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Letters are posted as we receive them during the week, and before they are printed in the paper, so check back frequently to see new letters. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor, use this postmarks submission form, or email your letter directly to mail@austinchronicle.com. Thanks for your patience.
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Priorities!

RECEIVED Mon., May 2, 2016

Dear Editor,
    I strongly agree with Amy Kamp ["Notes on Kamp: Will Austin Ever Get Smart About Public Transportation?" News, April 22] and Mary Lou Gibson ["Start Smart Now," Feedback, April 29] that Austin should prioritize improving our public transit. The Smart City grant application, available online, is focused on high-tech apps and data centers. The references to transit involve improved software and apps; circulators at the airport; electric, and possibly automated, buses; and park-and-rides or “hubs” designed primarily for suburban commuters. While these measures may be helpful, they are by no means the top priorities for improving transit.
    The grant application claims that it will address equity, but there are no specifics, and, as Kamp says, people with less money often don't have smartphones and can't afford TNCs or higher-cost transit. Early adopters of high-tech are people of means. I encourage the Chronicle staff to read the application and ask for details on how it would impact transit and equity.
    There are a number of things the city can do to improve transit, including, transit priority lanes and signaling, improved access and shelter at stations, land use designed to improve transit access, bond measures for capital projects, and direct contributions to Cap Metro operating costs, which we did briefly for the Red Line. Directing time and resources toward the Smart City grant (the application includes hiring new staff) would not be the best way to improve transit or transportation affordability.
Susan Pantell

No Such Luck

RECEIVED Fri., April 29, 2016

Dear Editor,
    I picked up the April 29 issue of the Chronicle, turned to the Editorial, and imagine my surprise to see the subheading first: "When someone is lying to you about something, it is usually best not to endorse and empower them" [“Page Two: The Problem With Prop. 1”] Wow, I thought, an article about Hillary, and the stories she's spun about a nasty video causing the Benghazi attack, and her cluelessness regarding the coming and going of her email.
    Nope, no such luck. It's another in an apparently unending line of articles urging us to vote against Uber/Lyft and for the local taxi monopoly. Oh well; maybe next week.
David Goodwin

Rideshare Saves Lives

RECEIVED Thu., April 28, 2016

Dear Editor,
    The Chronicle has maintained a strong stance in favor of Proposition 1, which would increase regulation on ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft. Though the Chronicle has offered some compelling arguments in favor of regulation, it has not adequately addressed what I see as the strongest argument against regulation: Ridesharing saves lives by decreasing drunk driving.
    Increased regulation will likely lower the availability of ridesharing services, and, at worst, will drive them entirely out of Austin. While allowing these companies to “regulate themselves” may have its own disadvantages (be it driver-quality or labor issues), isn’t it possible that these are outweighed by the potential of these services to save lives? Last year over 1,400 lives were lost on Texas roads as a result of drinking and driving, and evidence suggests that ridesharing programs have significantly decreased the death toll percentage in Austin. I would be curious to hear how the Chronicle addresses this aspect of the issue, as without doing so, the Chronicle’s current stance in favor of Proposition 1 appears to be irresponsible and potentially dangerous.
Mike Franz
   [Editor-in-Chief Kimberley Jones responds: Afraid you're misinformed, Mike. The Chronicle has maintained a strong stance against Proposition 1 – see our Endorsement – and in fact, in his April 29 "Public Notice" column, Publisher Nick Barbaro looked closely at ridesharing advocates' repeated claims that transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft "save lives." To echo statistician Matt Hersh's recent study: "[T]aking into account that DWI-related accidents were on the decline before Uber started operating in any meaningful way, there is no evidence of a correlation between TNCs and DWI-related accidents or DWI arrests in Austin."]
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