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Media Watch

Wednesday’s Headlines: No Times Like This Times Edition

Did the metro editors at the Times have drinks with their New York Post counterparts last week? Plus other news.

Main photo: Josh Katz

Did the metro editors at the Times have drinks with their New York Post counterparts last week? Has an uneasy anti-congestion pricing alliance been forged?

The other day, we noticed this post from Times reporter Bernard Mokam in an express bus support group:

We thought this odd, given how few people who make under $50,000 commute by car into the central business district. According to the MTA's congestion pricing environmental assessment, it's only 16,000 people, or roughly 1 percent of all the drivers who commute into the CBD. In addition, people who make $50,000 or less will only pay full price for the first 10 days per month; after that, they get 50 percent off.

Given those numbers, a reporter seeking to do a story about the impact of congestion pricing would do better talking to wealthy drivers, who can certainly afford to pay their fair share (or, frankly, a fraction of it). Or the reporter could talk to all the bus passengers (whose salaries are indeed closer to the $50,000 target) about how surface transit is rendered awful because of all the cars in the way.

But either of those stories would be favorable to the goals of congestion pricing — though wealthy readers don't want to read about how their driving might be fettered in service of the goal of unburdening the rest of us.

Or, of course, I could just have it dead wrong. I reached out to Mokam and he told me, "I am not focusing my story on lower-income drivers." Whew.

Still, the debate — or, more accurately, the existence of the debate — over congestion pricing continues to infuriate many of us (including Komanoff). One hundred years of messaging by car manufacturers and their political enablers has inculcated a value system that simultaneously excuses the driver of the negative externalities of his driving and also shames anyone who questions it.

Indeed, one of the most reliable ways to get trolled on social media is point out that car drivers are, on average, richer than their transit-using neighbors. In fact, if we were advising Mr. Mokam, we'd point out that the trolling seems designed to hide all the driving being done by the richest among us behind a smokescreen of apparent concern for the less fortunate.

But we'll take the Times reporter at his word and look forward to his story.

In other news from a surprisingly slow Tuesday:

  • Once again, the Times takes a look at a very common practice — seniors using bikes to get around and improve their lives — and makes it all sound so exotic. Hello, Gray Lady — we're here for you, if you'd just read Streetsblog a bit more closely!
  • Bright lights, big city. (NYDN, Gothamist)
  • A car driver ran over a beloved eagle. (Gothamist)
  • Now subway crime is up. (NY Post)
  • And, finally, our friend at NYC Bike Lanes had a great takedown over the whole NYPD "dance squad" controversy:

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