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When All Roads Lead to Public Transit

May 25, 2003

Re "Freeway Builders Run Into Wall of Politics and Protests," May 23: "If we don't do these [freeway] expansions, what's going to happen?" asks Hasan Ikhrata, director of transportation planning and policy for the Southern California Assn. of Governments. This article was a litany of government officials throwing up their hands on how to handle growing transportation pressures in Southern California. Yet tucked away near the end was one paragraph summarizing current light-rail projects that are under construction.

If freeway expansions aren't viable, yet current light-rail projects are successfully underway -- and existing light-rail lines are hugely successful -- why don't transportation planners draw the logical conclusion: If you can't build freeways, why not build light-rail and busway projects instead? They are no more costly than freeways, are much less disruptive, can handle far more people and are environmentally friendly.

Peter H. Fuad

Glendale

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Does anyone else see what I see -- a "pave over Los Angeles mentality" before we build a world-class public transportation system that includes subway and all other modes? Richard Katz, co-chair of the San Fernando Valley Transportation Strike Force, sees a "clash between good engineering and a public-oriented solution." I see embedded "highwaymen" pushing bad engineering at the expense of a "public first" solution.

George McGinnis

Glendale

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On Thursday, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted against widening the Long Beach Freeway, a move that could be seen as support for wider use of public transportation. On the same day, it voted to increase transit fares, eliminate transfers and cut some bus service, a move that could be seen as an attempt to force people back into their cars (May 23).

The MTA has no policy but responds to those citizens who are most influential. The NIMBYs along the freeways have a lot more clout than folks forced onto public transit. How can a board with such broad responsibilities take such a narrow view?

David M. Perry

Los Angeles

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One fact stood out in your article about the MTA board meeting: Its daily ridership "surged to more than 300,000 higher than it is today" when the MTA temporarily lowered fares to 50 cents for several years in the 1980s. Is it possible that the board members are unaware of the pollution prevented by those 300,000 people riding public transportation? We all benefit when any of us uses public transportation instead of automobiles. Public transportation is a public good and should be paid for by all, not just those who use it.

Joanne Nagy

Granada Hills

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