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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Only Light Rail Can Conquer Congestion

June 05, 2003

Light rail can -- and must -- carry the load (June 1). I'm an example of its worth. I do arbitrations in Los Angeles and live in Long Beach. I get to the job in an hour of smooth riding on the Blue Line; I spend the time reading the file and preparing for the hearing. Average time in rush-hour traffic is over an hour, and one arrives feeling nervous and hassled, besides burning gas and paying for parking.

Meanwhile, our freeways are now almost gridlocked morning and evening. Buses can't solve the problem. Even if we could put enough of them on the road they would still be spewing pollution and joining all those cars that continue to add to the congestion. Light rail is off the road, and the more trains we run, the more cars are taken off. If we keep the faith, we will have an ever-increasing ridership as congestion motivates more motorists to switch.

I don't understand the claim that light rail caters to the elite. The riders who fill the Blue Line trains are at least 75% minorities, and they appear to be middle- or low-income earners. The only solution to gridlock is light rail, and it's long past time to commit ourselves to it, expand it and make it work.

Robert Kilpatrick

Long Beach

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