Air pollution and traffic congestion are two of the worst problems in the San Gabriel Valley. Both of these problems could be considerably lessened by a good commuter rail system.
The Los Angeles County Transportation Commission, along with transportation authorities from Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego counties, have been negotiating to purchase over 200 miles of rights-of-way from the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Co. to establish a Southern California commuter rail network (Times, April 27).
Santa Fe is asking $1.3 billion for their rights-of-way, a price almost equivalent to the stock market value of the whole company.
This price is unfair to residents who need a commuter rail system and taxpayers who will help foot the bill. The rights-of-way represent only 2% of Santa Fe's total route miles. Santa Fe is asking almost four times as much as was paid to Southern Pacific for similar commuter rights-of-way, and Southern Pacific bargained hard. The commuter system will still allow Santa Fe to run its freight routes without degradation of service.