I recently wrote city Councilman Bill Peduto in strong support of his campaign to expand commuter rail service ("All Aboard the East End Express?" Dec. 29). He requested I forward the same comments to you.
There is nothing we need more. The "T" is fine but leaves out the northern and eastern regions of our county entirely. I was delighted to discover that Mr. Peduto is cognizant of the surprising number of small, little-used railways that thread through our county and has detailed maps of them all on the walls of his office.
The route from Downtown to Oakland is the best place to start, but there are many more. The Allegheny Valley Railroad from the Strip to New Kensington is but another example. It was a commuter railway in the past. The hard and expensive work of obtaining rights of way, of routing and of grading the land have been done. We must preserve these lest they dissolve into bike trails that serve but a minuscule fraction of the population.
Commuter rail is fuel efficient over those big, lumbering buses. Maintenance is far lower. It takes traffic off the streets and is therefore faster for those who ride -- and safer. Communities with extensive rail systems prosper more and have fewer transit problems by far than those without.
We're in a false lull right now with low gas prices, making Mr. Peduto's case a harder sell, but make no mistake: The high gas prices are coming back. Everyone has tried just about everything else to revitalize Pittsburgh -- except this. Commuter rail is the thing to do for Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.