November 19, 2008

Don't blame leaves for light rail woes

I cannot believe that leaves are what is really stopping the light rail indefinitely ("Stopped short," Nov. 18). It seems to me that the real problem is the braking technology the Maryland Transit Administration installed on the system in 2004.

The light rail system has been open since 1992, and I am sure that leaves have fallen on the tracks ever since and that trains have ground them into a "gelatinous substance."

So why, after 16 years, have the trains come to a screeching halt in the northern half of the system? Do not ice and snow or even heavy rain cause similar slippery conditions?

The recalibration and overhaul of all of its train cars that the MTA is scheduled to complete by 2012 should solve the problem.

Jerry Todd, Linthicum

Spending priorities still strand transit

Sunday's Baltimore Sun gives us a clear indication that Maryland's transportation priorities remain out of whack with trends elsewhere in the country ("New, safer ramp to join I-95 to I-695 in White Marsh," Nov. 16).

The state is spending $208 million on one new ramp connecting Interstate 95 and Interstate 695.

The entire I-95 express toll lane project will cost a whopping $1.4 billion. That's enough to run the national Amtrak system for a good part of the year. And the Intercounty Connector, another massive highway project, continues to move forward.

Meanwhile, bus service in Harford and Cecil counties may be cut, and most light rail vehicles are out of commission and large portions of the system are shut down because wet leaves are causing damage to wheels ("Stopped short," Nov. 18). That's a problem that other transit systems have faced and solved.

Until our region gets decent public transportation, it will continue to lag behind other metropolitan areas.

Theodore Feldmann, Baltimore

Tax drugs to raise money, curb crime

With all the doom-and-gloom predictions about the economy, I think it is finally time to reconsider legalizing drugs.

Taxing the legal drug trade could be a tremendous source of income for the cities and the entire country. And an added benefit would be a reduction in crime.

What are we waiting for?

Anne Heaton, Baltimore

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