharing--Celebrity Mothers Give a Key Assist

Times Staff Writer

Gov. George Deukmejian Tuesday launched a re-energized, $1-million advertising campaign aimed at reducing traffic congestion and smog by persuading solo drivers to leave their cars at home and join ride-sharing pools.

To help him announce the campaign at Universal City, the governor enlisted the support of the mothers of entertainment and sports celebrities to promote the campaign theme that “your mother always taught you to share” and she “still knows what is best for you.”

Celebrity Mothers

Appearing with Deukmejian at Texaco Plaza were Jackie Stallone, mother of Sylvester Stallone, and Georgia Holt, mother of Cher. Later in San Francisco, Robin Williams’ mother, Laurie Williams, and Joanne Horton, mother of television’s Peter Horton, joined the governor to promote ride-sharing.

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In addition, Christina Johnson, mother of Laker star Magic Johnson, has made a radio spot that declares that her pro basketball son “got where he is today because I taught him how to share.”

Deukmejian, who has drawn criticism for the deterioration of California highways and for worsening traffic congestion, asserted in a brief speech that “construction alone won’t solve the problem.”

“That is where ride-sharing comes in,” he told a group of Texaco employees, many of whom commute in van pools. “Your mother always told you to share. It was good advice then, and it’s good advice to meet California’s transportation challenges.”

Deukmejian said currently there is an average of six persons in every five cars during peak commute periods. He said that “we can virtually eliminate congestion” if the average could be increased to seven people in every five cars.

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For the last couple of years, Deukmejian--who arrived 13 minutes late for the kickoff ceremony after being stuck in traffic--repeatedly has urged Californians to join in car and van pools or to take public transportation.

However, while gaining a substantial number of converts, his appeals have fallen short of winning the kind of widespread acceptance that would make a drastic dent in congestion and automobile-caused smog. Also, his earlier pleas were not linked to a well-financed advertising effort.

The $1 million in state funds will finance what Administration officials call an intensified campaign, featuring radio and newspaper advertising, billboards and public service announcements on television. Chiefly, the promotion of ride-sharing will focus on the Los Angeles and San Francico areas.

Last September, Deukmejian issued an executive order directing state government agencies to develop a “decongestion” traffic plan for employees and outlined a series of incentives for workers to leave their vehicles at home. These included a state subsidized transit pass for commuters and 30 minutes a day of compensated travel time for those using transit or van pools.

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