Sunday, December 6, 2015

More clueless reporting on latest toll hike, elderly drivers

The New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, where tolls went up today for the fifth year in a row, as they did at all of the crossings operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in what The Record suggests was a plot between Governors Christie and Cuomo.


Once again, The Record is portraying New Jersey's bridge and tunnel crowd as powerless to do anything beyond bitching and moaning about the latest toll increase at the GWB and other crossings.

Today's story on the Local front ignores off-peak toll discounts available to drivers of hybrid and other green cars, as well as the biggest break of all, available 24/7 to any motorist -- the Carpool Plan.

Starting today, the peak E-ZPass toll went to $12.50 from $11.75, and the off-peak E-ZPass rate also is up 75 cents, to $9.75 (L-1).

Go green, save green

But owners of more than 40 hybrid, plug-in and all-electric models with a "Green E-ZPass" pay only $7 off-peak, and any driver with an E-ZPass and a total of three people in the car pays only $6.50 at all times.

The Green Pass and Carpool Plans require pre-registration. The Green Pass discount has been available since 2004.

Major error

Staff Writer Marina Villeneuve also includes a major factual error that was overlooked by all of the editors who read her story before publication.

"Starting today," the reporter says, "auto motorists using cash will have to pay $15 to cross, a trip that until recently cost half that" (L-1).

Putting the awkward phrase "auto motorists" aside, the cash toll was never "half" of $15.

It was $8, but that was four years ago, in 2011, not "recently."

And that was when Governors Christie and Cuomo perpetrated the great, annual toll-hike scam to finance construction of a new World Trade Center and other projects.

Elderly drivers

Road Warrior John Cichowski is another reporter who ignores the facts, as readers can see in today's attempt to drum up business for "a low-cost, volunteer ride service ... for the elderly and visually impaired" (L-1).

ITN's North Jersey affiliate in Wyckoff hasn't be able to find enough volunteers so the improvement in "public safety" -- by removing seniors who are visually impaired from behind the wheel -- has been limited.

Cichowski knows from all of the seniors who mistake the gas pedal for the brake pedal that retraining would cut the number of accidents and deaths far more dramatically than a ride service for the elderly.

But in more than a dozen years of writing his column, Cichowski has been too lazy to contact AARP  and similar groups to find out if retraining is available to his peers.

Today's front page

I've rarely seen a Sunday edition with a front page so devoid of useful news for readers in North Jersey.

On the Opinion front, Columnist Mike Kelly doesn't seem willing to denounce lawmakers for taking contributions from the National Rifle Association to block a bill that would stop "terrorists" from buying a gun (O-1 and O-4).

Kelly calls an average of three dozen people killed by guns on any given day "embarrassing." 

And "heartbreaking" is how he describes the lack of "any concrete political action to stop this blood-soaked trend."

I won't bore you with the rest of his column.

Uber screws drivers

The Record's Business section has been anti-worker for decades.

Today's long story on the impact of Uber on the traditional yellow-cab industry continues the trend (B-1).

Staff Writer Richard Newman's focus are the potential losses faced by banks that have issued hundreds of millions of dollars in loans backed by "New York City taxi medallions, which have declined in value from ... $1.3 million two years ago to about $80o,000 today."

Newman doesn't discuss the impact on cabbies nor report on the exploitation of Uber drivers, who supply their own cars and pay for gas, insurance and repairs.

Sinatra overload

I'd much rather hear Frank Sinatra sing and watch him act than plow through three major pieces on him in today's paper (A-1 and BL-1).

Two of them are by Staff Writer Bill Ervolino, whose regular humor column bombs every Sunday.

The only saving grace is that Better Living editors couldn't find room for The Corner Table column from food critic Elisa Ung, who usually promotes celebrity chefs and wealthy restaurant owners or makes excuses for why they don't serve naturally raised food.

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