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Opinion on trains goes off track

October 15, 2008

Re "Weakest Metrolink," Opinion, Oct. 10

James E. Moore II is up to his old tricks again, coming up with more nonsensical arguments about why public transit, especially trains, are bad for Southern California.

In response to last month's tragic accident, Moore says that "the benefits are not worth the risk" and that "it is time to pull the plug" on Metrolink. He argues that "Metrolink actually makes traffic conditions worse" and concludes his convoluted diatribe by stating that "we owe it to the injured and to the families of the dead" to eliminate all Metrolink rail service.

Using this same logic, why don't we close all our freeways to honor the injured and dead from the steady stream of serious traffic accidents?

Maybe Moore should talk to some of the thousands of commuters who ride Metrolink to and from their jobs every day to get their opinion of his proposal, which belongs back in the 1950s, when our leaders permitted the destruction of the region's interurban rail system.

Can you imagine what L.A. would be like today if we had maintained and improved this once magnificent system?

John Laue

Sunland

Moore claims that Metrolink trains should be scrapped because they are "neither safe nor cost-effective." Both his arguments are based on faulty logic.

Moore's first argument has to do with safety. He argues that the trains are unsafe, citing the recent Chatsworth crash. However, he fails to recognize that trains remain, on average, far safer than driving.

The subsequent argument -- that Metrolink is ineffective because it diverts less than 3% of traffic from adjacent freeways -- is also flawed. Although this may be true if you look at the freeway traffic for the entire day, Metrolink trains are concentrated during commuting hours. Moore states, quite correctly, that if Metrolink passengers drove their cars, there would be no perceptible change in congestion, but this is likely based on the assumption that the cars would be spread out evenly over 24 hours. If all these cars were added to the freeway during rush hour, there would be a very significant impact.

The only people who will benefit if train service is reduced are the oil companies and the auto manufacturers. The rest of us will have to put up with increased congestion, pollution and other problems.

Josh Chiang

Los Angeles

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