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State of Transportation in Los Angeles Area

May 05, 1987

You are to be congratulated for the series on traffic in Southern California. You did a masterful job researching the subject and putting it together in a very understandable way. You then reached the wrong conclusion.

Traffic congestion is not the end-problem you think it is. Instead, it is one of many symptoms of the real problem, which is mobility , or rather the growing lack of it. Masses of humans in growing numbers are trying to get around Southern California each day and are finding it more expensive and more difficult to do so.

What the articles have shown is that by placing our entire transportation faith in highways and streets we have achieved the exact opposite of our hoped-for goals. The problem is ironic because this same pattern has been repeated in virtually every city in America.

Freeways and cars, the lesson tells us, are the most inefficient means of urban transport. Therefore, to begin finding a solution to the mobility problem is to turn our attention to more efficient means of transporting humans. Clearly the provision of more and more space for autos merely intensifies the symptom, which is more and more congestion.

The construction of the subway, more than 50 years late, is the beginning of that solution because this is currently the most efficient technology for moving people. However, the very late start is what we will have to pay for because we cannot recapture the billions misspent on freeways, and the costs of basic construction will only continue to rise. The irony is that we were warned about that more than 35 years ago, but no one was listening.

ROBERT A. RAMSAY

Arcadia

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