Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mobility, Reliability, Fairness Top Transit Goals

NOTE: For information on today’s two opportunities to ask questions of experts about Honolulu’s steel wheel system, click here for times and locations.

The City has just published a new brochure that contains the FAQ’s on the system – e.g., “Why don’t we just add more buses?” and “Why won’t ‘Hot’ lanes or roadways work?” We’ll get to those and other topics soon enough but will start with the goals of the Honolulu rail transit system.

We’ve had quite a bit to say already about Goal #1 – improving mobility within the urban corridor for Honolulu citizens. Here’s what the brochure says on the subject:

“We need to get from here to there – island-wide. The roads and freeways are often congested, limiting our community’s mobility. A full-elevated, steel wheel rail transit system will be able to move thousands of people per hour without taking away the already limited highway and road space we have now.”

A to B to A Again

The majority of West Oahu residents who work in town have a relatively uncomplicated need to move from point A (home) to point B (work) and back again. Sure, there are days when they also make side trips to the cleaners or supermarket, but getting from A to B and back to A is the essential commuting experience for most of them.

The transit system will let them do that with unparalleled ease and reliability. By being completely separated from surface traffic congestion, the system’s elevated trains will stay on schedule and deliver their passengers reliably on time. Instead of gripping a steering wheel for an hour or more, commuters will travel the length of the system between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center in about 40 minutes while reading, computing, sleeping, conversing, whatever. The argument that “nobody will ride it” simply has no credibility when you consider how convenient and appealing the transit experience will be.

The Fairness Factor

Unlike the so-called HOT lane alternative, rail transit treats everyone fairly by charging only an affordable fare – the same as for TheBus and TheBoat. Working families, students, seniors and others on a budget will be able to afford the train; then, as now, a monthly pass will work system-wide.

The brochure’s Goals section wraps them up nicely:

“Rail transit, as part of an overall public transportation system, is a way to enhance Honolulu’s quality of life by easing traffic congestion, enhancing our economy, reducing pollution, and providing greater mobility for us and future generations.”

We’ll have more to say about the environmental goals in future posts.

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