Shock and dismay are descriptive of how we at Santa Fe Railway feel toward "The Yuppie Hobos" (by Nikki Finke, Dec. 17). The article glorifies a phenomenon that is both illegal and dangerous, and sets a bad example to youths by sending them the message that it is all right to break the law.
Railroad police, who are educated, trained and sworn peace officers in California, encounter transients, illegal aliens, criminals, railroad buffs and "yuppie hobos" often. When these people are merely found trespassing, an information card is filled out and those people are escorted from Santa Fe property.
Climbing aboard a train is another story that is best summed up by our assistant chief of railroad police in Los Angeles when he says, "Ride a train, go to jail." During the first 10 months of 1987, our officers apprehended more than 7,000 trespassers or train riders on our 11,500-mile system. (That figure does not include illegal aliens.)
Some are not as fortunate. Railroad police records are filled with people such as the joy-riding man, a professional with a wife and children, who would hop freight trains on the weekends and ride to a pre-arranged location where his wife would pick up him and his male companions. One day he tripped while trying to board a moving freight train and his legs were severed below the hips. Then there was the case last summer of the illegal aliens who were suffocated in a closed boxcar in Texas. There are scores of examples of other transient riders who have been injured or killed every year while hopping freight trains.
THOMAS C. BUCKLEY
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe