Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 01, 2008

What MARC needs is better funding

As a frequent user of MARC trains from Baltimore to Washington, I think The Sun's criticism of the Maryland Transit Administration was unwarranted ("Fixing MARC," editorial, July 27).

The MTA is dancing as fast as it can in trying to address the tremendous growth in ridership, and summer heat does create operational problems. At least the current administration is aware of how difficult the situation is becoming for daily commuters and willing to address their concerns.

Ridership has been increasing along with the area's population growth. But now the MTA is trying to address a large spike in ridership as a result of the dramatic rise in gas prices.

The MTA can plan for growth, but it also needs more funds. And if there is blame to be assigned here, it should go to generations of uninspired funding decisions by Congress.

For too long, the playing field has been heavily tipped in favor of highway spending with very little spent on rail lines and public transit.

It's time to level the playing field and provide more money for transit and rail lines to help commuters, lower our dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouses gases.

That would be good public policy and good for consumers, and it could help to save our planet.

Phyllis Wilkins, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Maglev Maryland for the Baltimore Development Corp.

Amtrak not cause of MARC's woes

The Sun's editorial "Fixing MARC" (July 27) assigns to Amtrak more responsibility for MARC's shortcomings than the national passenger railroad deserves.

MARC operates on three rail lines, two of which (the Brunswick and Camden lines) are owned and operated by CSX, while the third, the Penn Line, is owned and operated by Amtrak.

Amtrak has locomotive maintenance responsibility for MARC electric locomotives only. MARC's diesel engines are maintained by CSX.

The editorial briefly mentions the role of CSX, but states that the MARC trains "are operated and maintained by Amtrak staff" - and that is only partially correct.

R. Clifford Black IV, Washington

The writer is chief of corporate communications at Amtrak.

Delays, costs plague rail commuters

I'd like to thank Michael Dresser for his column "Caution, tips for MARC trips" (July 28). It was an accurate summary of experiences many commuters have encountered between MARC stations and Washington's Union Station.

The commute requires a lot of patience and creativity just to get to work and home on time. I recently ran out of both after 5 1/2 years of working in Washington and returned to working in Baltimore for good.

And please don't forget the cost of the commute.

In addition to the cost of a monthly MARC pass ($175), there is the cost of parking for those who depart from Penn Station and, for many people, the added cost of using the Metro in Washington to get from Union Station to their destination.

Taking the train is cheaper than driving, but you find yourself thinking hard about the benefits of those savings when you're stuck on the last train out of Washington, which often gets delayed indefinitely.

Jerome C. Gray, Baltimore

Dogs do damage to city's Lee Park

The Sun's article "Lee Park footbridge closed" (July 23) failed to give the other side of the story. It failed to quote the folks who no longer enjoy Robert E. Lee Park since it has been overrun by dog-walkers.

This group includes community residents like me who are disgusted by the damage caused to the park by the dogs.

I stopped taking my family there years ago after my children were terrified by off-leash dogs - not to mention that they were unable to leave the paths as a result of all the dog droppings.

The dog-walkers are aggressive and run to the media and politicians if anyone questions their behavior.

Perhaps now that the bridge into the park is closed they can let their dogs run free in their own neighborhoods.

T. Andros, Baltimore

Wall has made Israelis much safer

The writer of the letter "Speech in Israel missed a chance" (July 28) just doesn't get it when she writes about Israel's security wall.

Before the wall was erected, Israeli citizens took their lives in their hands every time they ventured out to shop or rode on the bus.

Since the security wall was erected, deaths and maimings from suicide bombings have nearly disappeared.

What part of that does the letter writer not understand?

Karen Hening-Speedone, Baltimore

U.S. food supply is safe, abundant

While Johns Hopkins professor Ellen Silbergeld accuses the food industry of failing at safety ("Food industry fails at safety," Commentary, July 20), I think it is she who fails to provide the facts.

Ms. Silbergeld writes that "in survey after survey conducted by the Food and Drug Administration and university researchers, the majority of beef, poultry and pork products for sale in U.S. supermarkets carry pathogenic bacteria, often resistant to the antibiotics added to feeds."

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