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VALLEY BUSWAY A GOOD STEP IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

Byline: Kenneth S. Alpern Local View

IT is with mixed feelings that I congratulate the Valley on its new mass transit project. Although it is long overdue for Chandler-Burbank right-of-way to be used for mass transit, I strongly feel that Valley voters and taxpayers deserve the cleaner, higher capacity and preferred rail system they were promised decades ago.

As an advocate of a rail infrastructure to relieve Los Angeles' congested freeways, I am saddened that the Red Line (which doubled its ridership overnight to more than 100,000 riders per day once it finally connected the Valley to downtown Los Angeles) will not get a connecting rail system - which would likely be used by more motorists than a busway.

I am somewhat heartened, however, that this busway will be designed to rail specifications so that it can it can be rebuilt as a light rail in a future decade.

As a political and economic conservative, however, I am appalled that the Valley will see its busway being built while Pasadena, the Eastside and the Westside get a light rail - and then see the busway get torn up in order to get a light rail in future years. Such a building and rebuilding will unnecessarily cost up to $1 billion in taxpayer money.

As an Angeleno of the Westside, who fought along with other Westsiders to get half an Exposition light rail from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City with the same amount of money that a full busway could be built all the way to Santa Monica, I would say the same thing holds true for the Valley.

Simply put, infrastructure is expensive and difficult to redo, and therefore should be built correctly the first time.

Most importantly, as a Jew, allow me to be the first to throw down the gauntlet to ``my fellow lonsmen'' by saying how absolutely appalled I was to see a Jewish neighborhood in the Valley use the specter of racism and political correctness purely for NIMBY purposes by blocking the light rail that could have been built for the Valley years ago.

Thanks to the bill by former (and now disgraced) Sen. Alan Robbins that forced light rail to be built underground in this neighborhood, the Valley gets a second-rate busway while the rest of Los Angeles County gets light rail.

I think it is only fair and appropriate that if the Valley really wants to secede from the rest of Los Angeles, it must use this issue of mass transit - which brings neighboring communities together - as a test of Valley unity.

Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in New York City and other major cities coexist well with mass transit, and Valley Jews are no less adaptable and intelligent than their counterparts elsewhere.

If the Valley really feels it can exist independently with more responsive government than the rest of the city of Los Angeles, then it should fight any NIMBYism that threatens the quality of life of the voting and taxpaying majority - no matter what guise or form it takes.

Now that it is clear that the Burbank-Chandler right-of-way will be used for mass transit, Valleyites should immediately push state politicians to reverse the Robbins bill to ensure that taxpayer money funds a light rail - even if it only reaches half the distance a busway would - to build necessary infrastructure right the first time.

If we could figure out the concept of spending taxpayer money appropriately in ``the liberal Westside,'' then certainly the Valley can do the same as well.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Mar 8, 2002
Words:585
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