Thursday, October 9, 2008

Need To Know Info: the True Cost of HOT Lanes, Transit’s Multiplier Effect, and 11,000 New Jobs

Here are some facts about the Honolulu steel wheel system for citizens still looking for information.

HOT Lanes and Tolls

Proponents of HOT lanes as an alternative to the proposed transit system almost always use the acronym – HOT – rather than spell out "high occupancy toll." That’s because T obviously stands for Tolls. Drivers willing to pay the toll gain access to the lanes, and those who don’t, don’t. The Orange County, California HOT lanes cost $10 each way during rush hour; drivers willing to pay $20 per round trip during rush hour can use the lanes, but if you’re not willing to shell out an additional $100 per week, you’re stuck in surface traffic because there’s no alternative to traffic in Orange County. The alternative to being stuck in traffic between ewa and downtown will be the steel wheel system, which will carry commuters above surface congestion without the costs of HOT lane tolls, gasoline, vehicle maintenance and parking.

Federal Support

Another detail HOT lane proponents don’t like to mention is that there’s no money to pay for it. The ½ percent increase in the general excise tax is now being collected for the steel wheel system; those funds are prohibited from being used on any other project. Consider, too, the fact that federal money will pay for a big chunk of the project. The Federal Transit Administration shows a clear preference in supporting steel wheel projects; 56 of the 62 projects the FTA has funded since 1992 have been steel.

How to Save a Bundle

When a family eliminates one car from its household, the annual estimated savings is $11,000. Families who choose to take advantage of transit-oriented development and live near a station will find train commuting so convenient that many likely will see no need for a second car.

Six Is the Magic Number

The estimated “multiplier effect” of investment in a major project like Honolulu’s steel wheel system is six. That is, for every dollar invested in the system, the positive economic impact on the community is expected to be six dollars thanks to job creation, transit-oriented development and similar benefits.

Boosting the Economy

And speaking of jobs, the Honolulu steel wheel system is expected to create 7,500 direct and indirect jobs during its construction. That translates to over 90,000 “person years” of employment; i.e., that’s how many total years of employment will be generated for everyone working on the project.

You Want More?

Stop by the 44th Annual Food and New Products Show at the Blaisdell Exhibition Hall this weekend. The Honolulu transit system will have a booth, and representatives will answer your questions about the project. The Show runs Friday from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 to 5.

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