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Busways Instead of Rail Lines

September 06, 1998

* It dumbfounds me that James Moore and Robert Poole are so steeped in their anti-rail bias that they actually promote studying the conversion of the Green Line and MetroLink corridors to being busways ("The Future of L.A. Transit Just Might Be Via the Bus," Opinion, Aug. 30). Amazing!

While busways are less costly than a rail system, to be productive they must be grade-separated with costly improvements (bridges or undercrossings). Otherwise the buses are slowed by cross-traffic. And a busway can be the object of Not in My Back Yard resistance as much as a rail line. It is virtually certain any proposal to convert the Burbank-Chandler right of way that Moore and Poole mention to being a busway would be met with NIMBYism from the adjacent neighborhoods.

DANA GABBARD

President, Southern California

Transit Advocates, Los Angeles

* Jitneys may help solve transportation problems in the Los Angeles area, but their effectiveness will be limited to the local neighborhood level. Due to the immense sprawl of the Los Angeles region, the major bus routes with full-size buses will have to remain the foundation of the mass transit system if the bus, instead of rail or subway, is to be the transportation mode of the future.

Most people must eventually travel outside their neighborhood across town, and the jitney is not suitable for these cross-town jaunts. The difficulty with a bus-based transit system will be the need to create bus-only lanes on surface streets. To do this may mean eliminating lanes currently used by cars. A difficult proposition in this car-based city.

Otherwise, the time of bus trips on surface streets will increase with the overall increase of city traffic, and buses may not prove an attractive alternative to car travel. I currently see an increase in my travel time as my bus sits in traffic in my commute through West Los Angeles.

MATTHEW HETZ

Los Angeles

* The column epitomizes the "silly season" depths to which the debate over public transportation has descended. Rip up the Green Line, pave over MetroLink? Entice commuters off the freeways with an armada of sooty, lumbering motor coaches?

Buses of course are vital to any overall network. But the region has had one of the nation's largest bus fleets for decades. Does anyone really consider that problematic achievement a substitute for a working rapid transit system?

Los Angeles has already blundered once with the wholesale abandonment of 1,100 miles of Red Car routes. How many more mistakes will Southern California be allowed to make?

DONALD A. STANWOOD

Costa Mesa

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