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Railroading the Public

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To the editor,

There are a number of good reasons that Chris Cohen's "modest" proposals are falling on deaf ears at Metra [Neighborhood News, August 15]. In an era of diminishing governmental funding for public transportation, agencies like Metra must put their limited capital funds to the best uses. The equipment and infrastructure of Chicago's commuter rail system is in serious need of repair or replacement. This includes locomotives, passenger coaches, bridges, road crossings, rail components, and existing structures such as stations, leaving little for new projects.

It's interesting that Jerry Reinsdorf supports the principle of a Metra station, as the White Sox own the parking concessions that serve the ballpark. If he is interested in the idea, perhaps he should put the money up as a gesture of thanks to the taxpayers who built his stadium.

Metra's client base is suburban, and its mission is to provide those commuters with transportation to and from downtown Chicago. There is little deviation from that basic service. Metra may appear shortsighted when it does not provide links with CTA rail lines, but they inherited a system of privately owned, competing railroads. The system was not designed with the idea of intermodal convenience. The demand for such service does not justify the cost of creating those links. Rather, Metra is concentrating its energies on problems such as intersuburban travel. If they can successfully draw auto commuters off the suburban road system with a planned circumferential line, they will be doing a great deal more for the environment than building rail service for Sox and Cubs fans who drive to the games ever would.

In a perfect world there would be funding for public transportation equal to the billions that are pumped into building more roads or underwriting pork-barrel projects. But that is not the case, leaving people with good ideas like Chris Cohen to undertake quixotic crusades against a public agency that would probably jump on the bandwagon if it had the money.

David Daruszka

Chicago

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