In Lyndsey Layton's July 9 Metro article, "Metro Expects More Deficits," Metro board member David A. Catania tells us that it is time for local governments to "step up to the plate" to avoid yet another fare increase.

The time for local authorities to step up was years ago. Somehow, politicians in our area convinced us that we could increase our region's reliance on Metro, even plan whole communities around it, without paying an extra dime.

Even as Metro's managers warn that a near-collapse of the regional transit system is around the corner, they have taken some of the money generated by fare increases and refunded it to local jurisdictions. Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan accepts these funds, while simultaneously touting his new "transit-oriented" developments in Silver Spring and elsewhere. He doesn't seem to realize that unless his government and its taxpayers begin pulling their own economic weight, these transit-dependent areas will crumble right along with Metro itself.

Transit benefits even those who do not use it by reducing congestion, pollution and dependence on oil. If the citizens of the metro area have been expecting something for nothing all this time, they -- and their political leaders -- are in for a rude surprise.

BLANDON RAY

Silver Spring