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CenterLine Boon or Bust for Orange County?

June 09, 2002

Re "CenterLine Would Be a Track Star, Study Says," May 31:

Opponents of the CenterLine light-rail plan in Irvine are missing the point. Light rail attracts business and housing development because it is inflexible. Investors know that a rail station operating today will be there 50 years from now. No one will build more than a newspaper vending machine at a bus stop because the bus route might disappear next month.

Those who argue that monorails are cheaper should investigate the system a private consortium is building in Las Vegas. It will have passenger capacity comparable to CenterLine's but is budgeted at $150 million per mile, versus $85 million per mile for CenterLine. A cheaper system is possible, but by that reasoning, the cheapest thing to do is nothing.

Orange County can no longer afford to do nothing about rail mass transit. Opponents have a chance of winning at the ballot box if the vote is held before the Gold Line from Pasadena to downtown Los Angeles is up and running. That rail line will make it obvious that well-designed light rail can be a great success.

Richard Schumacher

Dallas

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The Orange County Transportation Authority first tried to sell CenterLine as a solution to "traffic congestion." When its environmental impact study failed to support the plan, OCTA changed the focus to "improving mobility."

OCTA avoids defining mobility in its public relations efforts because CenterLine will make mobility worse for bus riders. It will lengthen their travel time because existing bus routes will be replaced with feeder buses that will force riders to transfer to the CenterLine. Passengers will then have to transfer to another feeder bus to reach their destination.

Cal State Fullerton, a vocal CenterLine supporter, has generated an economic forecast study for CenterLine. The same kinds of studies were generated by airport supporters who wanted to convert the El Toro Marine base into an international airport.

Unfortunately, OCTA Chairman Todd Spitzer, who fought to protect Irvine from planes at El Toro, is now leading efforts to build a rail line through Irvine neighborhoods. He wants Irvine residents to believe that a train outside their bedroom windows would be good for them. Neither planes nor trains are good neighbors.

John Kleinpeter

Newport Beach

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Every day there are declarations for or against toll roads, trains, airports and freeways. We now have a wonderful opportunity to create a transportation infrastructure that will serve our present and future needs. The old models of transportation are obsolete. Science has learned how to neutralize gravity, construct underwater pressure tunnels, create high-speed monorail systems and computerize trucks and cars so they can safely reach their destinations.

Effective transportation systems are vital for economic and human growth. We live in a world of unlimited potentialities, yet we keep building obsolete methods of transporting people and goods. Now is the time to draft transportation systems that are safe, effective and can change to meet future needs.

Geofrey Layng

San Clemente

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