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James Fujita Rancho Palos Verdes

When I first moved to Los Angeles from New York, I was baffled by the Bus Riders Union. Back in New York, we have the Straphangers Campaign, which seeks to improve transit by encouraging the purchase of more buses and the development of better rail service. The idea of a group opposing rail service under the guise of improving transit makes absolutely no sense. Anybody who knows anything about transit knows there’s a necessity for both bus and rail, depending on the density and length of the corridor. Sure. building rail lines costs more. But construction costs are temporary. The reason rail systems are used in large cities around the world is because the real issue is operational costs, which are permanent. Since one bus operator can only move 40 or 50 people, while a train operator — earning the same salary — can move as many as 1,000 people, how hard is it to understand that building rail is cheaper, more efficient, faster, and the better long-term solution in dense areas? Besides, what good does it do, exactly, to keep pouring buses into areas that are already grid-locked?

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It’s a shame the BRU is so focused on its ideology. They are, in many ways, their own worse enemy.

Roger Rudick Los Angeles

I agree with Charles Rappleye in that the Bus Riders Union’s transportation priorities would be really bad for L.A.’s future mobility. Better local bus service is only one component of transportation. We also need better roads, HOV lanes, and a greatly expanded rail system to meet current and future mobility needs in Southern California. A 69 poercent yes vote for Proposition 42 on March 5 shows that commuters are fed up with traffic, and that they are willing to put their gas-tax money where their mouth is.

Daniel Walker Los Angeles

At the risk of positioning myself on the un–politically correct side of this issue, I have to agree with many of Mr. Rappleye’s points. I am a huge supporter and fan of public transportation — indeed, I ride a MTA bus most of the week to work. However, the myopic view that rail is evil and buses are the only solution is frustrating and absurd. When I worked downtown, I often used the Red Line, and I yearn for a regional rail system that will allow me to get to all of the major city nodes — a sentiment which I know is shared by many others. To see a long-awaited rail connection between downtown and Pasadana in danger of being scrapped is maddening.

And by the way, if we do have to drag the issue of race into this argument, Mr. Rappleye is correct — ride any of MTA’s rail lines and you will see virtually the exact same demographics as MTA’s buses. Yes, bus service could — and should — be better. But to improve bus lines in the short-term at the expense of a long-term regional public-transit solution is shortsighted and foolish.

David du Mars Los Angeles

Kudos to the Weekly! It’s about time someone told the truth about the Bus Riders Union. They have been telling tales and dropping jaws all over town for years. Anyone who has taken a Red, Blue, or Green Line train knows who takes this convenient, dependable mode of transit: every imaginable ethnic and socio-economic group. I took the Blue Line for two years through Compton, Long Beach, Willowbrook, South Central L.A., etc. I shared space with executives, housewives, construction workers, gangbangers. There were no problems or hassles: I loved it! Don’t let the BRU take away what makes L.A. great: diversity and increased mobility for all.

Nick Santangelo Los Angeles

I’d like to clear up two important points of misinformation:

1) The Consent Decree was not an agreement to purchase 50 to 100 buses and then stop (as if that’s enough buses to solve any problem). The Consent Decree, in short, is an agreement to remedy the problem of overcrowding, specifying buses being the priority.

2) As far as the issue of racial discrimination, our case was based on residential racial patterns and the lack of equal access to the public-transit system based on these patterns. It was not based on an individual rider taking a sample glance of his/her surroundings and assuming that this is a clear representation of transit riders across the board. If you can stop for a moment and see where this rail system is going both geographically and politically (or rather, where it isn’t going), it becomes clear who stands to benefit from its construction, and who stands to loose.

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