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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

MTA Mobility works out kinks of better system

The Sun's article on the Maryland Transit Administration's new mobility system was both damaging and irresponsible because of the facts that it omitted ('MTA Mobility transit has gone from bad to worse, users say." July 18).

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The article highlighted a series of heartbreaking stories in which the new paratransit system failed to pick up and transport customers.

Every one of these failures is heartbreaking to all of us - particularly to the extraordinary staff of MTA Mobility, many of whom have been working 18- to 20-hour days during this difficult transition period.

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The most unfortunate consequence of this sort of half- truth is that there are thousands of Mobility customers who are not having problems, but who will now begin to worry, or even panic, about the system they rely on.

That should not happen. The new system is well-thought-out, well-funded, well-staffed and well-run. It is in the process of becoming well-executed as the inevitable computer bugs, equipment malfunctions and rookie human errors inherent in its newness are resolved.

After five years of progressively worsening paratransit service, this administration arrived determined to improve MTA Mobility. With the aid of on-site consultants, mobility experts, representatives of the disabled community, the Maryland Disabilities Law Center and others, a new service model was developed. The design of this new model has received high praise from every expert in the industry who has reviewed it.

Implementing change, however, is difficult. The system operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It can't be shut down while computer systems are enhanced, serviced or upgraded. Approximately 2,400 trips have to be scheduled, routed and transported daily. And unlike fixed-route transit, these trips go to and from different locations every day.

The best new technology and the best-trained new people still need experience to perfect a service. That's what we are going through right now - a necessary and unavoidable transition to a new and better service.

The new system is just two weeks old. It will get better.

But even with all of the hurdles in transitioning to a new system, MTA Mobility has begun to achieve the same on- time performance level the prior contractor provided over the last six months.

Robert L. Flanagan

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Hanover

The writer is secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Expanding Route 32 protects the public

I congratulate the governor and the secretary of transportation for their efforts to widen Route 32, particularly from Route 108 to Interstate 70 ('Plan to add lanes divisive." July 20).

I hope the reconstruction will result in a limited access highway, like Route 29 in Howard County.

Forty years ago, Route 29 was similar to what Route 32 is like today, a two-lane highway with traffic lights and side roads giving access to entering traffic. Most of the accidents occurred at these intersections or because of vehicles passing in the oncoming traffic lane.

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Think what Route 29 would be like today if it had not been made a limited-access road.

Harold Kirkwood

Ellicott City

Downplaying report backing Bush's claim

On Page 17A of Sunday's paper, The Sun neatly buried an article from the New York Times News Service that stated two studies now seem to confirm that President Bush's intelligence concerning Iraqi attempts at acquiring uranium was accurate ("2 reports say Iraq sought uranium." July 18).

On Page 1A, The Sun ran stories on Chinese civil rights, an errant balloon and local civil issues about adding stories to existing houses. Yet the fact that the president may not be guilty of telling lies to the American people and was probably right about Iranian violations and intentions rated no better than Page 17A?

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Only a left-leaning, biased gang of propagandists could possibly so de-emphasize this important story.

Sadly, that's what The Sun has become. Every effort and expense is made to produce a biased, negative view of our government for partisan purposes.

Douglas B. Hermann

Parkville

Bush ignores issues crucial to blacks

As a black American who describes himself as a moderate, all I can take from the symbolism that is coming from President Bush is that he doesn't want my vote.

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On successive Martin Luther King Days, he has voiced his opposition to affirmative action. And he used a recess appointment to elevate a federal judge who once lessened the sentence of a cross burner.

What's the symbolism of those gestures?

The NAACP, for good or for bad, is an important symbol for the black community. By being the first president since Herbert Hoover to not speak at the NAACP conference, President Bush is symbolically telling me that he doesn't care to address the issues of my community.

I will remember those symbolic gestures on Nov. 2. The president, no matter his or her political leanings, should strive to be the president of all Americans, not just those factions that agree with the policies or rhetoric of the administration. But this doesn't seem to be the way this White House operates.

Kevin Blackwell

Catonsville

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President was right to avoid the NAACP

Let's assume I have family and friends over for a small reunion and we decide to build a campfire out back to roast marshmallows. I decide I want to challenge that fire to see just how long I can stand in it. Well I'm able to stand in it for about two seconds before I have to get out with my skin and hair intact.

I am fine, but man, it was hot. Was it courage I had for doing something so fraught with peril? Or just stupidity?

President Bush made the prudent decision in deciding not to jump into the fire - all the NAACP wanted was the sacrificial lamb it has so desired since its candidate suffered a gut-wrenching loss in the 2000 election ('Bush would have been "Lonesome George" at NAACP event." July 18).

Whose mind was the president going to change at that convention?

He would have needed a bullet-proof bubble from which to talk.

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The president's decision was not a lack of courage but a display of common sense.

Tim Moretz

Baltimore

Chimes" salaries outrage public, too

Rest assured, it is not, as the writer of the letter "Chimes' record of service stands up to scrutiny" ( July 17) suggests, just The Sun that is affronted by the excessive profits of the Chimes" executive management team.

Ordinary citizens are outraged, too.

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Ingrid Schoeler

Catonsville


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