Thursday’s Headlines: The Port Authority’s Climate Strip-Tease Edition

Rick Cotton talking to reporters on Oct. 21 at the Port Authority board meeting.

From the assignment desk: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will hold a “virtual event” today to announce that it will “formally adopt a goal of achieving net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050” and “formally adopt the Biden administration’s newly announced target of reducing direct emissions by 50 percent by 2030” ahead of the United Nation’s COP 26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. It promised “a new set of initiatives” that will reduce its carbon footprint even further — but likely only as an agency.

It’s laudable to reduce your own pollution. But it would be great to hear that the toll- and parking-addicted authority is seeking ways to reduce the number of vehicles using its facilities — a far greater source of carbon for our atmosphere than its own emissions. It would be even better if the bi-state agency would announce that it is leading a regional effort of transportation agencies to tackle climate change, as some have advised.

The PANYNJ said the other day that in September its four bridges and two tunnels “handled a total of 9.9 million eastbound vehicles, just 3.5 percent below September 2019 levels, which was 10.29 million vehicles.” Even more so, Executive Director Rick Cotton reported to his board on Oct. 21, the vehicle traffic on the PANYNJ crossings was up 1.1 percent in week of Oct. 11-17 compared to October 2019, a portent of the carpocalypse to come. Meanwhile, PATH train ridership is down 56 percent from September 2019. The only bright spot, from the carbon point of view, is that there are still 40 percent fewer passengers using the Port Authority’s airports than before the pandemic (so presumably there are fewer flights).

So, what is the Port Authority going to do to curtail the sources of those emissions in New York and New Jersey, e.g., to incentivize public transit use and discourage car driving? We’re all ears!

In other news:

  • Two years after allegedly driving drunk and leaving the scene of a Cypress Hills crash, a Brooklyn man finally is facing manslaughter charges for striking and killing a Staten Island father of three who was walking in a crosswalk, the Daily News reported. What you won’t read in that story, however, is that the alleged killer was only arrested and had his driver’s license revoked by a judge yesterday, the Brooklyn district attorney told Streetsblog. Moreover, the DA wouldn’t disclose the suspect’s license-plate number, so Streetsblog couldn’t check if the driver incurred violations or drove recklessly from the time of the crash until his arrest. This is a guy who the DA says had body work done on the car in order to cover his tracks.
  • CityLab used our annual Halloween bloodbath (kids are three times more likely to die in traffic violence on that day than on any other) as the peg to pitch seven steps for pedestrian safety.
  • The New York Times Opinion section glorified the systems work of MIT data scientist Nancy Leveson under an unfortunate headline: “What’s the Best Way To Stop Tragic Accidents?” The editorial-page editors ought to read Transportation Alternatives’s head writer Jessie Singer’s forthcoming book, “There Are No Accidents,” now on pre-order at Simon & Schuster.
  • The Brooklyn Eagle quoted Department of Transportation Commish “Hammering Hank” Gutman stroking the NIMBYs of Sunset Park in a piece on the demise of the proposed Eighth Avenue bike lane.
  • Surprise! The NYPD was an “offensive” place for a female chief, ruled a judge. (NYDN)
  • The state trooper who, according to Gov. Hochul, several times used his squad car as a battering ram was indicted for the murder of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl in one of those incidents. (NBC, NYDN)
  • The second installment of amNY’s five-part series on the new grocery-delivery apps and their effect on our lives focused on the cost to consumers.
  • The Daily News gets in on the hunger-striking taxi drivers story.
  • ICYMI: Ex-Sergeants Benevolent Association prez Ed Mullins thinks that lobbing misogynistic and homophobic tweets constituted an important part of his job. (Gothamist)
  • Gothamist profiled our first “walking mayor,” Brooklyn’s William Gaynor, who daily strode a seven-mile round trip to City Hall starting in 1910. “There’s no excuse for any man with an office within three miles of his home not walking back and forth,” said he.
  • Hat tip to the MTA’s best friend, Guse of the Newsuh, for noting that yesterday was Subway Day, the 117th anniversary of our underground’s debut. (Via Twitter)