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Thursday’s Headlines: Murphy’s Flaw Edition

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy may be the worst Democrat since Strom Thurmond. Plus other news.

12:00 AM EST on January 25, 2024

Photo: NJ Transit

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy might just be the worst Democrat since Strom Thurmond. On Wednesday, we learned (via the NY Post, the Times, the Daily News, Politico, Gothamist and others) that fares on New Jersey Transit would rise by 15 percent, which reminds us that Murphy would rather spend money to sue over congestion pricing or to widen highways than save his own state's public transit system.

He's been warned for years that NJ Transit needed help and a budget shortfall was looming. But Murphy has dawdled. No wonder MTA CEO Janno Lieber could barely contain his glee: "New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said that he would fix NJ Transit if it killed him. He's not dying … he's not even trying!"

Others pointed out the irony that Murphy is busy trying to defend the small number of Garden Staters who drive into the city rather than boosting services for the much larger number who take transit (a number that would be larger if he did more for riders).

The whole thing would be funny if it wasn't so tragic. More than 200,000 people use NJ Transit to enter New York every day. They're doing the right thing, even if their governor isn't.

The other big story yesterday was Mayor Adams's self-congratulatory State of the City address (which was excessive, even by SOTC standards). Before the speech, his office dolled out lots of "exclusives" to everyone but Streetsblog:

  • amNY was told that the city will spend $56 million to move Kimlau Square in Chinatown across the street to add pedestrian space, but mostly just improve conditions for drivers. Sounds like a lot of green for not so much of it. (Meanwhile, The City wrote about shenanigans involving fundraising for a Chinatown arch for Brooklyn.)
  • CBS2 was handed the news that the city will expand its on-street trash containerization pilot to the rest of West Harlem.
  • The Daily News was gifted the mini-scoop that Mayor Adams will expand funding for skateparks.
  • And Bloomberg's John Surico and Gothamist's Stephen Nessen were leaked very limited details that the mayor hopes to create a new Department of Sustainable Delivery, which the Post (which didn't get the exclusive) derided as a crackdown on e-bikes. Meanwhile, some advocates are concerned about (which was part of our later coverage):

Here's what the mayor didn't say:

  • He didn't say a word about bike lanes, even after a year when 28 cyclists were killed in crashes, one of the most ever. City Hall didn't release that absence in advance, so we covered it.
  • He didn't say a word about improving bus service or meeting his legal requirement to build 30 miles of protected bus lanes this year, despite New York City buses being among the slowest in the nation and whose customer base is mostly working-class New Yorkers. (City Hall didn't hand out any candy on that before the speech, so we covered that, too.)

Gothamist also found the speech "sparse." Yet for some reason, Transportation Alternatives didn't seem to have a problem with the fact that Vision Zero wasn't mentioned at all. How's this non-confrontational approach working out for ya?:

In other news:

  • The best story of the day was Gothamist's scoop that the MTA's fancy new "open gangway" trains can't run on express tracks, which is a colossal failure.
  • Gothamist followed up our story on last-mile warehouses.
  • It turns out that the 50-year-old man who died by falling under a subway car was not "surfing," but merely slipped while running to catch a train. (NYDN)
  • The Post ran its latest terribly reported and error-filled story on how congestion pricing is unfair to Staten Islanders who teach in the toll zone of Manhattan, which we've shown number fewer than 150 people.
  • The BBC took a deep dive on whether drivers will ever be able to quit cars.
  • And, oddly, City and State looked at people our local politicians would never want to share a joint with.

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