Sunday, June 25, 2006

Activists: Government should spend $50 million so illegal aliens can move about the nation’s capital more readily
Metro ponders signs in Spanish

Metrorail officials are considering adding permanent Spanish-language signs, system maps, fare-card machines and announcements in stations after a push by immigration advocates.

They say the idea has been discussed for several years within the agency's Office of Project Communications, but no official plans have been made.

The estimated cost of the changes is at least $500,000 per station [Ed – here’s a stations map] and as much as $900,000 for a large, multilevel station such as Metro Center or L'Enfant Plaza.

"It would really depend on what signs, where, what they're made of, the cost of fabricating and installing them," said Murray Bond, director of sales and marketing at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. "It's a strain on the budget, but in a business sense, by giving people better information to use the system, hopefully they'll use it more, [and] every time they use it, we get a fare."[Ed. - You mean the fare currently subsidized by local taxpayers, that one?]

The Urban Institute estimates that more than 1 million immigrants and illegal aliens live in the region, and about 40 percent of them are Hispanic. [Ed. - In other words, the vast majority of the area’s immigrants would not derive any benefit from signs written in Spanish. Additionally, no mention is made of the percentage of the Hispanic illegals who are illiterate. If you can’t read, regardless of language, the written word is useless. Perhaps we should set up special Spanish language schools so illegals can learn to read Spanish before the new signs go up.]

The region annually draws 1 million tourists from overseas, the U.S. government-run Office of Travel and Tourism Industries reports.

Immigration advocates say riders with limited English skills might have difficulty understanding how to transfer between lines or how to use fare-card machines and schedules, and they fear rebuke from Metro staff if they seek help in broken English.

"Many immigrants come from areas where they're not using a Metro system," said Kim Propeack, a spokeswoman for immigrant rights group CASA of Maryland… [Ed. - Ah yes, we’ve seen Kim Propeack and CASA of Maryland before]

Some critics say immigrants should learn English instead of urging Metro to conform, which would send the wrong message about the expectations of those who come to the country... [Ed. – What a quaint concept!]


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