Sunday, March 13, 2016

Rail nightmare was averted, but commuters still face ordeal

Completed in April 2014, NJ Transit's new Anderson Street Station is more of a shelter, open to the elements on two sides, and with inadequate heating and few creature comforts.

Still, the station is a vast improvement over the two bus shelters and ticket machines commuters were provided after the original station house burned down on Jan. 10, 2009.


A tentative contract agreement may improve the lives of NJ Transit rail workers, who threatened to strike on Saturday.

But North Jersey commuters still have to contend with crowding on SRO trains and in their Penn Station waiting room in Manhattan, and frequent service disruptions.

The Record's A-3 reaction story today and Saturday's banner headline on Page 1 -- "Rail nightmare averted" -- ignores all of the problems rail commuters face, including higher fares and service cutbacks.

Nor is there any mention of Governor Christie's anti-mass transit policies, and the deep cuts he made in state subsidies, forcing NJ Transit to raise those fares.

Transportation reporter Christopher Maag, like his predecessors, apparently has never ridden a train to and from Manhattan during the rush hour, when seats are hard to come by, and reported on the quality of service.

And in more than a dozen years of writing the so-called commuting column, Road Warrior John Cichowski also has ignored train and bus service, distracted as he is by MVC lines, potholes, pedestrian deaths or road projects (L-1).

Half the story

In fact, a column and two major stories on today's front page are woefully incomplete.

Staff Writer Charles Stile's column sounds like a political battle over the state constitution between Christie and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, a Democrat (A-1).

But nowhere does Stile mention Sweeney's hand has been forced by the hundreds of vetoes the GOP bully has executed, including those against a hike in the minimum wage.

The A-1 graphic on local property taxes is missing towns where non-profit hospitals and other tax-exempt entities shift the burden to homeowners, such as Hackensack and Englewood, making it difficult for them to stay within the 2% cap.

And from the story on a lake cleanup, readers have a hard time deciding whether Pompton Lakes, state and federal environmental officials caved into corporate giant DuPont -- just like Ringwood did on Ford Motor Co. pollution.

Local news?

In Local today, stories about schools in Englewood, Saddle Brook, Edgewater and Leonia have Hackensack readers wondering why they rarely see anything in the paper on their schools (L-2 and L-6).

Readers also are puzzled why Englewood Schools Superintendent Robert Kravitz isn't being offered a merit payment for increasing white enrollment in the city's elementary and middle schools, where 99% of the students are black and Hispanic (L-2).

What's the point?

On the Opinion front, the first four paragraphs of Mike Kelly's column put readers to sleep.

OK. A Jersey shore native became "the first U.S. citizen to be convicted ... of trying to join the Islamic State in Syria and fight against his country" (O-1). 

"What is significant is how ordinary [Tairod] Pugh is," Kelly writes.

What is Kelly's point? Sadly, most readers will never turn the page.

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