Light rail is getting a bad rapAmy Macht's discussion of...

the Forum

April 17, 1991

Light rail is getting a bad rap

Amy Macht's discussion of the Central Light Rail Line (Other Voices, March 19) contains incorrect and misinterpreted information. For example, Ms. Macht says light rail costs $50,000 per new rider. But that's if the line operated only one day with each rider taking only one trip ever. In reality, transportation infrastructure is built to be used each day for many years.

Ms. Macht also states that only 2,000 to 4,000 new transit riders (about 10 percent of total ridership) will be attracted to light rail. Studies project that 33 percent of the 2,000 Hunt Valley extension riders and 80 percent of the 2,800 BWI extension riders will be new to transit. (And we expect experience consistent with the Baltimore Metro, where 40 percent of the riders in the first few years were new to public transportation.) The projection of 34,000 daily riders is conservative, with no customers included for the planned Penn Station extension, no baseball stadium goers and few Hunt Valley area residents bound for downtown.

Another allegation is that this project will not reduce traffic congestion. Ms. Macht refers to an analysis of the Hunt Valley extension, where a primary focus is to take people to jobs in Hunt Valley. She applies this to the whole line. A 1984 study by the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments, however, shows that after the introduction of the Baltimore Metro, traffic was reduced by 15 percent.

Ms. Macht also charges that this project will not reduce pollution and will increase transportation energy consumption. The MTA has stated that the Hunt Valley extension will not significantly affect regional pollution because it is only one small segment of the project. Ms. Macht has taken a specific Hunt Valley answer and applied it to the whole line. The Central Light Rail Line will reduce pollution. Every person who leaves a car home to take the line will keep automotive emissions out of the air that day.

Ronald J. Hartman


The writer is administrator and general manager of the Mass

Transit Administration.

Open spaces

The recent debate in the state legislature regarding the 2020 report helps to emphasize the increasing need for local government to protect the remaining open space in our state. In Baltimore County, the loss of farmland, forests and once rural areas to urbanization has been a primary issue which the Baltimore County Council is currently moving to address. However, efforts to protect open space are met with obstacles. The options are few and the means are limited.

Protecting open space is a difficult task which will require innovative legislation in order to address the equity concerns of property owners, fiscal control mandated by taxpayers and the preservation of open space in perpetuity. Currently in Baltimore County, we really have only one option: direct purchase.

Zoning and development regulation changes could allow Baltimore County to provide greenways, wildlife habitat areas, protection of historical features and conservation of existing communities without costing the taxpayers. The revision of the rural residential and watershed protection zones to allow smaller lot sizes, a hamlet concept and community well and septic systems could be the first step toward less urban sprawl.

In addition, lower zoning densities and design control by the Baltimore County Office of Planning and Zoning will mesh the plan for better, more sensitive development in our rural areas and a major savings for the taxpayers of Baltimore County.

Vince Gardina

The writer is Baltimore County's 5th District council 6 representative.


Once more the conservative Heritage Foundation comes through with critical analyses ("Gulf war's domestic toll: Democrats, liberals, civil rights establishment," by Adam Meyerson, Other Voices, April 9) showing obvious inaccuracies:

Mayerson says the civil rights establishment "demeaned the patriotism" of black fighters by implying that their enlistments were for economic reasons rather than patriotism. How grossly insulting!

Does the Heritage Foundation forget that the pope and several major allies also believed that economic sanctions against Iraq should have been tested longer before our declaring a war which resulted in more than 100,000 deaths?

Stanley Knapp


Raises and layoffs

As layoffs loom for 1,500 state employees, Governor Schaefer gets to sit back and rake in a $35,000 pay raise. And he has the nerve to wonder why his popularity has reached an all-time low!

Greg Colburn


Able administrators

Walter E. Boyd Jr. (Forum, March 30) suggests that Lloyd Jones, director of the Department of Assessments and Taxation, has done nothing about the problems of the office.

What do some people expect? Our state administrators are of the highest caliber. They are not politicians but dedicated professionals who enjoy their jobs, love their state and serve the public to the best of their ability.

Having had occasion to make inquiries into two much-maligned areas, assessment and taxation, I found Lloyd W. Jones and motor vehicles commissioner Marshall Richerts to be accessible, competent and helpful.

Let's not bash our administrators!

Elizabeth E. Richardson


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