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Study verifies what bus riders know

I was hardly surprised to read the results of the recent survey conducted by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA), which showed that Maryland Transit Administration buses rarely come on time, despite so-called improvements implemented last October ("MTA buses fail on-time tests," June 14).

Any bus rider can produce a long list of horror stories of buses that arrive late or early, or never show up at all.

If anything, things have gotten worse since October, as the CPHA report demonstrates.

It is ridiculous that State Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan seeks to blame poor on-time performance on the lack of a high-tech tracking system.

If a nonprofit organization such as CPHA can conduct such a detailed survey through the efforts of a few volunteers, surely the MTA can monitor its own performance at least as accurately.

It sounds like Mr. Flanagan is trying to point fingers to distract riders from the real causes of the problems: Mr. Flanagan's ineptitude and lousy system planning.

Stu Goldstone


In reference to "MTA buses fail on-time tests" (June 14), I can only say, this is news?

I have been riding the buses in Baltimore for many years to work and back (it's much cheaper than parking downtown).

And it struck me that the survey's estimate that the late buses are, on average, 12 minutes late was pretty much right on.

My personal experience with the Maryland Transit Authority has been this: If a bus shows up at all, it's my lucky day.

Kenneth Quinn


Public transit needs a reliable timetable

The article "MTA buses fail on-time tests" (June 14) is just another example of the incompetence that has persisted at the Maryland Transit Administration, especially during the administration of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.

Public transit systems must be consistent, convenient, coordinated, cheap and clean and provide user-friendly schedule information to be competitive with private transportation.

To be consistently on time, buses must be scheduled in ways that assume a heavy load of traffic and passengers.

On trips where passenger loads are light, this may result in the driver having a break before starting his or her next trip on time.

But the failure of schedules to accommodate heavy loads or slow traffic will lead to buses falling behind and staying behind schedule. If any segment of the transit network is behind schedule, the intermodal (buses, light rail, Metro, MARC and Amtrak) public transit system cannot function in an acceptable manner.

A user-friendly schedule information system is needed to identify shortcomings in the system.

James Boak

Gwynn Oak

Legislature leaves consumers a big bill

Just how ignorant does the General Assembly think voters are ("Forces muster for rate hearing," June 17)?

The law it passed reduces the planned 72 percent increase down to 15 percent for only 11 months. Next year, electricity costs will rise again.

This is a given, considering the reality of energy prices. The new Public Service Commission will be faced with the fact that energy costs have increased significantly since the Assembly deregulated the industry in 1999.

The General Assembly caused this problem. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller championed the deregulation bill back in 1999 when it was passed.

Now we are left to pay his bill, and it will come due next year.

And for the next 10 years, we will have to pay interest on money that Baltimore Gas and Electric borrows to help keep its credit rating up.

It is interesting that while 10 Republicans voted for this energy bill, no Democratic legislator voted against it.

That should remind voters who caused this problem.

Sandy Abrams


Variable pricing well worth study

I hope our legislators read Jay Hancock's column about charging power hogs more for energy, as is done in Santa Monica, Calif., and other cities ("PSC should study rates that charge power hogs more," June 18).

Why should everyone help to heat their McMansions, Jacuzzis, swimming pools, etc.?

Progressive power rates should definitely be on the agenda for consideration to help the poor and to encourage energy conservation.

Jeanne M. Jones


Overstating returns most people can get

The Sun's article that compared the cost of the various energy rate fixes said that "having $1 today is better than having $1 a year from now because it could be invested and earn income during the year" and calculated the "net present value" with the "assumption that a typical investor could earn 5 percent interest" ("Customers pay less with newest plan," June 16)

Maybe those making policies (and at The Sun) should get in touch with the real world of the little guy.

I opened a bank account yesterday with coins that I had rolled and the best interest rate I could get was 0.35 percent (that's point 35, not 3 point 5).

Judy Rhoades


City traffic lights waste fuel, funds

If Mayor Martin O'Malley is so concerned with energy costs, why isn't he concerned about the lack of synchronization of traffic lights in Baltimore ("Candidates hope to gain on rate issue," June 16)?

I travel into the city at least once a week to go to Mercy Hospital for my husband's cancer treatments and cannot tell you how many lights along Light, Calvert and Eutaw streets and Key Highway are so far out of synch it is not funny.

If the mayor wants to show concern for the citizens of Maryland and save them energy costs, he should get the lights synchronized.

That would save us all some fuel and some dollars.

Marie E. Marucci


Send station statue far, far from home

I wholeheartedly concur with the writer of the letter "Mayor should raze station statue first" (June 16) that the city needs to rethink its razing priorities.

Both the Rochambeau and the statue in front of the Penn Station present issues of placement: the Rochambeau because, from the day it was built, it interfered with the line of sight to the basilica, which many regard as Baltimore's most architecturally significant landmark, and the "Male/Female" statue because it detracts from Baltimore's best example of Beaux Arts architecture.

The Rochambeau, however, is a building of no small architectural distinction, and a strong case has been made for not compounding an error of placement made many decades ago by removing it from our repository of architectural landmarks.

The "Male/Female" creation is a textbook example of misplacement in front of the Penn Station facade.

Instead of razing it, we might relocate it. But to where?

How about back to Boston?

Carl I. Thistel


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