Columnist Daniel Rubin's observations on SEPTA are right (April 18 and 26). SEPTA is not to blame for the lack of a regional transportation policy or for irregular funding. Its management has a tough job. But lack of clear directions can't be blamed on someone else.
In my experience with the airport line, token machines arrive, they don't take the new $20 bill, so where to get a ticket? No signs. Where are the sales pitch and instructions to take SEPTA from the airport ("Save $20 on your taxi fare, take SEPTA to 30th Street Station, transfer to Amtrak or other SEPTA lines," etc.)? You do not have to speak the local language in Paris or Stuttgart to find your way through the transportation system.
As for Suburban Station, I can't even find my way out. And where is the secret line that runs to the ballpark? Welcome to Philadelphia, and good luck, buddy.
The discussion of Philadelphia's murder rate is focusing on immediate solutions, such as more police in the streets, town watches and strengthening the schools. All are necessary, especially improvements to the school system.
On the other hand, I believe the real solution to poverty and crime lies in long-term cultural changes within the community. Young people must be taught by their parents to value education, make wise choices, and achieve committed relationships before bearing children. Teenage pregnancy and parenthood trap too many people in poverty.
Parents, politicians, community leaders, social service agencies, and churches must take the lead in emphasizing the importance of committed relationships in raising successful children.
Young people should delay childbearing until they have been able to get as much education as possible beyond high school, including college or trade school. Ideally, they should have joined the workforce, lived on their own, paid bills, and understand what it takes to be in control of their lives. I do not hear this message coming from anyone right now.
I have followed with interest the Inquirer articles on Tom Knox and his qualifications to be Philadelphia's mayor. As founder and former artistic director of the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia (Concerto Soloists) I interacted with him for years and want to offer a first-hand perspective.
Tom Knox was co-chairman of my orchestra's board from 1997 to 2004 and served with distinction. His thorough understanding of finances and the advice he gave the board were very important to the orchestra's successful operation.
Knox is a genuinely kind and caring person. While he may have ruffled a few feathers along the way, he was never mean-spirited. It was more an impatience to see things done the right way. Knox is a strong, no-nonsense leader, and I believe his business acumen and straightforwardness are exactly what our city needs at this time.
I endorsed Michael Nutter for Philadelphia mayor before The Inquirer did. I wear a badge and mailed a check. By the way, I'm white. I'd vote for Nutter even if he were white.
Free the toll-takers!
One of the reasons our recent road trip down south was so pleasant was because North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia allow traffic to flow unimpeded by toll booths.
Adding a nickel to the gas tax would be a simple way to improve traffic flow; reduce gas consumption; reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases; reduce subsidies to terrorists; send fewer dollars to the Middle East; reduce the trade deficit; and free toll collectors from their prison walls.