Sunday, May 22, 2016

Piling on decades-long tradition of demonizing mass transit

On Boulevard East in West New York, passengers boarding a local NJ Transit bus to Manhattan on a weekday morning in late March found standing room only.

An NJ Transit train pulling into the Anderson Street station, one of two rail stations in Hackensack.


At least The Record has been consistent in decades of negative reporting about bus and train service to Manhattan from northern New Jersey.

It began more than 20 years ago with two front-page stories on "highways of the future" by a transportation reporter who ignored screeching brakes and noisy engines on NJ Transit commuter buses.

Then, the editors went on the warpath against extension of NJ Transit's pollution-free light-rail service to Englewood and Tenafly.

And in the last year or so, the paper's transportation reporters don't seem to be reporting anything but how many "billions of dollars" will have to be spent to replace the antiquated mid-Manhattan bus station and expand rail service to the city.

Page 1 stories today and Saturday also emphasize how transportation spending is mired in politics.

Sadly, readers haven't seen anything about the tremendous societal benefits of taking commuters out of their cars -- from less traffic congestion to fewer deaths from auto emissions to greater worker productivity.

Today's so-called analysis of NJ Transit's "problems" is especially bad, because Staff Writer Christopher Maag again ignores Governor Christie's war on commuters, and his deep cuts in state operating subsidies -- cuts that forced the agency to raise fares (A-1). 

The headline uses "NJT" for NJ Transit, eve though that has never been recognized as an acronym for the state mass-transit agency.

Bridgegate probe

Staff Writer Jeff Pillets was once of the first reporters to understand that the George Washington Bridge scandal would be as damaging to Christie's reputation as Watergate was to President Richard Nixon, who was hounded out of office (A-1 and O-1).

But no reporter has been able to show that Christie at least knew about the Bridgegate conspiracy during his successful 2013 campaign for a second term.

Deep in today's front-page story, Pillets and reporter Dustin Racioppi report that Christie aide Regina Egea and the governor are "believed" to have deleted text messages they exchanged as Port Authority officials testified to a legislative committee looking into the lane closings (A-4).

Local news?

The Local section delivered to Bergen County readers today includes stories from West Milford, Wanaque, Woodland Park, Pequannock and Ringwood (L-1 to L-7).

The Borgs and North Jersey Media Group save money on newsprint by printing only one section, but cheat Bergen readers out of the local news they deserve.

Meanwhile, The Record continues to chronicle the violent death of every animal in North Jersey. 

Today, eight paragraphs are devoted to a Morris County golfer who killed a goose (L-3).

Road Warrior John Cichowski today reports on "better training" for motorcyclists, not a ticket blitz to penalize them for disturbing the peace (L-1).

What about better training for elderly drivers like Cichowski who too often mistake the gas pedal for the brake pedal? 

Split personality

On Fridays, Staff Writer Elisa Ung's reviews are supposed to take a critical look at new restaurants.

But on Sundays, her uncritical Corner Table column does little more than promote chefs and restaurants, as in her glowing profile of Fortunato Nicotra of Paramus (BL-1).

Those Sunday columns are a disservice to reader who want more -- not less -- information about how the food they eat was raised or grown.

On BL-2 today, the First Course feature pushes za'atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, that costs the equivalent of $80 a pound when purchased online.

That same mixture is available at Fattal's and other stores in the bustling South Paterson neighborhood of Paterson for about $8 a pound. 

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