Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jogging & Keeping Pace with an At-Grade Train

Sacramento's light rail train
We’ve done some up-close-and-personal observing of why Kamehameha School’s proposal for an at-grade transit system through much of its route would not deliver fast, frequent and reliable mobility to riders.

We’re in Sacramento for a couple days and watched a light rail train make its way through downtown Sacramento yesterday. The photo shows a train turning from the K Street Mall onto 12th Street about a block from State Capitol Park.

The train’s speed – that’s not the right word; “rate of advancement” is more like it – was about as fast as a slow-to-moderate marathon runner. In other words, you could jog as fast as the train moved.

Once you see what at-grade delivers, it’s nothing short of shocking that the New Jersey consultant’s at-grade plan is being shopped all over town. It’s a recipe for failure to meet Honolulu’s needs, because it wouldn’t be fast, wouldn’t be frequent, and because accidents are virtually inevitable when transit trains are in the vehicle mix, it wouldn’t be as reliable as an elevated system.

KS’s proposal doesn’t meet the common-sense test. Next time you’re in a city with at-grade transit, do some up-close-and-personal observing of your own. Jog along with the train; observe it stopping for cross streets; listen as it rings its bell incessantly as it approaches intersections; watch as it stops at the light for traffic.

Then ask yourself: With all the twists and turns in the proposed at-grade plan, how in the world could it possibly benefit Honolulu?


Anonymous said...

I mentioned it before, but I need to mention it again--I visited Phoenix in April of this year, and the at grade rail was like a Disneyland ride!! Too slow, and the other vehicular traffic it disturbed was alarming! We need to move people fast, and get them off the road! By the way, did anyone make an assessment of the lost time spent driving, vs. sitting and working in public transportation, or just relaxing? The lost opportunity costs, have to be in the millions!

Doug Carlson said...

I just read a review of the Phoenix rail's performance and acceptance so far. It's doing better than anticipated -- about 35K riders per day. But that's only about one-third of what Honolulu's rail system will carry as it speeds commuters above the surface traffic. As they say, it's the ONLY way to fly....