By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
ALL NOT ABOARD THE
Over the years I have ridden the Blue Line many times, often from end to end. This pulp-fiction writing about the Line [“Killing Time on the Ghetto Blue,” January 23–29] is really overwrought. There is no question that lower-income and unemployed people often use the Line to get around, as they also do the Red Line, Green Line, Gold Line and MTA buses (which are involved in many fatal accidents each year). However, to try to imply that it is essentially dangerous to even board the Blue Line is ludicrous. The vast majority of its riders are ordinary working people, many commuting from Long Beach and environs to downtown.
Is the Blue Line really responsible for all of the economic and social problems that are besetting our communities? I think that government policies have created our flailing economy, mass layoffs coupled with a job drought, mass unemployment, a vastly unequal income distribution locally, and underfunded, rotten schools. The Blue Line is also not responsible for the fact that the number of jobs in the county is no more than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
The Blue Line is a lifeline for thousands and thousands of working people. That it often runs at minimum capacity is the fault of penny-pinching political leaders.
I just finished reading Ben Quiñones’ article on the Blue Line and have to admit I am astonished. I have ridden the Blue Line two to four times a week for two years, to visit a friend in Long Beach, and have never seen what he is reporting. Once or twice a truly crazy person has gotten on the train, and everyone (like a good New Yorker) ignored them. I have never seen gang activity (though clearly gang members get on the train), token trading, harassment of any kind, or what felt like reportable behavior.
It is discouraging enough not to have a viable light-rail system in L.A. without this kind of biased reporting. Yes, the train goes through some horribly depressed neighborhoods. Yes, there seem to be very poor people riding the train. But there is also a stop at Grand where students from Trade Technical College board and de-train, and at the Aquarium of the Pacific, where families from all over L.A. go with their children via the Blue Line.
Most of the accidents described in the article are the usual train accidents — people thinking they can cross the tracks and beat the train when in fact there is not enough time. To publish an article blaming the MTA for this is like publishing an article blaming Philip Morris because people still smoke.
I am a factory worker originally from Puerto Rico who uses the buses and trains of the MTA. In his article about the Blue Line, Mr. Quiñones fails to point out that the future of public transportation in L.A. lies in the expansion of the rail network. As the Rapid Bus Line along Wilshire Boulevard proves, there’s no way to provide fast and efficient bus service in increasingly congested streets. Probably the best alternative, in terms of cost, security and speed, would be to copy the Green Line, which runs along the center of the freeway. With cars on the freeway now moving 20 mph during rush hour, more people would be interested in trying public transportation, and less smog would be generated in our city. These rail lines should be financed not by taking money out of buses, but from the highway budget or general transportation budget. Otherwise, in 30 years it will be faster to walk to our jobs.
Ben Quiñones swallowed Tom Rubin’s anti-rail propaganda whole in his otherwise insightful L.A. Blue Line article. Transit advocates I know in L.A. and elsewhere do not consider Rubin an “expert,” but rather an anti-rail crusader with a lot of acronyms after his name. Rubin’s job also apparently disappeared due to the Southern California Rapid Transit District and Los Angeles County Transportation Commission merger in the early 1990s.
For the record, total passenger trips on the Blue Line exceed 70,000 per day. The 35,000 passengers cited are round trips, which is not the standard patronage reporting method in the transit industry. As for safety, despite the most recent incidents, the accident rate has been dropping consistently.
CINEMA BORN FROM THE SAND
I would like to thank L.A. Weekly and Annia Ciezadlo for not only highlighting the work of Oday Rasheed and hiscrew in making Underexposure
[“Lights . . . Camera . . . Hit the Dirt!,” January 16–22] but also for exposing the hardships that Iraqi filmmakers and artists have gone through in the past, and the need to support their work in the present. Filmmakers in Iraq face immense challenges in creating new works. Not only have their filmmaking institutions been under the auspices of the state, and severely censored, but today their need to tell the stories that have been silenced for decades is deemed nearly impossible due to a lack of understanding of the transformative qualities of film.