J. M. Stone of the Piedmont Environmental Council [letters, Oct. 5] says the solution to congestion is to "encourage creation of walkable communities near Metro stations" and "zero spending" on new roads.
It is fantasy that better planning can get any significant number of people to use rail instead of cars. Rail only makes sense for commuter trips to dense hub-and-spoke type concentrations of jobs and commercial activities.
Many attempts have been made to plan the rail/walkable communities that J. M. Stone proposes, most notably perhaps around the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) in the San Francisco Bay area. But as the University of California Transportation Center recently documented, this planning, though pursued for more than a quarter-century, has been a near total failure. Population and employment densities around BART stations have declined, and growth has occurred instead where road accessibility is good. In Berkeley, traditionally one of the most progressive communities in the nation, the people just last month rejected planners' schemes for greater density and walkable-transit concepts.
Fantasies about the revival of trolleys and rail are a distraction from the necessary hard thinking about how to improve rubber-tire transportation.