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Posted at 6:49 PM ET, 01/24/2011

Yes to transit, no to more roads

By Mary C. Massey, Silver Spring

The Jan. 20 Metro front-page article “Area’s No. 1 rank in traffic delay leaves a lot to curse about” and the Page 4 continuation, “Groups call for more road capacity and public transit,” made me cringe. Air pollution in the Washington metro area is already too high. Why is it necessary to continue to build homes, condos and rental apartments, other than to provide jobs for the construction industry? Such building will result in more cars, congestion and unhealthy pollution.

No matter how many times road capacity is increased, continued housing construction will guarantee that these roads will be clogged. And the annual average 70 hours we spend idling on backed-up roads means huge amounts of precious fuel wasted.

How about “yes” to more public transit but “no” to more road capacity?

By Mary C. Massey, Silver Spring  | January 24, 2011; 6:49 PM ET
Categories:  traffic, transportation  
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I would support more public transit if it is self-funding only. I have seen such systems become huge money-sucking ratholes that require tons of money year after year.

Posted by: balataf | January 25, 2011 3:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, I don't agree. Generalities are all well and good, but by that logic, we might as well tear up the roads and go back to cowpaths. Public transit is valuable, and DC is reasonably well served for a city of its size. Roads, however, have flexibility and in the final analysis, even buses must run on them.

Posted by: Nemo24601 | January 25, 2011 4:25 AM | Report abuse

Yeah! Let's have more 25% full buses holding up a line of traffic as they pickup or discharge a passenger or at a red light because Metro, in its safety zeal, woun't let them turn right on red.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 25, 2011 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Yeah! Let's have more 25% full buses holding up a line of traffic as they pickup or discharge a passenger or at a red light because Metro, in its safety zeal, woun't let them turn right on red.

Posted by: ronjaboy | January 25, 2011 6:18 AM | Report abuse

I agree with expanding public transit options. I use the commuter bus to get to work.
However, I95 is backed up not just at rush hours but all the time. When I'm trying to get to Springfield from Prince William County on a Saturday morning (to get to public transit - there are no buses that will take me there on the weekend) and the roads are clogged with local traffic and vacationers from out of state - that is a problem that can only be solved by increasing road capacity.

Posted by: kjh25177 | January 25, 2011 7:12 AM | Report abuse

The letter writer has answered her own questions. The building is for the benefit of the construction industry. Instead, the USA should be working to stabilize population. Keeping people from areas they are leaving, in the Midwest, for example. Roads & transit are not the only issue. What about capacity for freshwater & wastewater? For greenspace for all those hi-rise dwellers that are already here?

Posted by: catbird500 | January 25, 2011 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Cut the Federal workforce in DC by 25% and many fewer people will drive to work. They can move away, so no need to "build homes, condos and rental apartments". Heck, even construction companies could shutdown and those workers move to other areas.


Posted by: kitchendragon50 | January 25, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse


I'll support your proposal that all new public transportation be self funded if we apply it to roads too. I don't own a car and I'm tired of my tax dollars subsidizing your suburban life style. Why should people who don't drive on a road have to pay for it. All roads should be toll roads or the maintenance should be paid for by the residents of that road. I've seen too many streets become "huge money-sucking ratholes that require tons of money year after year."

Of course you could look at both roads and public transportation as part of a comprehensive transportation network that adds more value to the economy than its actual dollar cost by ensuring the free movement of people and encouraging economic activity. Its more fun to think about it as if its strictly a private good though and believe that metro only benefits the riders and roads only benefit the drivers.

Posted by: ELA5 | January 25, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

I don't use public transit to get to work. I could do so and have used it twice. Each time added about one hour to my commute--one way.

I live in a suburb and work in a suburb. I have to take two different trains, hop a bus, and then walk a little less than 1/2 mile. The return trip is identical. My car ride is about 35 minutes door to door on a decent day (that's one way).

Sorry, I will not add two hours to my commute and a great deal of inconvenience. Mass transit needs to reduce the effort to get to their jobs before people will use it.

Posted by: denise10 | January 25, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Live where you work, and you can laugh at the fools for whom this is such an everyday problem. Now, funding their oil wars and seeing the environment ruined, that’s everyone’s problem. Thanks a lot, suburban developers and highway lobby.

Posted by: SydneyP | January 25, 2011 11:58 AM | Report abuse

There's always an excuse not to use public transport. We can't build our way out of the problem. As far as self-financing public transport, simply ridiculous, and just another excuse. You want to drive, then keep quiet when you're stuck in traffic. If you're out there, you're part of the problem.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 25, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I use Metro, buses, walk and use a car and it simply depends on where I am headed and if I can carry the stuff home or not. We need roads that move traffic through quickly and efficiently just like Metro and buses, roads that work. We need the roads as not everyone is near public transportation or able to use it plus all the visitors to DC. Letting the roads stay clogged only adds to the air pollution and does not help anyone. Now, of course, we see the over crowded roads add to and cause road rage. It is totally unrealistic that all the people will use public transportation so future planning has to be for the needs of the people as they exist, stop trying to make them into something new.

Posted by: voter20 | January 25, 2011 3:04 PM | Report abuse

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