Breaking the Transit Cartel

Today, Streetsblog followed the New York Times in running an astonishing expose on the newest cartel to move in. Unlike most cartels, these guys have both power and political influence in their vast network:

Through a complex network spanning at least four continents, [Gil] Peñalosa funnels innovations from one city to the next. Formerly the parks commissioner of Bogotá, Colombia — where his brother, Enrique, is known as the godfather of “Bus Rapid Transit” — Peñalosa is the mastermind behind the “Mexico City hop,” an intellectual property route whereby Latin American BRT cartels reach massive North American markets with an unslakeable thirst for surface transit improvements.

OK. Obvious parody. Yet when you read the New York Times article on the subject, you can see why satire can come so easily:

In the process, she has run up a travel bill of about $35,000, according to city records. And in some cases, Ms. Sadik-Khan has allowed outsiders, including transportation advocacy groups, to help foot the bill.

So, yes, she did what any professional of a certain caliber does, visiting example projects and speaking at conventions. Sadik-Khan is a professional, not a politician, so issues of working with advocacy groups and going to conferences are likewise professional.  Admittedly, the Times is just reporting on something they found, but the conspiratorial tone over $470 airline flights and a total expense less than the Mayor’s monthly transportation costs is simply whacked. The Times has been playing to the highway set so desperately that they’ve lost credibility. Decent reporting, I suppose, but the creeping editorial is pathetic.