Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mining the Alternatives Analysis for “Headways”

Just about all the factual information you could want on the Honolulu steel wheel system is found in the Alternatives Analysis prepared for the project. Delve into the AA and you’ll eventually find a subject sure to interest future riders – headways, or the time between trains.

The shorter the headways, the better commuters like it, so how often will the trains run between the ewa side and Ala Moana Center? Imagine that you’re a regular rider on the completed system in a dozen years. As you step off a feeder bus at the station near the UH-West Oahu campus, you see a train just leaving toward town on the overhead track.

You can pick out the first-time riders by their frustration for having just missed the train. But you know it “ain’t no big thing,” because another train will be along in only 3 minutes. The headways in both the morning and evening rush hours will be that short, so there’s almost no waiting at all between 6 and 9 a.m. and 3 and 6 in the afternoon. Headways on either side of the rush hours aren’t much longer – 6 minutes – and they increase to 10 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Your train pulls into the station in a couple minutes; you take out your ThinkPad laptop to catch up on the news.  Because it’s 2020, it really IS a ThinkPad. You just think about which newspaper you want to read online and it comes up on the screen.

OK, we’re only guessing about that, but the part about headways? Count on it.


sumwonyuno said...

You probably would have received a comment from a rail critic sooner or later for this post, saying trains would pass any point on the route 400 times a day (both directions). I guess I've beaten them to it. Stop Rail Now's main office is one block up from the future Halekauwila rail station. They did that "train noise simulation" recently, to scare people in Kakaako. Blasting 80-decibel screeches and whooshes at ground level, through one of the quieter streets the rail will go through, is quite disingenuous. It isn't a fair comparison to a train on a structure 30 feet above. Without mitigation, trains are already quieter than today's diesel buses. The City already has hybrid buses, which are notably quieter, and will probably purchase electric/fuel cell buses in the future. At that point, the comparison of noise will be ones from the vehicle moving. Trains can be more aerodynamic, while buses are generally confined to a rectangular shape.

Now why do I say this? The streets that rail goes over has hundreds to thousands of cars and many buses travelling on them each day. One would most likely not notice the sound of every single one of the 400 train pass-by's. I remember one time Dr. Prevedouros bringing up the possibility that vibrations from the trains might damage sensitive UH equipment. Hawai'i experienced an earthquake not too long ago and I haven't heard any news that there was any damage at UH. The H-1 Freeway passes by the campus and its constant streams of vehicles have not thrown off such accurate devices.

What will most likely happen is the demand for living and working around stations will have great benefits who have the chance. The predictability of a grade-separated transit system will lure many people. Even if people have to still take buses, their train trip would be a better experience than a comparable trip on the ground on a bus.

Doug Carlson said...

Mahalo for your comment, sumwonyuno, and thanks for dropping in on this blog frequently. Your comments add considerable value, so please leave them often.

sumwonyuno said...

No problem, Doug, and it's a pleasure to express my views on the issues relating to the rail.

Keep on working on making this project a reality!