The Baltimore Sun

Rail transit is key to modern mobility

It was encouraging to see two articles about the possibilities for more and better rail transit in the United States in Monday's Baltimore Sun ("Bringing the country up to speed with 21st-century transportation," Dec. 29, and "All aboard: the rush to rail," Commentary, Dec. 29).

Both articles refer to the anticipated federal economic stimulus package and note all the good reasons to promote rail transit as a desirable option for mobility both inside cities and between urban centers.

Rail transit is, indeed, a viable and responsible answer to America's mobility needs, not only for a post-petroleum society (which we will face sooner or later) but also for an aging population where more and more people won't be able or be willing to navigate cars along ever more congested roadways.

Rail transit can also help contain the wasteful sprawl created by auto-oriented land use.

We are about 30 years behind Europe and Japan when it comes to high-speed, intercity trains; on streetcars, light rail and metro systems, we fare only slightly better.

Now it will take all our resolve and creativity to catch up in a field in which the U.S. was a world leader a century ago and also to redevelop a national industry for passenger rail coaches, engines and equipment.

Klaus Philipsen, Baltimore

The writer is an architect and an urban planner.

A chance to stimulate greener transit system

In his column "All aboard: the rush to rail" (Commentary, Dec. 29), John W. Frece accurately illustrates the new American desires for transportation: more public transit, less traffic.

Right now, the nation is abuzz with speculation about the much-anticipated stimulus plan and what it will include for our transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, many of the wish lists for projects to be funded submitted by state departments of transportation across the country are strongly skewed toward building highways rather than public transit and intercity rail projects.

We cannot allow the economic stimulus plan to become a blank check for states to continue to build unnecessary highways.

Instead, we need our decision-makers to use this stimulus as an opportunity to advance America into the 21st century with a transportation system that reduces traffic congestion, curbs global warming and diminishes our dependence on oil.

Kristi Horvath, Baltimore

The writer is a policy associate for the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Anti-Bush vitriol shows no respect

In response to the column "43 reasons we won't miss President Bush" (Commentary, Dec. 30), I would like to comment that the writer, Thomas F. Schaller, has completely lost any credibility with many readers by spewing such hate-filled vitriol against our president.

Only in America does freedom of speech allow its citizens to make such outrageous and misleading statements about our head of state. Even those who disagree with some of the policies of Mr. Bush should show respect for the office and give him credit for keeping us safe after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our soil.

We can count this as just one more article that shows the usual media bias against anyone who isn't a liberal Democrat.

Elizabeth G. Brown, Woodstock

Did Bill Clinton get so snarky a send-off?

In response to Thomas F. Schaller's column "43 reasons we won't miss President Bush" (Commentary, Dec. 30), I eagerly await The Baltimore Sun's reprint of its essay, "42 reasons we don't miss President Clinton."

Robert Hutchins, Forest Hill

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