Why single-zone bus fare is a good moveI am a frequent MTA...


January 22, 1996

Why single-zone bus fare is a good move

I am a frequent MTA passenger in favor of the fare re-structuring for the following reasons:

Under many circumstances, both city and suburban riders will actually save money because the complicated five-zone system is being eliminated.

This zone system can easily cost riders more.

Unless you are traveling exclusively in the downtown area, you will incur additional zones. Zone 5, which includes Annapolis, adds an extra $1 to the base fare.

Patrons who frequently use transit services will save money with the proposed $3 all-day pass (disabled and senior citizens $1).

Currently the base fare of $1.25, a 10-cent transfer plus a 10-cent zone fare is a $1.45 ride. Under the new structuring, the same ride will cost $1.35. And that $1.35 that takes a passenger through downtown will be the same cost as a ride to Annapolis.

A frequent rider who uses transit three or four times a day and purchases the daily pass will be paying much less to ride.

As for the proposed elimination of certain bus routes, it appears that none of the affected areas will be left stranded. It seems as if it is more a consolidation of bus lines, similar to the major re-routing of 1984.

The single-fare system works. New York City and Boston are good examples.

Lest we forget, Baltimore used to have a single-fare system in which the same ride through downtown cost the same as one to Reisterstown, and the service was much more frequent, too.

Perhaps a return to the single-fare system is an idea whose time has come.

Larry Hankin


Who says we need a balanced budget?

Balancing the federal budget sounds like a good idea but is really very stupid fiscal policy. Our national economy is the total of spending by consumers, businesses and government.

When government spending is cut, will business make up the difference?

Business ''downsizing'' is outpacing the government ''downsizing'' being forced on the Clinton administration by the congressional know-nothings.

Every week we read of a giant employer such as AT&T laying off tens of thousands of loyal employees.

Of course, the ultimate business ''downsizing'' is the flight of capital to Third World nations, where women and children work long hours for pennies and where toxics are dumped into the air and water with impunity. The ultimate land of ''favorable labor conditions'' is China, where the survivors of the Tiananmen Square massacre toil away in concentration camps, making toys and jeans for U.S. companies.

With such ''favorable labor conditions'' in the world, don't expect U.S. CEOs to somehow transform their behavior in Newt Gingrich's magic year of 2002.

The argument that the government has to balance the budget because we have to balance our budget is ridiculous.

Most Americans incur debt -- the home mortgage, the car loan, student loans, credit cards, etc. Businesses operate through bank loans; large companies issue bonds. None of the ideologues running the House of Representatives is suggesting abolishing consumer and business debt. That would create an immediate depression.

But the government cutbacks will also create a depression. President Hoover's attempts at budget balancing in 1931 and 1932 helped to turn a recession into a depression; President Roosevelt's recovery program was a complete success until he tried to balance the budget in 1937.

When Americans are standing in bread lines in 2002, when our streets are filled with homeless children and seniors, Americans can only blame themselves for allowing the government to be taken over by a gaggle of fanatical ideologues such as Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and the gang of 73 freshman members of Congress, including Robert Ehrlich.

Alan C. Cohen


staff excelled in extraordinary storm

I am very surprised that, rather than congratulating city employees for a job well done under the circumstances, The Sun day after day is attacking city staff and officials, particularly George Balog, director of public works, for their handling of the Blizzard of 1996.

Many dedicated city personnel spent countless hours away from their families and loved ones to fight this storm and to mitigate its consequences.

The Sun must understand that this was the ''Blizzard of the Century'' and it is impossible to perform miracles and do a perfect job when the city's equipment and manpower are not designed to handle storms of this magnitude. Great intentions and will alone are not sufficient to do the job.

A Sun columnist, rather than suggesting in a column that ''the director of public works be an elected position,'' should be asking the city residents if they would like to pay additional taxes to allow the city to have additional snow removal equipment and standby personnel to await the next ''Blizzard of the Century.''

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