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Train travel versus autos

August 16, 2009

Re: "A tough sell for public transit," Aug. 5:

I share David Lazarus' enthusiasm for the fast Shinkansen trains in Japan. But he is too pessimistic on the American railgoer. I think we will gladly abandon our addiction to cars if given a chance.

Look at all the non-drivers on the Orange bus line in the San Fernando Valley. Look at how we voted for rail bonds in the last few elections. We love rail.

Despite the slowness, rail travel on virtually all the Amtrak routes is up. We would happily hop on a train to Las Vegas or San Francisco or even New York if one were available. Who wants to drive all that way? In fact, who wants to put up with the stupid rules at the airline check-in?

Americans aren't that much different from Europeans or anyone. People love to ride trains, period.

Al Sheahen

Sherman Oaks

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Duplicating the mass transit systems of Europe and Japan is unrealistic in the U.S. due to geography and the 100 years of designing our urban areas with the automobile as top priority.

We are too spread out. Like it or not, we have a lot of roads; let's use them smarter. Develop and implement power-source alternatives for vehicles. Use computer and GPS technology to enable auto-pilot driving on freeways to ease traffic. Fund it with a big tax on gas that would also leverage market forces.

Now, if we could just lock Big Oil in a closet until it's done.

Blair S. Paulsen

San Diego

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