Name-Calling Trumps Facts in the Post’s Attacks on 34th Street Transitway

The New York Post is escalating its coordinated, fantasy-based assault on efforts to make New York a better city for transit, cycling, and walking. Check out the impressive synergies from its opinion pages:

The New York Post wants to preserve the status quo on 34th Street. Photo: ##http://ontransport.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/photo-of-the-week-nowhere-to-go/##Chris O'Leary##
  • Last week, columnist Steve Cuozzo wrote a column blasting plans for the 34th Street transitway without bothering to check facts or call the business interests he purported to speak for.
  • Over the weekend, the Post opinion page published a stream of inaccuracies and lies blasting the transitway.
  • And today, professional invective-spewer Andrea Peyser wrote a column blasting the transitway and ridiculing transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

These people are not serious. A serious person would acknowledge that crosstown bus service stinks, and that it’s a problem which makes life more difficult for people who live and work in Manhattan. But the New York Post doesn’t mention bus service in any of its opinions about this groundbreaking bus project.

The ten slowest bus routes in New York City, which has the slowest average bus speeds in the nation, are all crosstown bus routes in Manhattan [PDF]. Between them, they’re used by more than 100,000 riders each weekday. The 34th Street transitway — potentially the first physically-separated bus route in New York City — is a serious attempt to improve crosstown bus service and show how streets can work for the majority of New Yorkers who depend on transit.

The Post and its columnists aren’t grappling seriously with how to improve NYC bus service. They’re groping for the snappiest phrase to discredit the project. Peyser, who calls Sadik-Khan a “hater of the internal-combustion engine,” doesn’t even seem to know that buses are propelled by internal combustion. The Post, which claims that the project is proceeding “in secret and without a shred of real accountability,” doesn’t seem to have bothered to look into how the project has actually proceeded.

The truth is that the city and the MTA have been publicly presenting iterations of this project and seeking feedback for some time. They’ve asked three community boards to weigh in on it. Last year, they started to convene a “community advisory committee” composed of elected officials, business leaders, community board members, and other groups with a stake in the future of 34th Street. They’ve hosted a series of public forums about issues like curbside access along the busway. The design is still being adjusted in response to the feedback at these meetings.

The truth is that the Post, for whatever reason, doesn’t like the project.

But people, including people with political power, do read the Post, and in its weekend opinion piece the paper asked the City Council to intercede and stop the 34th Street plan. As Cap’n Transit wrote today, if you care about transit, it’s important to contact your council member and tell them to pay no mind to the Post’s browbeating.

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