More Trains, Fewer Planes


There is no question that we need a complete revamping of our air traffic control system ["Fixing the Air Traffic Mess," September 17].

But the roots of the problem are far too many flights in traffic patterns and taking off and landing at major airports. With the exception of the Northeast corridor, our national transportation system is essentially a bimodal system, almost totally dependent on highways and airways to get people where they want to go. The airlines are trying to serve an almost infinite number of destinations that could be more efficiently served by hub-and-spoke networks of high-speed trains with far less noise and pollution and more comfort for passengers. With such a system, we could reduce the number of short-haul flights substantially, thereby freeing up gates and airspace for long- haul domestic and international flights with a consequent improvement in on-time performance. We are already 30 years behind in funding and building a modern rail network.

Ray C. Lawrence