Friday, March 24, 2017

As region chokes in traffic, The Record ignores our broken mass-transit system

Traffic congestion at Hudson River crossings has only worsened since July 2014, when these drivers inched up a Manhattan ramp to the George Washington Bridge on a warm Friday night.

-- HACKENSACK, N.J.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Drivers have a special place in the hearts of the editors and transportation writers at The Record.

Road Warrior John Cichowski, who is supposed to be writing a commuting column, has spent more than 13 years fighting for drivers, raging against their every impediment -- from potholes to long lines at the Motor Vehicle Commission. 

Even as hour-long waits at Hudson River tollbooths have become the rule, Cichowski and The Record's editors ignore growing traffic congestion and the failure of government officials to expand bus and rail transit.

Typical of mass-transit coverage is today's front-page column about a couple who spend nine hours on trains every Friday night to go and have pizza for dinner (1A).

This past Monday, Cichowski ignored mass transit's potential for slowing climate change to reprint comments from readers who were upset that former Port Authority Chairman David Sampson got off without a jail sentence after pleading guilty to bribery.

He followed that on Wednesday with his first column ever on the long-delayed expansion of NJ Transit's electrified light-rail system to Bergen County.

The big news? A public hearing on a revised plan to add 10 miles of electrified rail service to downtown Englewood and terminate at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

The first leg of NJ Transit's light-rail system was opened in 2000.

But Cichowski doesn't bother to comment on Tenafly's short-sighted refusal to bar extension of light rail to the borough, where residents believe they have a constitutional right to commute to Manhattan in a car or SUV. 

Local news?

The Record's Local news section is dominated today by another story from Paterson, where "a large African cat" was found roaming the streets (1L).

A large photo and story reports a fire in Passaic city displaced 10 residents (3L).

In education news, Wyckoff has decided against switching to full-day kindergarten (10L).

Free advertising

The Better Living centerfold today carries a gushing report about the expected opening of a new restaurant in far-off Ossining, N.Y., that tells you everything except how far the place is from Sing Sing Prison (10BL and 11 BL).

The story includes a large photo of Chilean sea bass, which even fish lovers avoid, because of its high mercury content.

I'm not sure what motivated Gannett to give this restaurant a million dollars worth of free publicity, but readers have come to expect little more than crumbs when it comes to food and restaurant coverage.

On Wednesday, the "Now Open" feature focused on a new pizzeria that is about as welcome as another Turkish restaurant in North Jersey.

Last Friday, Food Editor Esther Davidowitz was beside herself over "six appetizers we can't get enough of," including a spinach dip that looked as appetizing as a bread bowl brimming with vomit.