Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Council To Vote on Airport Transit Route Today

Public opinion polling organizations try to make their surveys “scientific” and reliable, with a sampling margin of error of only 4 or 5 percentage points when applied to the entire population. But unscientific polls are everywhere – daily on CNN and other news channels, at online newspaper sites and elsewhere.

Anybody can be an unscientific pollster; you just ask your question and draw conclusions. Their results can’t reliably predict an entire population’s attitudes, but unscientific polls can be revealing in their own right and sometimes reflect a community’s beliefs.

Take the routing of the Honolulu rail transit project and whether it should go along Salt Lake Boulevard or parallel Nimitz Highway past Honolulu International Airport between Aloha Stadium and Dillingham Boulevard. That issue is expected to be resolved today when the City Council takes up a resolution to change the route from the current on-paper Salt Lake alignment and switch it to the airport.

Be a pollster yourself and ask friends and acquaintances this question:

“Should the Honolulu rail transit line run past the airport?”

Our own unscientific polling on that question over the past several months has found overwhelming support for running the line past Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base and the airport instead of along Salt Lake Boulevard.

The people we talk to nearly always say local residents and tourists alike could use the train to go to and from the airport. The airport route would be convenient for Pearl Harbor, Hickam and airport employees, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the project predicts higher ridership than the Salt Lake alignment.

The airport route would be more expensive, but many respondents think the federal government eventually will kick in the additional $200 million it would cost, perhaps as part of a federal stimulus package. Links to all the DEIS chapters can be found at our December 4th post, which also has instructions on how to submit comments on the document.

If the Council does vote one way or the other today, a major hurdle will have been cleared in moving this project forward. Most observers predict a pro-airport vote. What does your poll say?

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