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Continued: Readers Write: (Oct. 1): Federal showdown, Vikings stadium, Minneapolis streetcar proposal, Minnesota Orchestra

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  • Last update: September 30, 2013 - 7:23 PM

The proposal to build a “starter streetcar line” has appeal to those who have never lived with such a line. I do remember the previous Twin Cities streetcar system (“Streetcars tapped for 3.4-mile line,” Sept. 25).

There was excitement over removing the streetcar lines and replacing them with buses. When the system was dismantled, newspapers ran pictures of scrapped streetcars being burned while officials celebrated. The spider web of wires and supporting structures were removed from the streets. There were no longer tracks to grab bicycle and motorcycle tires.

Buses are more flexible. They can be shifted from route to route to respond to hourly or yearly demand changes. They can follow detours and drive around temporary obstructions in the road. Without dedicated lanes, streetcars are nothing more than buses that lack flexibility. Like buses, they are subject to all the unpredictability of traffic.

The justification is that growth will be spurred along the line by businesses and residents who want to locate near mass transit that is no faster and no more comfortable than buses.

For less money, more useful changes could be made to improve ridership. More and improved shelters and nondiesel buses are possible improvements.

AL LARSON, Bloomington

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MINNESOTA ORCHESTRA

Why musicians’ salaries aren’t like everyone else’s

From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see why some letter writers lose patience with the musicians union while in negotiations with the orchestra management (Readers Write, Sept. 28). The incomes presented with signing bonuses can seem pretty significant in comparison with average incomes of most Minnesotans. Disregarding economic comparisons between professional sports entertainers and professional musicians, there are a significant reasons why the orchestra musicians deserve and need well over a six-figure income.

A 40-year-old, world-class professional musician has probably accrued in the vicinity of 30,000 to 40,000 hours of practice and rehearsal, and $100,000 to $200,000 in educational bills.

And to remain a world-class musician, he or she will have purchased world-class instruments that can cost well more than $100,000, with some having prices close to a seven-figure price tag. (Likewise, a professional NASCAR driver doesn’t drive a Malibu in a race; the average cost of a NASCAR race car is $125,000.)

But wait, there’s more: The musician now incurs costs to insure the instrument, and we all know insurance is not inexpensive.

I don’t have a dog in this hunt, but I would love to see the Twin Cities area keep the orchestra it deserves.

DAVID BERGER, Minneapolis

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