Public transit serves an important public good

April 14, 2011

Ordinarily, I would agree with James A. Dorn's reasoned plea to privatize Maryland buses ("End the MTA monopoly," April 14), except for one small fact. Public transportation — like police protection and firefighting — is by its very nature not a business-like profit center.

I have been an MTA rider by choice for the last dozen years, when I voluntarily gave up owning and driving cars. As a boy, I rode the old Number 8 streetcar. During my high school years, I hitchhiked, then owned and drove cars for 35 years. Since then, I've come to appreciate again the pleasure of not driving, and the buses today are far better than the streetcars of old.

Professor Dorn briefly mentions what he calls "low income riders," and these are, in the main, our black citizens going to and from work downtown. I see them. These are the people who would be most hurt by privatizing the system. Public transportation is a service to the taxpayers from their government, and rightly so. One thing that Mr. Dorn fails to address in his otherwise well-written piece is that privatization will not increase ridership among those who do not now ride buses, nor will it park any cars. Both are best accomplished by improving the current system, not by destroying it.

For decades, I have heard whites decrying blacks who don't have jobs, while these black riders are going to work every day thanks to buses owned and operated by the Maryland Transit Administration. We can't have it both ways. Does the professor himself take the bus? I wonder.

Blaine Taylor, Towson

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