The Red Line was no boondoggle

The purpose of the Red Line was not to create jobs but to help people get to work

Several letters to the editor have claimed that the only reason to build the Red Line was to create jobs ("Killing the Red Line won't save money," Aug. 16).

The primary purpose of the Red Line extension of Baltimore's light rail was not to create jobs but to help people get to work. Therefore the ultimate test of whether it was worthwhile should be measured in terms of how many people would have used it.

It is easy to speculate that the Red Line would have been a boondoggle if it had been built. But the last time the sole surviving light rail line extended its services to Hunt Valley and BWI, in the late 1990s, it had a 35 percent increase in ridership despite the fact that Maryland at that time had a 50 pecent fare box recovery rule, the highest in the nation.

There were naysayers then claiming that the extensions to the light rail would only result in 750 additional riders. They were wrong and subsequent developments proved it.

There is every reason to believe that the Red Line would have been similarly profitable, particularly since the Red Line would have included the Social Security Administration as its western terminus.

I pity the poor functionary in the Hogan-Rahn administration who has been delegated the task of formulating a game plan for improving Baltimore's transit by the end of the year with no money that anyone would take seriously.

But whoever gets stuck with this thankless task should focus on getting people to work rather than providing work for the concrete and asphalt companies that are currently engaged in a food fight on your letters page.

Paul R. Schlitz Jr., Baltimore

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