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July 30 - August 6, 2008

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Letters to the Editor

Nice Idea, But ...

ED PORTER'S vision for Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) in Santa Cruz ("Unpaved New World," News&Views, July 30) is certainly something that is worth exploring. Point-to-point rapid transit would be fantastic to see working; if such a system went on the ballot I wouldn't vote against it.My concern with PRT is that a system here would be, in software terms, a "1.0" version. Hard to get right the first time—and guess who foots the bill to improve it until it's a "2.0"? If a recent PRT system was proven to be working in another city it would be a no-brainer. But even basic issues like having the right amount of PRT pods at the right station at the right time don't have comprehensive solutions. It could be a great solution—or an expensive money sink for the city. The risks are high with technology that isn't proven with a full-scale implementation.

There are proven alternatives to PRT. I have long been a fan of implementing a relatively inexpensive technology that lends itself well to places like the busy Highway 1 to UCSC corridor. Encinal Street near Harvey West—right near Highway 1 and Highway 9—is actually quite close to the UCSC East Remote Parking Lot. The 4,000-foot run and 1,000 feet of elevation gain could be quickly and economically handled by six-person detachable gondolas.

Fast, silent and proven, these aerial lifts have a minimal environmental impact. Cities like Medellin in Colombia use them for public transit, and resorts all over the U.S. (Mammoth, Telluride, Squaw Valley and many more) run their lifts in summer for transit and for bicycle lift service—a potential profit center and tourist attraction, should we want it. Santa Cruz should join cities like Prague, Wellington (New Zealand), Cologne, Zurich and Portland: all have lifts to their universities.

Quinn McLaughlin,

Santa Cruz

Beware the Boondoggle!

READING ABOUT Councilman Ed Porter's plans to bring Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) to Santa Cruz reminded me when former Minneapolis Councilman Dean Zimmermann was trying to get Minneapolis to invest millions of dollars in PRT research. Zimmermann, also a member of the Green Party, was convicted of bribery in 2006. Zimmermann even tried to use PRT to scam the FBI witness out of $250,000. PRT is an infeasible, Nixon-era concept promoted by crackpots and scam artists.There are no true PRT systems in revenue service anywhere in the world—only experimental prototypes. Citizens and taxpayers of Santa Cruz, beware of the PRT boondoggle.

Ken Avidor,


How Soon Would Jesus Withdraw?

THINK OF THAT Pakistani father strangling his own daughter because she wanted out of his marriage arrangement for her, shaming the father's honor. Honor or face, what would you call it?Think of Nixon and Kissinger, after it was decided to get out of Vietman, dragging out that process so long, so agonizingly long that thousands more undoubtedly died, while they tried to put a better face on it for "Peace with honor."

Sen. McCain is using the same expression. What does it mean? Much more death and suffering, for one thing. And poverty here.

Iraq's elected leader has called for our troops' staged withdrawal. The vast majority of his people and our people want it. Obama has promised it—carefully executed.

Most of the world will not honor the Iraq chapter of our history too much whether we close it or stay on, but many of us honor the words of Jesus: "Put up your sword/ where it belongs. All who take the sword die by the sword."

Carol Straus,

Santa Cruz

Another Fan in France

IT'S WONDERFUL to read about Marin Alsop gushing about her orchestra and about the different composers and their comments ("Sparkle of the New," Arts, July 30). Even this far away, one feels the excitement.However, I'm surprised by John Corigliano's explanation of the Mannheim Rocket. I had always understood, from my music teachers, that it was simply the crescendo. The saga continues ...

L.M. Birden,

Dijon, France

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