One Less Problem in Pioneer City ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY

April 08, 1993

Hats off to county school bus contractor Willie Nixon and a group of local business owners who know the meaning of civic responsibility for giving two poor, troubled neighborhoods a desperately needed resource -- transportation.

Many of the people who live in Pioneer City and Meade Village have no cars, which translates into no work and no access to health care, addiction and family counseling, and other services to help lift them out of despair.

Not long ago, a number of residents who completed a computer-training course at Van Bokkelen Elementary wanted to continue adult education studies in Annapolis, but could not because they had no transportation to get there.

A Mass Transit Administration bus stops near the neighborhoods, but it goes all the way to Baltimore before riders can catch a line to Glen Burnie or Annapolis. The inconvenience has forced job-seekers to look in the immediate Fort Meade area, which offers little beyond fast-food restaurants.

Thanks to the business owners, who have been working for two years to bring bus service to Pioneer City and Meade Village, and to Ms. Nixon, this is one less problem with which residents have to contend. For $1.25, the bus takes residents to Harundale Mall, where another dime buys them a transfer onto an MTA bus.

Unfortunately, few residents took advantage of the new service its first few days. We're guessing a lot of people don't know about it yet. Those who do ought to spread the word. Though Ms. Nixon is getting help from a federal grant, she's putting up her own money and needs a steady ridership to break even.

When it comes to solving the problems that plague poor neighborhoods, we too often get caught between two irreconcilable arguments: one, that people ought to pick themselves up by their own bootstraps; and, two, that taxpayers should support every government program under the sun to try to fix things.

Better than either extreme is the kind of private-sector, community involvement that has created this new bus service. These people see the truth that is often ignored even after the problems of poor neighborhoods have spread elsewhere: that the benefits of helping places like Pioneer City and Meade Village extend far beyond those communities themselves.

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