If Virginia's political leaders want to prove they are moving past the mistakes of the past ["Springfield Interchange Project Is Defended," Metro, Nov. 26], there is no better opportunity than the upcoming decision on the locally preferred alternative for the Dulles transit project.

Instead of rubber-stamping the Metro board's irresponsible recommendation to pursue the $3.3 billion extension of Metrorail to Dulles while acknowledging the funds to build it are not available ["Metro Adopts Dulles Rail," Metro, Nov. 22], Gov. Mark R. Warner should require that the less expensive bus rapid transit system be advanced.

Because that system can utilize existing infrastructure, it would be faster, simpler and less costly to get into service. Most important, between previous congressional appropriations and Dulles Toll Road reserves, at least half the cost of the system is in hand. The system is affordable even in this time of budget shortfalls. Metrorail clearly is not.

Despite claims that rail is better, our independent research shows that modern bus rapid transit systems routinely carry as many people per hour as the heavy rail systems, and they do it at one-tenth the cost. Virginia should embrace the innovative technologies that can solve our urgent transportation problems.

THOMSON M. HIRST

Reston

The writer is president and founder of the Rapid Transit Action Committee.