MTA scoresRAVENS FANS and the Mass Transit Administration...

NOTES AND COMMENTS

August 29, 1998

MTA scores

RAVENS FANS and the Mass Transit Administration deserve credit for listening to each other.

The MTA heard the loud, angry cries of football spectators who complained bitterly about a near-breakdown in light-rail service before and after the first preseason game. The agency responded smartly by providing more park-and-ride buses.

Fans heeded the good advice of transit officials, just as they had heeded the bad advice of the MTA for the earlier game.

As a result, transit riders reached the Camden Yards area smoothly last Saturday night -- and on time for the kickoff and early Ravens scores.

Future football games should pose fewer problems. Most contests are on Sunday afternoons, when spectators can come early and stay late. Some will remain at the stadium after the Ravens games to watch the first half of later NFL games that will be shown on the stadium's giant screen.

The MTA has repaired some of its reputation with Ravens ticket holders after the initial fiasco, but it must keep listening to riders, be they football fans or commuters, to devise the most convenient, timely and comfortable routes.

Low crab harvests

REPORTS OF record-low crab harvests are blamed on the resurgence of striped bass and other abundant finfish species in the Chesapeake Bay. These prolific predators eat crabs, so commercial watermen catch fewer of the crustaceans for our table.

The recovery of the striped bass (rockfish in these parts) is largely due to a five-year moratorium on catching that fish in the bay. The human-imposed breather allowed the population to swell. Improvements in the estuary's habitat also fostered greater numbers of striped bass, croakers and other fish that feed on crabs.

Three years ago, it was feared that human over-fishing was depleting the crab population in the bay. Restrictions were implemented, with moratorium days and other limits. That should have promoted a resurgence of the blue crab, not a drop to half-normal catches in this peak month of July.

Despite scientific study and sophisticated solutions, humans play a smaller role than the vagaries of nature in manipulating environment. The triumph of the predatory finfish and the apparent decline of the blue crab are reminders of that imbalance of power.

Building boondoggle?

AND YOU thought the $800 million Ronald Reagan Building in Washington was lavish spending? Try this one on: $1.6 billion to consolidate the Patent and Trademark Office on a "campus" in Northern Virginia.

Some $1.3 billion will be spent on a 20-year lease. That's right, the federal government won't even own this complex. Such a bad deal makes the Reagan trade building seem a bargain in the long-term, since it will be occupied -- rent-free to taxpayers -- for decades.

The National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste have targeted this project for their latest crusade. Among the excess-spending allegations related to this project: shower curtains costing $250 each; $300 ash cans, $1,000 coat racks, $3,000 projection screens and $65 million in new furniture.

Republicans in Congress are incensed. Bureaucrats seeking to pull off this coup will have to mollify them. Perhaps they should call it the Reagan Patent and Trademark Building to silence the GOP clamor. It worked before, didn't it?

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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