The Times has been too quick to "derail" the Metro Rail project, most recently in Sam Hall Kaplan's otherwise excellent urban analysis (Jan. 11).
What is really happening? David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget is trying to raid the Highway Trust Fund in order to pay for other pet projects of the current Administration (MX, old battleships, etc.)
Congress approved a 5-cent gasoline tax for the Highway Trust Fund in 1982; a billion dollars is already in the fund. Twenty percent of this trust fund money is allocated for public transportation. The money for Metro Rail is there quite separate from the operating budget of the federal government.
Los Angeles must preserve functional efficiency in its central area by taking traffic off surface streets. More than 130 cities around the world are doing this with subway systems; we are just 50 years out of step! Los Angeles has an additional problem with its mountain passes at Cahuenga and Sepulveda. San Fernando Valley residents participate in the slow strangulation of the Hollywood Freeway each day. The Metro Rail starter line subway will come to their rescue by 1990.
Stockman's attempted rip-off must be repelled by our congressional delegation to stop the steady decline in Los Angeles' ability to move.