Salaciousness in Washington trumps Americans’ concerns

I enjoyed reading The Hill until the article “Dems are bringing sexy back” (Capital Living section, May 16) caught my attention. With so many issues to discuss, couldn’t the reporter push the edge and write about something more meaningful and with substance? I now believe that issues that are of concern to the American people no longer are concerns of
Washington. …

I understand now why it took my congressman’s aide a couple of months to answer a letter and why whenever I call his office in D.C. I get an answering machine.

~From Corinne Rodriguez, Albuquerque, N.M.

Transit-funding rules hurt the working poor

I read with interest Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) op-ed “Promoting public transit for energy independence” (May 10), but due to federal rules, small transit systems such as Red Rose Transit Authority are being forced to eliminate service just because their urbanized area went over 200,000 in population.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas) have been battling this issue for over two years and introduced legislation in both Houses in January (H.R. 734 and S. 406) that would basically allow transit systems that operate in urbanized areas over 200,000 and run fewer than 100 peak buses to retain flexibility in how they use their federal funds.

There are over 130 transit systems nationwide that would benefit from this legislation without costing the federal government another penny. We just want the ability to use the funding we get to continue to operate service. You would think keeping people working is better than forcing them to go on welfare, but that is obviously to logical for Washington to deal with. Over 50 percent of trips made on public transit are for work by many who have no cars or any other means of transportation. ...

The average size of transit systems affected by this operate 37 peak buses, so we are not large enough to make up the loss of operating assistance through preventive maintenance like the big systems do. It appears that the belief of those opposed to this on the Hill is that by phasing the funds out we should have had enough time to plan for it and get funds from somewhere else. Reality does not come in to play in Washington, because the states and local governments are having as much trouble financially as we are...

This is the real story that is happening across the country just because a few senators are philosophically opposed to funding transit operations. By the way, these same senators have no problem subsidizing highways — because, after all, driving a car is an entitlement regardless of the expense to the taxpayer. If Congress was truly serious about lessening dependence on foreign oil, reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality and getting people to work, I would not be proposing to reduce transit service in Lancaster, Pa., by 20 percent. They should come to my public meetings and look people in the eye and tell them they are going to lose their job because they are philosophically opposed to them working.

~ From David W. Kilmer, executive director, Red Rose Transit Authority, Lancaster, Pa.