Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Checking References: Prevedouros’s UH Bio Lists Research Background, but Where's Transit?

Panos D. Prevedouros, newly declared candidate for Mayor of Honolulu, is the favorite of the anti-rail crowd because of his numerous denunciations of the City’s rail project. Now that he has stepped into the political arena, his background should be subject to as much attention as any would-be governmental leader.

What’s been puzzling about the Professor’s views on transit is the absence of anything in his background to suggest he has any transit expertise. Check out his bio on a University of Hawaii web page.

Anything But Transit

Prevedouros has researched highways, traffic detectors, crossing lights, off-ramps, airports and even helicopter noise, but there’s nothing in the list of his eight research projects about transit.

Maybe there’s something in his Selected Publications. There are 17 publications on the list covering freeway tunnels, traffic counts, freeway simulations, signalized intersections, underpasses, “oversaturated isolated intersections,” accident risk, satellite telemetry, railroads in Greece, automobile ownership in Asian countries, helicopter noise, etc.

Again, there’s nothing about transit in the list. What about his Professional Activities? The list includes work involving freeway and tollway operations; airport terminals and ground access; airfield and airspace capacity and delay; traffic records and accident analysis, and so on.

Searching for the T Word

Again, there are no activities suggesting involvement with transit projects in any way. In fact, you can search the Professor’s UH page for the word “transit” and you won’t find it.

Professor Prevedouros seems decent and likeable enough, but he’s running for mayor of a city with a multi-billion-dollar budget with exceptionally shaky credentials. Judging from a bio that Preverdouros undoubtedly created and posted himself, there’s no reason to believe his high-visibility fight against transit is backed up by expertise in the field.

Back by Popular Demand

Some of the "anonymous" contributors (see Comments) want the world to know that I have a financial interest in supporting this rail project, and I want the world to know, too. Here's the paragraph from the first post back on June 30th:

Full Disclosure: I'm part of the City's public outreach effort; as a communications consultant, I'm hired by clients who want my help in telling their story and influencing public opinion. In this case, I've been hired to share my views with Honolulu residents on why building the City's transit project will be good for our island community based on my long-held convictions. I went on the team last October, but I've been writing without a client and without compensation about the importance of building a transit line here since the early 1990s. Google my name and "Honolulu transit" to find some of those uncompensated columns and letters. (In future posts, I'll link to those items, because the pro-rail arguments I made in the 1990s hold up today.)


John said...

Doug, are you going to advise the public that you are a paid consultant for the rail project?

Anonymous said...


In the interest of full disclosure, would you please state on your profile/blog page of whether or not you are being paid to blog this topic?

I think its important that people know whether your posts are paid or volunteer.

Anonymous said...

can you post a link proving mufi's qualifications as a "rail" expert? i'd rather have any civil engineer run our city than our status quo snobby politician . . .

Doug Carlson said...

In answer to the comments by John and "anonymous" regarding my status, I already disclosed exactly that in my very first post to this blog two days ago. Check out the bottom paragraph of the June 30th post, titled Full Disclosure. I have nothing to hide, including my name, and I'll make a point of posting this paragraph regularly on this blog.

Re the second "anonymous" comment, I think your attitude can be labeled "Anti-Mufi", so there's no point in suggesting that mayors and governors hire qualified people to run complicated projects. Mayor H. has done that by hiring transit experts, and based on the available evidence, Prof. Prevedouros doesn't appear to be one.

Anonymous said...

Dear Doug,

Thank you for creating this blog for rail and mass transit supporters like myself. I regularly comment on the Honolulu Star Bulletin forum in favor of rail transit. Please keep up the good work and let me know if I can be of any help.


Anonymous said...

As most people will agree there is a big difference between theoretical and practical experience. Would you want to learn business from a successful business owner or from some who teaches business, never have had to make a payroll or deal with real life issues. It is nice to live on the safe college campus and talk about experience based on studies, readings, theoretical writings, but that is not what it takes to lead. Leaders lead. CEOs run businesses. The Mayor is running on leadership and experience in governing. Dr. Prevedouros is running on theoretical knowledge which is nice on a college campus where few will challenge your ideas, but that is not the case in the real world. I applaud him for stepping forward. It is not easy. I do believe there is a big difference between a civil engineer who has numerous public works projects to show his expertise and someone who teaches engineering. Don't get me wrong both are valuable, but there is a huge difference.

Anonymous said...

Hi Doug -

The anti-rail folks keep talking about the cost, as if non-rail transportation were free.

Last time I checked, it was pretty expensive to own, insure, fuel, and even park a car. And with so many vehicles and so little space here, valuable ($) time is being spent in gridlock and searching for parking.

It would be interesting to see the cost per passenger mile of rail transportation (with walk / bike / segway /bus feeders) vs. the cost per passenger mile of personally owned vehicular transportation (i.e. car ownership + maintenance + road + home parking + work parking + insurance + fuel + time).

How much pavement is required per vehicle, anyway? That's a lot of real estate.

Has anybody done a comparison? I'm not saying all cars would be replaced by transit, but perhaps 2- or 3-car families could get by with 1 car, and it would save time and money overall.

Anonymous said...

Thankfully, a voice of reason on the Internet when it comes to rail! The anti-rail crowd has been overwhelming blogs and the comment boards of the Star-Bulletin and the Advertiser with ridiculous claims and misinformation. And let's not start with Rick Hamada's foaming at the mouth hatred of rail.

I'm glad to see someone giving information grounded in facts and research.

John said...

Thanks for the information Doug. I didn't look back to the beginning of your blog.

Anonymous said...

Good blog, Doug!

I agree with one of the anonymous comments-has anyone calculated how much land will be needed for HOT lanes? We'll need more parking spaces in downtown, the Ala Moana area, Waikiki...

The Outdoor Circle won't be happy about that, or the elevated lanes, for that matter.

firepanos said...

Have any of you out there read Prevedouro's so called "Alternative Analysis Report"? That report alone proves his lack of credibility and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

How about an analysis of Cliff Slater's so-called qualifications as a traffic expert?

Other than writing a book that attempts to debunk the fact that the auto, tire, and oil industry tried to kill early mass transit, I've never found anything.

Here's a reason to switch to the bus. I've never owned a car but have used the bus for over 35 years. If you use $4000 as a low number for the annual cost of ownership, my lifetime cost savings by not owning a car is $140,000.

Anonymous said...


You probably know this already:

Cost to own and operate the average car is over $7,000 a year. That's according to one of the rental car companies.

There are more than 710,000 vehicles registered on Oahu. That's from State DBED data.

Cost to own and operate all the cars on Oahu: $4.97 billion. That's right, the citizens of Honolulu spend enough in a single year on cars to fund the construction of a rail system.

So the term "costly" is relative. Perhaps the best source of funding for mass transit is through registration fees, auto sales and gas.

BTW, I own two cars one of which is an SUV for work. So I'm not an anti-car luddite.