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'Fresh Start for Transit'

October 28, 1987

Your editorial "Fresh Start for Transit" (Oct. 19) completely failed to even mention the one factor that is responsible for the overwhelming majority of transit problems here in Southern California--the refusal of public officials to use money already available to provide transportation to people who need it desperately.

RTD General Manager John Dyer's departure will solve nothing. He could be replaced by a transit genius, but unless that person has adequate money available to spend on public transit, nothing will improve.

The simple fact is that the money is there. The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission has ample funds in its coffers to augment and improve RTD service. However, the commission refuses to use its discretionary funds, and local cities, including Los Angeles, as well as members of the Board of Supervisors have also refused (with some exceptions) to do anything to help out the taxpayer who is dependent upon public transportation.

Certainly, the RTD needs to be improved and the recent legislation authored by Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) would have helped improve public transit by merging the two warring factions--RTD and LACTC.

We also deplore the gratuitous slap taken at the RTD drivers in your editorial. The problems you cited--absenteeism, improper licensing and drug use--have been well-publicized, but that doesn't mean that they exist in the manner the media says.

Absenteeism has been a problem for many years and most recently it was created by the RTD's refusal to maintain an adequate number of operators. The improper licensing was actually a very small number as compared to the original news media scare stories, and never was any threat to public safety. And the drug problem, which is certainly not limited to RTD bus drivers, had already been reduced dramatically.

Further, while labor relations could never be described as "harmonious," they have been far closer to that adjective during the past six years than ever before.

The people of this country voted to approve Proposition A because they wanted good, dependable, safe, affordable public transportation. They have paid their money--much of it sits idly by in the coffers of the LACTC--and they are not getting what they want, paid for and need.

Fresh starts are fine, but until someone gets on the case of the power-hungry politicians to spend the money that's already there, you will not see any improvement in public transportation.


General Chairman

United Transportation Union


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