Post Article on Bus Accidents was a Hatchet Job

IB ImageA group of striking Bus Operators and Maintainers were on the picket line outside a Brooklyn bus depot early one morning in December 2005 when a New York Post delivery truck dropped some bundles of the newspaper outside a still-shuttered store a couple of blocks away. The strikers saw an opportunity.

They didn’t want to read the Post for free. They wanted to torch it for a particularly anti-union series of headlines and editorials the right-wing paper had been publishing.

“We had ourselves a bonfire,” one of the strikers said afterwards. “I wouldn’t read that rag.”

Bus Operators could be forgiven for wanting to put a match to the Post last Sunday (March 4) when it ran an unfair, irresponsible and strikingly shameful example of sensational journalism. “MTA buses were in more than 21k collisions in just 3 years,” the headline stated.

The reporters then described a series of serious accidents and quoted two ambulance-chasing lawyers about the hazards posed by buses – and by extension, by Bus Operators. Their false narrative was that MTA buses are careening down city streets on a wholesale basis, wreaking havoc and causing property damage, serious injuries and death. It’s simply not true. But they downplayed or ignored information that indicated anything different.

TWU Local 100 gave the reporters a statement pointing out that NYC Transit Bus Operators have an excellent safety record, according to federal data. In fact, they have the second-best safety rate among the largest bus operations in the country. Only Seattle did better, according to federal data. The Post reporters chose not to include the union statement. Why? Because it would disprove the entire premise of their story.

“The New York Post should apologize to our dedicated Bus Operators for the stunningly unbalanced article on bus collisions,” Local 100 President Tony Utano said in a Letter to the Editor. “This article was itself a total wreck.” To be honest, The Daily News had some editors that pushed through some unfavorable headlines and coverage during the strike, which I wrote about as the News’ transit reporter. Other staffers at the News like Juan Gonzalez and myself pushed back. We did the best we could to tilt the scales back towards the workers. This isn’t an indictment of an entire industry or even everyone at the Post. But if you are ever tempted to by their Sunday edition, remember this hatchet job and save yourself the $1.50.