“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee”

Smoking gun e-mails have now been produced that definitively tie the September 2013 closure of approach lanes at the George Washington Bridge from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the office of Governor Christie. They additionally provide concrete evidence that the action, taken by Christie appointees at the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey (PANYNJ) who have since resigned, was politically motivated retribution against Fort Lee and its mayor, Mark Sokolich (D).

The irony, of course, is that if the PANYNJ had, in fact, taken any kind of traffic study, which they falsely claimed to have in the aftermath of the incident, those of us who believe that driving cars into cities ought to be more difficult and/or expensive would have applauded the move. And if the number of toll lanes assigned to Fort Lee had been reduced from three to two instead of three to one, they might have been subtle enough to get away with their malfeasance, at least for longer. Instead, the Governor of New Jersey has been exposed as a thug who sanctions the abuse of government power for petty vengeance, and allows transportation policy to be set by a combination of caprice and windshield perspective rather than need.

Meanwhile, even rid of the New Jersey appointees directly responsible for the closure of the Fort Lee toll lanes, PANYNJ is still fairly useless from a transportation reform perspective. The Lincoln Tunnel Exclusive Bus Lane (XBL) is arguably the most successful and efficient transit facility in the country, but the XBL runs eastbound-only from 6:00a to 10:00a on weekdays, with not even a hint that PANYNJ might build on that success by creating a westbound XBL in the evening. Or implement any kind of bus priority at any other time. Or at any other crossing under its jurisdiction. For Greater Philadelphians who travel up the Turnpike of Anger by bus, who still number thousands of passengers daily, this is a big deal and a big problem; it’s far worse for daily commuters at the PANYNJ crossings. And with Greyhound, Peter Pan, their subsidiaries BoltBus and Yo!, Megabus, and the resurgent Chinatown carriers all looking like they’re here to stay, and Amtrak fares likely to remain out of reach for the bottom tiers of the market, this is one New York problem that strikes home in Philadelphia.

If PANYNJ were to ever get wise and implement 24/7 bidirectional bus priority lanes at the Lincoln Tunnel, or any kind of improved bus approach to the George Washington Bridge, it’s probable that the concerns of us here in Philadelphia wouldn’t have had the slightest bit of influence on the decision-makers. But you’d better believe that, when they do, we’ll care. Meanwhile, we have the unfortunate task of anticipating a third of our region’s transportation decisions being made by a temperamental bully for the next three years. Oh, rapture.

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    1. The ongoing PATCO escalator!fail is a symptom of the same disease, though! Because any reasonable political accountability system would have started firing people long ago. But in this case, the electeds don’t give a shit, because they think Real ‘Muricans drive, while only the Socialists and the Poors take trains. Seriously, New Jersey is being run by a Governor who has said that the best part of his job is having the Lincoln Tunnel closed for his benefit. If I made this stuff up, you’d rightly accuse me of making a Strawman Caricature of Windshield Perspective Politicians.

      1. I like your style. And of course I completely agree. The fact that 60% of the people in my state voted for him is embarrassing and scary. Like if you talk like a neighborhood asshole, it’s a golden ticket to reelection, no matter how partisan or horrible your actual political moves are.

          1. Well, it’s not your job to represent the best interests of nearly nine million people in one of the most socioeconomically diverse state in the country. I like to imagine that being in that position holds a slightly heavier responsibility than being a blogger and Twitter personality. Though the way reality is panning out, it might hold even less responsibility. At least on Twitter when you say something horrible, there’s a chance you’ll feel bad afterward.

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