Privatizing bus service saves moneyYour Jan. 2 editorial...

LETTERS

January 10, 1996

Privatizing bus service saves money

Your Jan. 2 editorial, "Welfare reform requires buses" lamenting the dilemma of poor people needing transportation to work was a step in the right direction. But your editorial from Dec. 4, 1994, "Breathing space on transit tax," calling for privatization of bus systems, hit the nail on the head.

The key to quality improvement and cost containment in public transportation is to put the power of competitive contacting to work for the state. A study in the late 1980s for the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (now the Federal Transit Administration) indicated that states could realize an average 30 percent savings by using competitively-contracted privatized public transportation service rather than directly operating them.

Cities around the nation like Denver, Los Angeles, Phoenix and others are now turning to this option to save tax dollars, keep fares low and expand service.

Last year, Del. Joseph Getty, R-Carroll, introduced a resolution in the House of Delegates to have the Maryland Department of Transportation study the possible benefits and detriments of contracting out portions of the Mass Transit Administration's public transportation routes. The bill never even got a vote in committee, largely because of the fear that contracting out these services might cost the jobs of existing employees. But these unionized drivers have guaranteed job protection under Section 13(c) of the Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1964 under any contracting plan.

Maryland already has many examples of successful competitive contracting of public transportation services, including the MTA's own services for disabled residents in Baltimore and its rural public transportation program in counties throughout the state.

Maryland's DOT needs to look at contracting out parts of its fixed route services in the Baltimore area if it is serious about expanding service and keeping our gas tax at a reasonable rate.

Paul Comfort

Sudlersville

Furloughing was no family value

As an American citizen, living in a country where I was raised to respect the rights and dignity of others, I have nothing but contempt for the Republican Congress -- and especially the 73 freshmen -- who took the cowardly choice of using innocent American workers and their families as hostages in a despicable effort to inflict their extreme philosophies upon their fellow-citizens.

These workers and their families have been denounced, mocked, and belittled simply because their employer happens to be the U.S. government.

Regardless of how faithfully they have performed their duties over the years, or even how important those tasks may be to their fellow citizens, they have been humiliated, angered and shamed as their elected Republican representatives have shamefully used them in an attempt to blackmail the president and their Democratic opponents.

A multitude of government contractors also have been caught up in this horrible tragedy as thousands of hard-working employees of these firms who provide services and products to the government were laid off or placed on unpaid furloughs.

And many of these firms are small businesses which are not being paid, thus causing further ripple effects as their suppliers cannot be paid either.

If this behavior constitutes good family values, which they are so prone to preach, then I don't want what the Republicans have to offer.

James E. Willard

Kingsville

Bartlett repeal bill attacked as disgusting

The recent slashing of irreplaceable illustrations from old volumes at a Johns Hopkins library is truly disgusting.

Sadly, similar thefts have been reported at libraries all over the country, including the Library of Congress. These thieves are selling America's heritage, vandalizing the body of knowledge on which future generations will depend.

Some recent congressional proposals would savage our natural heritage in a similar fashion. One of the worst is H.R. 2275, the Young-Pombo bill. Co-sponsored by our Sixth District Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, this bill would practically repeal the Endangered Species Act and represents a giant step backward in protecting the natural world.

The marvelous diversity of species on our planet is every bit as precious to the human race as the wealth of knowledge and culture in our libraries. While libraries look mostly to the past, the species around us hold secrets which will -- if we don't destroy them -- guide our descendants.

Exactly how is impossible to say. But if the past is a predictor (half the prescription drugs we use today are derived from

natural sources), they will provide treatments for many diseases and cures for some. Childhood leukemia, ovarian cancer and heart disease are among the diseases they help treat today. A future list may include AIDS and other killers.

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