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The Traffic Problem and Some Solutions

December 18, 1988

Like many harassed commuters, I read your Special Report on Transportation section ("Life in the Slow Lane," Dec. 11), with interest. I was particularly struck by the article on "Concrete Solutions." What an ironic title for this sad collection of defeatist, ineffectual, mealy-mouthed comments from some of the so-called top experts in Orange County's transportation community.

It is easy enough to predict that the situation will only get worse when you read the words of the people in charge of solving the problem. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Where are the people of vision? "Facing reality" and "being realistic" about the transportation crisis need not mean merely throwing up one's hands, sighing, raising taxes yet again and continuing to spend them in the relentless progress towards covering every square inch of the county's land surface with asphalt roadways.

What I and most of my friends would like to know is, what is so impossible about creating a system of commuter monorails down the middle of the existing freeways? They would not usurp any currently used lane space and would certainly contribute significantly toward both reducing air pollution and gasoline consumption while considerably easing the freeway jams. They are attractive, quiet and fast. Parking areas in malls or at park-and-ride lots would allow access by car.

Present public transportation--the buses--cannot hope to reduce the problem. They are confined to the same surface streets as are the masses of cars. I personally had the same experience with them as did Mark Landsbaum ("The Long Way Home") when I tried a similar experiment years ago while working on the OCTD advertising account. My 20-minute drive turned into a 2-hour marathon, which I hope never to repeat. It's significant to note that things haven't improved much in 10 years or so.

But can anyone doubt the potential of monorails? They've been in use at Disneyland for 35 years. I often suspect some sort of conspiracy or plot to subvert, when I note the consistent, passing dismissal of the idea as a utopian dream by the powers-that-be in Orange County's transportation sector.

However, I can imagine that it must be difficult to maintain vision when you can't even see around the truck in front of you on the Costa Mesa Freeway.

LINDA UMSTEAD

Newport Beach

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