Better transit is the only cure for congestion

In response to a new Texas Transportation Institute study showing that the Baltimore region's level of traffic congestion now exceeds the national average, Maryland Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan suggested that we need a more "balanced transportation system that recognizes that 90 percent of people travel in their personal automobiles" ("Traffic snarls in rush hour getting worse," Sept. 8).

To some people, that means more money for highways and less for public transportation.

However, a closer look at the study reveals that the issue is more complex.

If dealing with congestion is the goal of our region, and I suggest that it should be in light of our projected growth over the next 20 years, we should note that the study says transit services saved more than 1 billion hours of delay in 2002 in the 85 urban areas it surveyed. This represents a savings for commuters of $20 billion.

And despite the widespread perception that transit is not doing its share, the study also shows that in the Baltimore region, even with our meager mM-ilange of bus and rail lines, transit still manages to reduce delay by 18 million hours annually.

That figure puts us ahead of all urban areas our size except Atlanta and Seattle, both of which are aggressively expanding their transit networks.

Statewide, transit trips may represent a small share of total trips. But in the congested urban corridors, where it is impossible to provide additional highway capacity, transit is the only strategy available that could make a significant difference.

That is why the construction of the proposed Red Line from Woodlawn to Fells Point and the Green Line from Johns Hopkins Hospital to Morgan State University must be a top priority of the region's elected officials, business leaders, citizen groups and the Maryland Department of Transportation.

To do otherwise would be to doom the Baltimore region to an ever-escalating cycle of congestion and economic stagnation.

Donald C. Fry


The writer is president of the Greater Baltimore Committee.

Move to the country generates gridlock

The Sun's article "Traffic snarls in rush hour getting worse" (Sept. 8) blames the increasing congestion in the Baltimore area on the lack of public transportation.

Did it ever occur to any of the powers that be that rampant, uncontrolled development might play just a teensy part in this problem?

The hundreds of houses that have sprouted on thousands of acres of farmland, most of them populated by families with two or three cars, have led to traffic that has clogged small country roads and filtered into already overburdened main arteries.

The crux of the problem isn't too few buses and trains; it's too many people who insist on "being in the country" and thus destroying the vistas they seek and adding to the already-standstill traffic on main routes into the city.

As they inch their way more and more slowly every year into the metropolis, perhaps all those yuppies who have chosen to decimate the rural areas will finally realize that they are the problem.

Cooky McClung


9/11 happened on Bush's watch

At a town hall meeting in Iowa on Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney said that it's essential that voters make the right choice on Nov. 2, because if they don't, "then the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists ("Security that our nation felt before 9/11 still elusive," Sept. 9).

Since the most devastating attack ever on U.S. soil happened on the Bush administration's watch, for once I agree with Mr. Cheney.

Michael Ziegler


Vice President Dick Cheney recently warned that if Sen. John Kerry is elected, "then the danger is that we'll get hit again" by terrorists.

Strangely, it seems to have escaped Mr. Cheney's attention that the only recent hit on U.S. soil was on his and President Bush's watch.

John Venables


What will Cheney come up with next?

It's unbelievable that Vice President Dick Cheney should warn that another devastating terror attack is more likely if Sen. John Kerry is elected in November ("Cheney and Chechnya," editorial, Sept. 9).

How can an administration that ignored credible and specific warnings about al-Qaida's intent to hijack U.S. airplanes before Sept. 11, 2001, claim that a Kerry administration would do an even worse job?

What's next? Will Mr. Cheney tell us to vote for President Bush because Mr. Kerry would run up record deficits? Because a Kerry administration would result in the first net loss of jobs during a presidential term since Herbert Hoover?

Because more than a million more Americans - half of them children - would sink into poverty during his term? Because John Kerry would mislead America into a war of choice - now an unvarnished quagmire with more than 1,000 U.S. deaths?

The Bush administration's greatest strength is its ability to look the American people in the eye and tell them to ignore mountains of inconvenient facts in favor of fear, hollow sloganeering and outright lies.

Robert T. Wilke


Whole state benefits from a cleaner bay

In reply to the letter from someone who would prefer to let the Chesapeake Bay be polluted and die than to pay a "flush tax" of $2.50 a month ("Why should we pay to clean up the bay?" Sept. 6), I would note that no one in my family goes to public schools or receives welfare, yet we all must pay income and property taxes to fund these programs.

The idea of any tax is to collect from the people for the common good.

Just because someone only drives over the bay once a year does not mean that he or she is not affected by the quality and life of the bay.

Watermen, sport fishermen and "high-dollar boaters" all contribute to the economy and well-being of the state.

And anyone who thinks that he or she should be exempt from paying $2.50 a month in a flush tax to clean up the bay because that person does not use the readily available body of water is terribly selfish.

Peter Arrabal

Ellicott City

Put 'Doonesbury' on opinion pages

I find it troubling that The Sun would print the "Doonesbury" strip endorsing so-called gay marriage in the comics section of a family newspaper (Sept. 5).

What next? Comics endorsing abortion? Polygamy? Pornography?

This strip belongs, if anywhere, on the opinion pages, as it is nothing more than a running endorsement of leftist causes and Bush-bashing.

Joseph Melchor


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