Notice rail's efficiency, congestion's cost

Mike Meyers ("Light rail: Popular. And a boondoggle," April 16) undercuts his own argument when he compares operating subsidies of $2.18 per bus ride with $1.44 per light-rail ride. One reason for this disparity is that two three-car light-rail trains have a passenger capacity that would require seven of the largest buses.

Another factor overlooked by Meyers is the longevity of rail equipment vs. buses. Rail vehicles can be rebuilt many times at a fraction of the cost of new vehicles.

Rail offers superior ride quality and faster acceleration (sometimes mistaken for greater speed). This means fewer vehicles are required to provide the same service as buses. Meyers also ignores customer satisfaction, a factor in why people buy a product. People ride trains who would never ride a bus.

RUSS ISBRANDT, White Bear Lake


As is usual when somebody has an agenda, Meyers doesn't connect the proper dots. According to him, when the three light-rail projects are complete, they'll "cover less than 40 miles." That figures out to 1.67 percent of combined bus and light rail miles covered. Then, in the last paragraph, he writes, "light rail, at last count, carried only one in eight mass-transit riders." My simple math gives me 12.5 percent of riders in that case.

So, 12.5 percent of riders being serviced by less than 1.67 percent of the transit system is a boondoggle?



Meyers presented compelling ideas about the enormous expense of expanding light rail. What I didn't see in the article is the tremendous cost to deal with current road congestion. Nor did I see information about the incredible cost to relieve future road congestion, which is estimated to exceed $65 billion from 2009 through 2028.

As usual with complex issues, there is no one answer. I strongly suggest a combination of planning and funding tactics to deal with these immense problems.


Guns and kids

It's the adults, stupid!

I read "Gun play" (May 16) with a great sense of dismay. An 18-year-old is quoted as saying that he would want to hold a gun, given the opportunity: "I don't really see it as a big deal." A 13-year-old tells of riding in a car with his uncle who carried a handgun in his lap "in case people mess with him." He said it made him feel safe.

Excuse me? He is riding around in a car with a gun in his lap? The problem isn't the kids -- the problem is the adults in these kids' lives and the culture that allows this to be normal behavior. We have bigger problems than kids shooting each other. We have adults who enable this kind of mentality. If they want their kids to grow up alive and out of prison, it is time to take some responsibility for what is going on in their world.



I was lucky enough to have a father who introduced me to firearms at a young age. Trigger locks or gun safes are probably a good idea, but they're no substitute for the best gun-safety device: education.

If accidental shootings are to be reduced, parents should instruct their children from a young age on the proper use and handling of firearms. Telling kids to 'just stay away' from guns is likely to be about as effective at preventing accidental shootings as abstinence-only sex education is at reducing unwanted pregnancies. The presence of a youngster who is familiar with guns and committed to firearm safety is the most effective way to diffuse an unsafe situation.


KERSTEN on Obamacare

What's being 'revealed' is in eye of beholder

Thanks to Katherine Kersten for revealing how corporations will exploit workers in favor of their bottom lines when it comes to health care ("Obamacare now begins to reveal itself," May 16).

She clearly shows that the only reasonable answer is to follow the lead of other industrialized nations who provide more comprehensive care for significantly less money. It is time for single-payer health care!



As is quite normal, Kersten really hit the nail on the head. Years ago, medical reimbursement was developed to help people with their costs. Starting in 2011, due to Obamacare, receipts will no longer be sufficient to prove over-the-counter drug expenses; a prescription from a doctor will also be necessary. I can't wait to ask my doctor for prescriptions for Aleve, Anacin, Tylenol and the many other OTCs that have always qualified.

What we had was certainly not perfect, but what we are finding is that it was not so bad, either.


Teacher firings

Have all the bad journalists been fired?

In response to your editorial on teacher firings ("A failing grade in evaluating teachers," May 16): I'm going to assume that among the Star Tribune writers, 10 percent are outstanding, 10 percent struggle and the rest do satisfactory-to-good work. Let me know when you have identified and fired the bottom tier.


Garrison Keillor

Many are 'too busy' to know those closest

A rare moment of honesty in Garrison Keillor's eulogy for his father-in-law ("A model, in life and death," May 16) gives us insight into the man: "I was too busy to get to know him well."

This is, in fact, an insight into our society and our own membership in larger-than-family communities.