* Re "Bus Riders Union Calls Pasadena Rail Line 'Racist,' " Jan. 29: Eric Mann of the Bus Riders Union says the Pasadena light rail is "racist"? The Pasadena Blue Line corridor is 66% minority, and it's this corridor's residents who wanted the quality and speed of light-rail service enough to get their own agency to build it.
Light rail racist? The Long Beach Blue Line corridor, the most successful light rail line in the country at over 50,000 riders per day, is 90% minority. And why is L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan proposing busways modeled after a poor Third World city, when only light rail can provide the capacity our traffic congestion requires and the comfort our world-class city deserves?
How could the construction of a rail line that services the heavily ethnic communities of Chinatown, Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Highland Park be considered racist? As a person of color, I am offended by such an accusation. What Mann seems to really be saying is that lower-income, working-class communities should not share the benefits of modern, efficient and environmentally considerate urban transportation technology.
Riordan and Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky have exploited the Bus Riders Union, Latinos and all L.A. residents through their manipulation of transportation funding. Yaroslavsky's 1998 Prop. A, which won, prohibits the construction of any new subway projects, such as segments to the Eastside and Mid-City areas. However, since "segment 3" to the San Fernando Valley is already started, it will be completed as planned, with the mayor's and Yaroslavsky's backing. Therefore, the San Fernando Valley can go on to "segment 4," which is using the Burbank-Chandler line for light rail or, as this article clearly demonstrates, a high-speed busway. This concept has failed miserably, with the Harbor transit way. In addition, express bus service does not bring in the revenue that local service does; the poor inner-city riders subsidize the wealthy express riders.
I have nothing against the San Fernando Valley getting its fair share; however, I am very angry at how the mayor has done this on the backs of the Latino community. He has killed the subway project to the Eastside, a long-time area that has used public transportation. There are vacant lots in the Eastside, reminders of broken promises, and still the mayor proposed that the Valley get its high-speed busway first.
Lastly, what gives Mann the right to speak for the Latino community? What gives him or anybody that right who is not voted into that position?