Saturday, March 30, 2013

Finally, editors rate our lousy transportation system

Commuters muscle their way through doors at Penn Station in Manhattan.
One Friday night in September, the line at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan stretched to the level below where commuters board NJ Transit buses.
Rush-hour traffic comes to a dead stop on the Garden State Parkway.


Today's front-page story on prospects for a higher gasoline tax is the first in many years to rate the state's transportation system as "among the worst in the country with little money for repairs and improvement."

Typically, the editors of The Record have responded to increasing road, bus and rail congestion by assigning reporters to cover transit-agency meetings.

Today's Page 1 story is tricked out with photos and a graphic, but not a single quote from a commuter experiencing the crush of rush-hour travel.

Christie apologists

Much more is missing. 

Soon after he took office, Governor Christie launched his war against the middle class by pulling the plug on the Hudson River rail tunnels, the first major expansion in decades.

Christie also has shied away from pressuring the Port Authority to expand the bus system by adding a second, reverse lane into the Lincoln Tunnel.

Commuters' viewpoint?

Instead of running inane photos of fender benders to fill the Local news section, the editors could run photos of commuter hell, and actually quote drivers and rail and bus riders on what they experience.

Then, officials may finally be able to muster the political will to pass a higher gas tax, fix our roads and expand our transit system.

Good, bad reporting

Last year, Staff Writer Karen Rouse did tackle the reasons for the big crowds at Penn Station in Manhattan, but that followed a number of anti-light rail takeouts from Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza and his then-pet transporation reporter, Tom Davis.

Turn the page 

One glance at the unflattering photo of Mike Kelly, complete with shit-eating grin, and just a few words like "chortle" and "beery" are enough to turn off readers to whatever he is writing about, as in today's A-1 column on a state song.

Three corrections stand out on A-2 today, two of them from the thin Travel section and the idiotic Readers on the Road feature.

Hackensack news

On the Local front today, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes presents the first Hackensack news since March 22, a story on plans for a new Anderson Street rail station.

The story makes no attempt to explain why it has taken more than four years for NJ Transit to unveil plans for a new station, which was destroyed by a fire and explosion on Jan. 10, 2009.

And the story fails to note that in its final years, the station's waiting room was closed, and ticket machines were outside, where sun often prevented commuters from reading their screens and buying tickets.  

That meant they had to pay a surcharge to buy a ticket on board the train.


  1. Should be March 22, though with such pathetic Hackensack coverage could very well be last May. Sykes and Nostrand need to lift their heads out of their feeding troughs once in a while.


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