Some rail supporters undoubtedly shouted back at their TV sets last night as the Governor glowingly supported putting half of Honolulu’s system at ground level. Host and Star-Bulletin reporter Richard Borreca not once challenged the Governor about her preference for slow, neighborhood-disrupting, costly, accident-prone and therefore unreliable at-grade rail.
For reasons described in great detail by federal and local officials, transit experts, citizens and plain old bloggers, at-grade rail can’t possibly provide the kind of transportation Honolulu commuters need – fast, frequent, reliable and safe service. (You’re invited to slog through any number of posts here at Yes2Rail to read about each of these grade-separated attributes.)
The most puzzling thing about the Governor’s comments last night was her apparent obliviousness to the reasons why building any part of Honolulu’s system at ground level would spell failure. For example, does she not know about the accidents that affect at-grade systems wherever they’re built?
It makes you wonder about whether important information is actually reaching the Governor. If her aides were doing their jobs right, they’d be exposing her to diverse views about the project, but she shows no sign of having been exposed to at-grade’s negatives.
Also, despite the several strong statements of support by Washington for Honolulu’s rail project, she continues to suggest federal officials have major reservations about rail's financing plan.
So maybe it’s not so much about the Governor’s views as it is about her distractions and the quality of her support system. That’s about as charitable as we’re prepared to be.