Opponents of Northstar rail set it up to be knocked down.
Commuter-rail systems turn in a higher fare recovery than buses do, and their per revenue passenger mile costs are half that of bus transit. Even the railroad right-of-way is paid for out of private funds, not scarce taxpayer dollars. So if you don't favor rail transit, you make management decisions to hobble a mode you don't like. And Annette Meeks and her conservative allies on the Metropolitan Council have done exactly that ("Northstar rail is a failed experiment," Oct. 15).
Since rail has the lowest seat mile costs of any mode, somewhere around a nickel, you can do two things: Price the service to fill those cheap seats, or price it to keep them empty and drive up costs into the stratosphere. Then blame the train for its failings. But Meeks and her allies didn't end it there. They created a horrid and hostile fare-collection system designed for buses, not for suburban commuter-rail passengers. Then they created cold and inhospitable rail stations unlike anything anywhere in the nation.
DENNIS LARSON, ANOKA
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