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Steps to help ease traffic congestion

January 13, 2007

Re "Going nowhere on the Westside," column, Jan. 7

Faced with impossible traffic in his home area, Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky's suggested solution is one-way streets. Unfortunately, the more roads we build, the more freeways we widen, the more one-way streets we create, the more they invite people to drive.

From every perspective, we need to decrease the number of cars on the road. The long-term solution, which is to greatly strengthen our mass transit system, would take years to complete.

But a short-term solution, which could be a big help, would be to institute a small gasoline tax and use the proceeds to make the entire Metropolitan Transportation Authority system free of charge.

At first blush, that may sound very expensive. But the MTA's published budget shows that only about $250 million of its $3-billion income is generated by rider fares. A fairly small tax would pay for the lost revenue, discourage people from driving and encourage them to take trains and buses.

It's difficult to measure how successful such a plan would be, but when you're sitting stalled in your car for 10 minutes in one spot, isn't it worth a try?


South Pasadena


Yaroslavsky has held political office representing the Westside for more than 30 years, yet he tries to act like an ordinary citizen as he complains about being stuck in traffic.

This problem didn't erupt overnight, and it was his responsibility to prevent it from happening in the first place. Yet his feeble solution is to tell his secretary to "schedule nothing for him west of the 405 unless he can wrap things up by 2:30 p.m." That's the same hopeless strategy we all use, but without the luxury of a tax-paid secretary. And just why isn't he riding the bus like he tells everyone else to do?

Albert Einstein wisely forewarned: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."

Precisely, and it's time for new and bold leadership in the way of a traffic commissioner to develop a comprehensive master plan to mobilize our citizenry into the future. Peter Ueberroth's name stands alone for this no-nonsense job of enormous responsibility.



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