Letters: Mass Transit, Rosanne Cash

Scott Simon reads from listeners' e-mail. Topics include coverage of a report on mass transit called "A Desire Named Streetcar" and an interview with Rosanne Cash.


Time for letters. Last week, we spoke with Randall O'Toole about his study for the Cato Institute called A Desire Named Streetcar. Mr. O'Toole said too much federal money has been wasted on expensive light rail and subway systems around the country when bus lines would serve more people. That conversation prompted a wave of letters, including one from William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association.

Mr. Millar wrote, in the last three years, citizens approved 75 percent of the transit measures on ballots nationwide, voting to tax themselves to invest in public transit services. Citizens are saying they want a transportation system that gives people travel options, including buses, light rail, and subways. In that interview, Mr. O'Toole said lawmakers like paying for rail systems because train stations can be named after them. He said that a rail transit stop in San Jose, California is named for Norm Mineta, the former mayor and congressman, who is not transportation secretary.

But there apparently is not transit stop in San Jose named after Mr. Mineta. Eric Rosenberg of San Jose wrote to say that the airport is named after him. There is however a transit stop named for Ron Dieradon(ph), a former county supervisor.

And Joseph Schofer(ph) of Evanston wondered why the title of Mr. O'Toole's study is A Desire Named Streetcar when there was a similar report published in 1992 by Don H. Pickril(ph). Mr. O'Toole says the title's been used dozens, perhaps hundreds of times before. When the Cato report came out, Don Pickril himself emailed me saying, I particularly liked your history of the federal subsidy program and your recommendations for reforming it. Obviously, he wasn't worried about the title.

Finally, last week we spoke with Roseanne Cash about her new album Black Cadillac. Frank Mikel(ph) wrote, the interview with Ms. Cash had an emotional impact on me like nothing else. When the vintage recording of Johnny Cash calling Roseanne was played, and Roseanne as a small child responded, I exploded in tears.

(Soundbite of Johnny Cash music):

SIMON: Go to NPR.org and click on contact us to write us, and tell us where you live and how to say your name.

(Soundbite of music)

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