Friday, October 17, 2008

Altogether Now: Population and # of Cars Will Increase; with Rail, Car Growth Can Be Less

One of the arguments thrown at rail supporters is that the rail system won’t “solve” the congestion problem on our roads. The follow-up often is: “What’s the point of spending all that money on a non-solution?” The answer, of course, is that the money will be spent on an alternative to car travel and sitting in traffic.

Let’s face it: Unless you’re prepared to pave over all the remaining open space on Oahu, congestion during morning and afternoon rush hour is a Fact of Life and likely always will be. There’s only so much space on this island between the mountains and the sea, and despite the billions of dollars that will be spent on highway and road improvements in the next two decades, traffic is here to stay.

That’s the natural conclusion when you consider that Oahu’s population is expected to increase by nearly 200,000 souls by 2030, most of the growth because residents will have babies. Ninety-two percent of that growth will be within the urban corridor between Kapolei and its vicinity and town.

The Avoidance Alternative

With those demographics, it has been obvious to the City’s leaders for decades that a grade-separated transit system running through the heart of that corridor is the logical way to complement the other modes of transportation on the island – car, bus, bicycles, boat, whatever.

But grade-separated transit is transportation of a different sort altogether. It’s the only way of moving through our city that is completely immune to traffic congestion. As we’ve said here repeatedly, grade-separated transit is the only mode that allows you to accurately predict your arrival time, every time you travel. You can’t do that any other way.

So rather than being a “solution” to traffic, Honolulu’s steel wheel system will be the alternative way of traveling that will restore mobility for our citizens. You may not take the train every day, but the cost-savings and convenience of traveling by train will be a no-brainer for thousands of island commuters. And if you absolutely, positively must arrive across town on time, taking the train will guarantee your timely arrival.

Oh, yeah. About growth in the number of cars and the resulting impact on traffic congestion…. The City’s Alternatives Analysis predicts there will be 11 percent fewer Vehicle Hours of Delay with transit than without it (Page 3-22).

Community Update Meetings

Here’s the schedule for the remaining Community Update meetings on the Honolulu Rail Transit Project:

• Tuesday, 10/21 – 6 to 8, Blaisdell – Hawaii Suite, 777 Ward Avenue, Honolulu.

• Wednesday, 10/22 – 6 to 8, Farrington High School, 1564 North King Street, Honolulu.

• Thursday, 10/23 – 6 to 8, Mililani Waena Elementary, 95-502 Kipapa Drive, Mililani.

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