Popular Misconceptions

(Text of an e-mail sent to Jonathan Dobrer -- a professor of comparative religion at the American Jewish University -- who wrote an op-ed in the Daily News on July 8 that cited several misstatements about Metro and its history. Professor Dobrer responded with his appreciation of my rebutting him with facts rather than anger, which I, in turn, very much appreciate his graciousness in doing.)

To: Jonathan Dobrer (jondobrer@*******)
From: Kymberleigh Richards (krichards@socata.net)
Subject: Rebuttal

Professor Dobrer,

Sadly, in your zeal to make a case against the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), you apparently failed to do sufficient research. Thus your case is riddled with half-truths, misstatements, and the like.

As an example, the Green Line, which you devoted a significant amount of your rant to, was not planned by Metro. It was planned by the predecessor agency, the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission (LACTC), which already had the line near completion when they were replaced by Metro. The original route to LAX was blocked by the Airport Authority -- and the FAA -- because there was concern about the overhead electrical wiring becoming a hazard to landing aircraft, since the route would run underneath the approach path to the runways. I don't know who your anonymous "spokesperson" was, but it couldn't have been anyone credible, because the facts are all in the old LACTC records.

Similarly, the headquarters building was already under construction when Metro came into existence, having been designed and authorized by their other predecessor, the Southern California Rapid Transit District.

As far as Metro looking at multiple routes for a western subway extension, if you were as knowledgeable as you try to appear, you would know that, in order to apply for federal matching funds (because the sales tax would never be able to pay the entire bill and still fund other worthy projects throughout the county), Metro has to consider the options before making a determination of the most viable route. Those of us who are involved on a daily basis with public transportation advocacy know that this is how the process works; apparently, sir, you do not.

Finally, fare increases are a fact of life, because even as gasoline (and other) prices go up, so does Metro's costs to operate service. Metro's fare of $1.25 pales in comparison to the fares in other California cities: San Diego and Sacramento both charge $2.00; San Francisco, $1.50; San Bernardino, $1.35; and the systems in Riverside, Ventura/Oxnard, and Santa Barbara -- all considerably smaller systems than Metro -- charge the same $1.25 fare.

Do I trust Metro with increased funding for additional projects? Yes, I do, because unlike yourself, I am an optimist and do not point the finger of blame unfairly.

Kymberleigh Richards
Public & Legislative Affairs Director
Southern California Transit Advocates

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