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Canton, Edmondson NIMBYs

To the nice folks who don't like the Red Line surface rail plan, the protesters from Edmondson Avenue on the west and Boston Street on the southeast, the ones who booed the governor's endorsement of the proposal yesterday: You live in a city. Get over it.

Most cities have decent mass transit operations. Go to Philly. Go to Boston. Go to San Francisco. Visit New York or Chicago. They have elevated trains, they have surface rail, they have subways; some never did away with their trolleys. A subway across Baltimore? I agree: That would be preferable, and the old guys with bowlers and big moustaches -- city fathers of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century -- should have built one. But they were a little distracted by fin-de-siecle celebrations and they ran out of money rebuilding downtown Baltimore after the Great Fire of 1904. So it didn't happen, and that's unfortunate. So we don't have a cross-town subway. We don't have a cross-town anything, except buses. More and more people need to be using mass transit, especially in the city. We should have a light rail line from North Charles Street to South Charles Street, too.

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My column today is an endorsement of the government's cash for clunkers program, which gets gas guzzlers off the road and spurs sales in a recession. But, even with most drivers converting from trucks and SUVs to fuel-efficient cars, consider this humbling statistic from an Associated Press analysis: "America will be using nearly 72 million fewer gallons of gasoline a year because of the program, based on the first quarter-million vehicles replaced. U.S. drivers go through that amount of gas every 4 1/2 hours, according to the Department of Energy."

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