Watsonville deserves rail and trail
To the Editor,
At the Sierra Club’s Trail With Transit event at the Watsonville Civic Plaza on June 28, those vocal fellows who want no public transit use on the publicly-owned train tracks did not come down to harass the occasion, as they have at many North County events. Maybe because they guessed their objection would not be warmly received?
“Hey Watsonville,” they’d have to argue, “You don’t really want a pleasant, scenic, schedule-certain and affordable public transit line on which you can sit down, kick back, and be in Santa Cruz in 39 minutes, as a congestion-free, car-free alternative to the Highway 1 commute madness. I’m sure you’d much rather spend thousands of dollars a year and hours a day sitting in traffic in your very own solitary confinement.”
We are already building a 32-mile rail trail funded with Measure D, that’s happening now.
Caltrans is investing now in rail transit, our county contribution to a rail-only fund over 20 years is $950 million, many times the cost to implement rail transit on the 22 miles between Santa Cruz and Pajaro, and we could have that operational in 10 years if we commit today.
Greenway would have us tear out the tracks forever for a slightly wider bike-pedestrian trail that would only further isolate and marginalize Watsonville residents.
To serve everyone, a truly inclusive rail corridor solution must include electric rail transit connecting Watsonville to Santa Cruz.
U.S. has a responsibility to those seeking asylum
To the Editor,
The U.S. should be giving asylum to thousands. It has direct responsibility for the poverty, drug gangs and violence in Central America. The U.S. consistently undermines or overthrows progressive leadership that advocates for social and economic programs.
The U.S. backs the corporate elites to enjoy low taxes, control of the judiciary, monopolies, privatized prisons, water, utilities, schools, security and transportation. Big agriculture took the land. Thus, an economic stranglehold on the poor.
Guns from the U.S. flow freely into Central America; drugs flow freely into the U.S. black market, human trafficking, and drug gangs flourish. Corrupt and terrified officials collaborate. Everyone is terrified. This allows right wing governments to curtail political freedoms, decrease social spending and increase military spending.
Not only does the U.S. have a responsibility to help those suffering as a result of its policies, this scenario is playing itself out in the GOP Trump government.
Why is rail line the subject of misleading controversy?
To the Editor,
Permit me to offer a rebuttal to the editorial by Gail McNulty, executive director of Greenway (Pajaronian, June 29).
She states that urban transit is on the decline in parts of the country. In the Bay Area, that can’t be further from the truth. Existing rail lines such as the Dumbarton Bridge linking the San Francisco Peninsula with the East Bay are in the state’s master rail plan and plans to restore it for passenger/commuter rail are in the works. This plan also includes the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line between Davenport and Watsonville. In addition, the State of California is currently working with the Transportation Agency for Monterey County to extend Amtrak and Cal-Train to Watsonville (Pajaro) and Salinas.
Last year, SMART (Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit) initiated service on the former Northwestern Pacific rail line and has been overwhelmingly successful in reducing traffic on the Highway 101 corridor between Santa Rosa and San Rafael. SMART is currently expanding service to Larkspur Ferry Terminal with ridership on the line increasing as well.
Greenway has indicated they favor the increased use of buses as a way to relieve traffic congestion on Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Watsonville. Keep in mind no matter how you slice, dice or cut it, the bus will still be stuck in traffic and will not reduce the delays that drivers currently suffer from. The train is a very viable and attractive alternative and while transit buses have their place in the whole Santa Cruz County pie, they are not as desirable as a clean, environmentally sound train similar to the low emissions diesel, electric or natural gas multiple unit equipment. Another benefit of the Santa Cruz Branch is that it will offer a link to future Cal-Train and Amtrak service in Pajaro, providing a needed inter-city link to the county for commuters and travelers alike. Currently other than Greyhound, no such service exists today.
Ms. McNulty will not tell you that the restoration of passenger rail is supported by the California Coastal Commission, Caltrans and the Sierra Club. From what I read in her editorial, it seems that elitist, well-funded Greenway is politically connected to the Metropolitan Transit District which should be working to establish a bus-rail system and not be influenced by Greenway’s misguided, self-serving agenda.
In closing I wish to say: Why is a entity such as rail being met with so much misleading controversy? This seems to be the norm in the county and only serves as an impediment to an entity that benefits all.
Gary V. Plomp
Quakers support reunification of children
To the Editor,
We, the members of Live Oak Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), in Salinas, strongly oppose the separation of children from their families during immigration enforcement operations as being contrary to the will of the Divine and the historic testimonies of Friends (Quakers). We call for an immediate end to this practice, and we support the immediate reunification of children with their families.
Live Oak Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends