Thursday’s Headlines: Hey, Employers, Stop Paying People to Drive!

File photo: Gersh Kuntzman
File photo: Gersh Kuntzman

So much for the “psychological barrier.”

The other day, Mayor de Blasio repeated the tired old myth that people are reluctant to take transit because of the fear of disease. Put aside that transit isn’t a major COVID-19 vector (as Sam Schwartz’s firm reminded us Tuesday in a study we mentioned in these pages). The main reason subway and bus numbers are down, of course, is that so few commuters have offices to which to commute.

But on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal revealed another huge key reason why many returning Manhattan commuters are still not taking spotless subways and less-than-sardine-can buses: because some companies have stopped subsidizing transit commutes and are now paying employees to drive, to park, or to take car services.

It should already be illegal to explicitly subsidize driving, but it’s downright obscene to do it when the roadways are already starting to get congested and as we battle a respiratory disease.

If ever there was a time for Mayor de Blasio to ride transit himself, as a show of support, this is it. Yes, in the past, he’s dismissed doing so as “cheap symbolism,” but cheap symbolism is better than rich corporations paying people to drive.

In other news:

  • Lots of outlets had a field day with the announcement that the Department of Investigation had arrested a city employee for using a fake placard. We emphasized the singular nature of the arrest — “We got … one!” — while the Daily News mentioned how little the de Blasio administration cares about placard abuse. The Post played it straight. NBC4 played up the seven-year sentence if the Housing Preservation and Development assistant commissioner is found guilty.
  • Council Member Peter “Business Lives Matter!” Koo has lawyered up, getting Meyer Suozzi to write a letter to the Department of Transportation demanding a delay in the Flushing busway (a .3-mile stretch that was supposed to be built by now). (QNS)
  • The Times offered full team coverage on what it obviously considers essential news for its readership: the return of indoor dining. There was a main story, and a sidebar about New Jersey’s experiences. There was even a second sidebar that reminded us of that old Klingon proverb, “Pizza inside is a dish best served cold.” (The Post focused on Mayor de Blasio’s preference for outdoor dining — as if he’s a weirdo because of it. Our recommendation, Mr. Mayor? Try the ropa vieja at Elora’s.)
  • This new West Side pier is peerless. (NYDN, NY Times)
  • The Staten Island Advance once again gave plenty of valuable column inches to a pro-car zealot (not columnist Tom Wrobleski this time, even!) who claims kids on bikes are the real road danger on the Rock. Reminder: 68 cyclists, 376 pedestrians and 2,181 motorists were injured in car crashes last year alone. The danger is not a random kid on a bike. The danger is car drivers.
  • Oh, and driveway paintball gunmen, too! (NY Post)
  • OMG! Architect John Massengale is on TikTok!
  • Reminder: it’s Rocktober.
  • And, finally, Streetfilms offered a preview of the Crescent Street protected bike lane in Queens starting to come together: