The existing and planned light-rail lines in the Twin Cities are a very smart investment, despite what self-described transit activist Bob "Again" Carney Jr. would like you to believe ("The truth behind light-rail sticker shock," Nov. 13).
Like Carney, we at Transit for Livable Communities want to see more bus service. But the choice can and should be "both-and," rather than "either-or." As is the case in growing cities across the country, light rail is the best choice for a limited number of corridors that connect key activity and employment centers. Daily ridership exceeds 25,000. Buses, with far fewer seats than light rail, just can't efficiently handle that load.
Light-rail projects need to be judged on costs and benefits. According to the Itasca Project, the build-out of light-rail and bus rapid transit in the Twin Cities area will return nearly three dollars of direct economic benefit for every dollar invested, with the majority of these benefits being reduced travel time (i.e., less-congested roads) for car drivers.
So far, our Blue and Green light-rail lines have been huge successes by several measures. Ridership is well beyond that predicted. Onboard capacity remains for increased ridership in the future. Billions have been or are planned to be invested in adjacent new residential and commercial development. The operating costs and environmental impacts are lower than those of buses.
Yes, we should fund a major expansion of our metro region's bus service (there is a plan that awaits funding), but that is no reason to opt out of building light rail in the Green Line extension (Southwest light rail), the Blue Line extension (Bottineau light rail) and the Riverview Corridor in the east metro, which is being studied now. Buses and trains, along with well-designed bicycle and pedestrian connections, are all key components of a 21st-century transportation system.
Dave Van Hattum, Minneapolis
The writer is advocacy director for Transit for Livable Communities.
THE PARIS ATTACKS
Let's be thoughtful, not rash, about our response
If our country is going to double down on homeland security as a result of Nov. 13, which already has become as historic a date as 9/11, let's make sure we do nothing rash such as allow Congress to rush through another ill-advised Patriot Act. However we become more vigilant, we must always protect the constitutional rights of all Americans, no matter their religious faith or lack thereof; their political beliefs or lack thereof, and their mere appearance, which may not be indicative at all of what is in their hearts and minds. Thank goodness we have organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional rights to protect us.
Willard B. Shapira, Roseville
• • •
All of the nations that are struggling to find a way to win the war against the extremist radicalism of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant seem to be woefully oblivious to the most effective weapon available to us all: counter-ideological messaging.
We have read an occasional letter from a person of the Muslim faith assuring the world that Islam does not espouse the ideals that ISIL promotes. Yet I have heard nary a word of condemnation by any of the religious leaders of the Nation of Islam, a movement founded in the U.S. in 1930. Why are their voices either completely silent or so weak that I could more easily hear a pin drop than hear their unified voices condemning the actions of ISIL loudly, frequently and with conviction?
And why are the nations that are struggling with finding ways to weaken ISIL's power of persuasion not recruiting respected imams worldwide to loudly and frequently teach their at-risk youths that ISIL's is not a holy war? That their willingness to sacrifice their lives for the ideals of ISIL is condemned by Allah and will only bring shame on them, their families and their friends? That there is no heavenly reward in store for them by killing innocent people, believers and nonbelievers alike?
Instead of equipping drones with bomb systems, 1,000 drones should be equipped with loudspeakers that broadcast in synchrony a counter-message from the heavens by the mostly highly respected Muslim religious leader. We should use all the available forms of communication to constantly broadcast these messages of peace: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and others.
Those who would sacrifice their lives will not believe anyone but their own religious leaders. The Muslim leaders of the world need to rise to the challenge.
Joe Evans, Minneapolis
• • •
As we rightfully mourn the terrorist carnage in Paris and see an immediate investigation, we ought to express an equal outrage and call for an independent investigation of the calculated bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in the city of Kunduz. The media silence following the attack in that Afghan hospital testifies to a selective conscience. Where is the demand for a full and independent investigation of that war crime?
Larry Risser, Minneapolis
• • •
I hate to ask this question, but … is the world a safer place without Saddam Hussein??
Douglas DeCarolis, Lakeville
• • •
Contrary to popular thinking — particularly in the immediate aftermath of unspeakable horrors of recent days like Baghdad, Beirut and Paris — we actually live in one of the most peaceful times in human history, according to Prof. Steven Pinker of Harvard University. Please don't fall into the trap. It isn't the fault of the media if we choose only to watch news that conforms to our worldview and then wring our hands at all of the terrible things that happen to other people, in other parts of the world. Choose differently. Like our nutritional diet, we need a diverse diet of news and information.
Empirical facts show we are living in a far less violent age than at any time in the history of our species.
In a 2011 interview, Pinker stated that "human nature may embrace motives that lead to aggression, but it also embraces motives like empathy, self-control and reason, which, under the right circumstances, can outweigh the aggressive impulses."
I believe we need to actively help create those "right circumstances" in our families, our communities and the world, and take the risk to engage with, talk to, teach and learn from those who are different from us. We should help one another to encourage our better angels to overcome our lesser ones. Extremism and fanaticism and barbarism, in all of their forms, exist due to very narrow worldviews, but Nelson Mandela taught that people must learn to hate and that "if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love."
I wish us all luck.
Dave Panetti, Bloomington
The writer is a foreign-service officer.
His legacy travels
In 2007, my husband and I were touring Asian countries. We found ourselves in the beautiful Shanghai Museum of Art one afternoon. Waiting for my husband in the lobby and people-watching, I turned around to view what was carved in the large granite wall behind me. Imagine my shock to see Bruce Dayton's name in large, bold letters. Yes, all of my Minnesota buttons popped!
Elaine Zimmer, Brooklyn Park