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Looking at County's Transportation Needs

August 28, 1988

Both Dana Reed and The Times deserve a hearty thanks for bringing a little-recognized yet critical situation into better focus for the public ("Look at Orange County Transit," Aug. 21).

As a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee since 1984, it became clear to me six months into my first term that neither Orange County's nor the state's transportation crisis is going to be confronted effectively until we in government put someone in charge.

Unlike the private sector, where a business owner knows that he had better produce and sell his products if he wants to survive and succeed, nobody in government finds themselves going to bed at night worrying that they may lose it all unless they deliver.

The dozens of different transportation commissions, agencies, boards and committees at every level of government have one thing in common: overlapping authority and vague responsibility for our transportation crisis here in Orange County. No single agency is in charge.

Even if these governmental bodies never worked at cross-purposes, their geographic and constituent special interests alone create impossible obstacles to solving our gridlock crisis.

Until this is remedied, until we clearly affix responsibility and authority, the transportation crisis we're faced with cannot be met head-on. It can't, no matter how much money becomes available or how many committees, agencies or governments hold meetings.

I have studied the various approaches to merging these transportation entities into some kind of joint-powers authority for Orange County, and I and some of my colleagues are now prepared to introduce legislation in December when the new legislative session begins.

First, however, the specifics of that legislation, how the authority will function and its scope, must be the product of an agreement or consensus of our locally elected government bodies, with advice from those non-elected interested entities presently involved. I look to the Board of Supervisors to provide the needed leadership.

After reading Dana Reed's article and learning of the interest of some of the supervisors and others, I am more optimistic than ever that we are all now pointed in the right direction.

GIL FERGUSON

Assemblyman, 70th District

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