They can’t be drawn into discussing at-grade rail’s slow pace compared to elevated rail, its less frequent and less reliable service and, yes, its relatively poor safety record.
Point them toward the crash-a-week experience of Phoenix’s at-grade system in its first year and their reaction is, “Phoenix? I know nothing about Phoenix.”
Mention the higher operating costs of at-grade rail due to the driver requirement (unlike automated elevated rail) and they’ll feign deafness. Or remind them at-grade rail has tremendous impacts on the neighborhoods it passes through and they’ll ignore that, too.
Tell them less frequent and slower at-grade train service won’t be successful in pulling people out of their cars and they’ll change the subject.
For example, they’ll complain backers of the City’s elevated plan (like this blogger) have a "conflict of interest" without explaining what that conflict is. (See some of the comments below Yes2Rail’s March 1 post or at the link in the first graf above.)
What kind of a “conflict” can there be when my consultancy to the City to promote Honolulu's proposed rail system is displayed clearly at the top of this page and every new post? The critics' reasoning seems obtuse, and maybe it's because they just don’t understand the "conflict of interest" concept. ("We disagree; therefore, you conflict with my interest." Is that it?)
So here’s an open invitation to critics of the City’s rail system: Address the above deficiencies of your so-called at-grade alternative one by one. Try to convince someone in the middle of this argument that you’ve got it right and we proponents of elevated rail have it wrong. Tell us exactly why relatively slow, relatively inefficient, relatively unreliable and relatively crash-prone rail is what Honolulu needs.
It’s a simple challenge. Accept it, and for once, don’t change the subject.
7 pm Update: It's been 14 hours since we issued this challenge, and not one at-grade proponent has seen fit to respond. No surprise.