Mass Transit, Not Mass Asphalt

Regarding "Costs of the Coming Road Boom" (June 9): Why are US politicians so consumed with asphalt? Those who argue that spending billions on additional lanes and new roads will someday outpace urban growth and solve transportation problems are shortsighted at best.

Mass transit networks (not just a city line or two) that use rail - elevated, underground, and streetside - are the only real long-term solution. Rep. Bud Shuster says, "Traffic creates the need for highways." He is wrong. Traffic is screaming for an alternative to gridlock - and it's not the high-occupancy vehicle lane.

Proponents of the "more-lanes-is-better" theory often argue against light rail, because they don't want to give up the freedom they have to drive in their own cars. No nation in the world has banned automobiles as a result of developing a light-rail system. We will always have the choice to drive - but at what cost?

Mark A. Banks

Redmond, Wash.

Fur still flying over feline numbers

"Fur Flies Over Rising Feline Population" (June 3) only seems to present the negative side of cats in presuming they are responsible for decimating wild bird populations. Scant mention is made of the service cats perform - rural, suburban, and urban - in controlling rodents.

The major difficulty in not curbing feline populations is with irresponsible owners - those with male cats who think it unnecessary to have them neutered. Others take in a sweet kitten and when it reaches maturity it's thrust out for someone else to take care of, or abandoned to fend for itself. Still others think it important for their children to witness the "miracle of life," without considering the consequences. During kitten season nothing is more disheartening than to go to the local market and find youngsters there with a box labeled "Free Kittens."

Jane Verner

Oceanside, Calif.

After incorrectly placing the blame for the unwanted cat population on pet abandonment and owner irresponsibility, the suggested solution to stop feral and abandoned cats from killing birds is for owners to keep their cats inside.

Surveys (for example, in San Jose, Calif.) reveal that owned cats only have an estimated 50 percent of kittens required to replace owned cats that die. It is backdoor-fed cats that supply this deficiency, and additionally a surplus birth rate over the natural death rate. To maintain a constant population, the death rate is increased by shelter population-control killing.

There are two problems. First, backdoor-fed cats are a societal problem, not rightly the responsibility of the mercy feeders. To eliminate this unwanted population in a humane manner properly involves animal control doing the trapping, paying for the altering, and returning the cats to their customary places. The second problem is the feral cats that gather in colonies. The humane way to deal with these cats is the trap-test-vaccinate-alter-release (TTVAR) method discussed in the article.

Lewis Plumb

Paradise, Calif.

A toned-down Looney

Earlier this year, after Douglas S. Looney started sports reporting for the Monitor, I e-mailed my criticisms of the off-hand and smart-aleck way he was making comments in his articles. I had e-mailed the Monitor, and Mr. Looney, advising that his style of writing was quite inappropriate for the paper. To date, Looney has toned down his style of comments. I appreciate his consideration in writing more appropriately for the Monitor.

Richard Marcotte

Parker, Texas

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