Solutions for air gridlock

The article ``Wanted: new airports to ease gridlock of increasing air travel,'' Sept. 21, makes no mention of alternative ways of solving at least part of the growing air and airport congestion problem: an improvement and expansion of passenger rail service. The Reagan administration, in particular, has been unsupportive of rail transportation, in keeping with its policy of discouraging government subsidies. But the air industry receives vast federal, state, and local ``subsidies.''

It would seem sensible for an objective study to be made, comparing the costs of expanding air travel facilities (of which airport construction is only a part) with those of improving the US rail network.

Even with its deteriorating roadbeds and aging cars, Amtrak continues to provide surprisingly good service, particularly in the Eastern corridor (Washington-New York-Boston). Certainly, an improvement in rail facilities between nearby cities would not only reduce air congestion but, in many cases, actually reduce travel time. Paul Stahnke McLean, Va.

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While politicians and the public realize that a vast expansion in the public transportation system is necessary, the thought of higher taxes and the loss of such privileges as driving to and fro as we please makes reform impossible. The task of solving the transportation problem lies mostly in convincing the public that concessions for the future are a must. To ensure further economic growth in a country becoming rapidly decentralized, a tax increase for public transportation is simply preventive maintenance, and the promotion of existing and future transportation systems is imperative. Jonathan Grant Santa Cruz, Calif.

Proponents of airport expansion ignore the need to curb the resolute land gobbling by the flying industry. This is fueled by huge subsidies at taxpayer expense and special privileges granted by government. Government must assume air traffic control responsibilities. But airports should be charged the full costs for the service. Let the industry pay its own way.

If the airlines and airports were required to pay the full taxes and costs for government services, air fares would go up and lessen the traffic problem. Subsidy loss would encourage more economical use of time and space. Higher landing charges would be expected for rush hour landings and takeoffs, spreading the traffic pressures; many short flights would be abandoned.

Railroads pay property taxes and on a fair tax field could compete with airlines on runs of up to about 300 miles, carrying passengers from city center to city center.

The railway postal service could be revived. Mail could be sorted en route and ready for distribution on arrival. The railway post office could pick up and drop off mail at city stations along the way.

Simply throwing more money and land into airports is not the only way to fight the problem of crowded runways and airlines. Robert Adams Mooresville, Ind.

A deficit of will An emphatic hooray for Rushworth M. Kidder's column ``US foreign aid goals focus on literacy and global poverty,'' Aug. 22, in favor of the Global Poverty Reduction Act! All men and women deserve the opportunity to become self-reliant, contributing members of the world.

This legislation shows practical care for people throughout the world by using US development aid more sensibly and effectively.

Legislators who are courageous enough to cut through ``decades of confusion'' and focus on the ``core of the problem'' deserve support.

As Martin Luther King said, ``Why should there be hunger and privation in any land, in any city, at any table, when man has the resources and the scientific know-how to provide all mankind with the basic necessities of life...? There is no deficit in human resources, the deficit is will.'' Tiena Hess Laguna Niguel, Calif.

Mr. Kidder makes the Global Poverty Reduction Act sound like the answer to a concerned taxpayer's prayer. This act helps ensure that US foreign aid is spent to help eradicate the worst aspects of poverty by the year 2000. I am delighted that Michael Dukakis has endorsed the act. George Bush has not yet supported this legislation and should be urged to do so. Accountability for $14.4 billion spent on foreign aid must be dear to the heart of any fiscally responsible presidential candidate. Edith Bibro-Cassidy Bridgeport, Conn.

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