Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Charlotte Rail Foretells Honolulu Rail’s Success

You have to admire the rock-ribbed doggedness of rail transit's most intransigent opponents here. They bought into the 20th Century supremacy of the private automobile in their youth and continue their love affair with a technology that has big negatives along with its benefits.

Urban sprawl is one of those downsides. The Sierra Club’s policy on a national level is summarized on its website: “It’s time to break America’s oil addiction.” The private automobile is the in-your-face reminder of that addiction, and transit systems are a strategy to begin the withdrawal. The Sierra Club is a strong transit advocate, both nationally and on Oahu.

Charlotte, NC is well along its path toward transit-oriented wellness, as told in this Grist piece that describes Charlotte’s environs as “car-loving NASCAR country, a vast suburbia of cul-de-sacs and strip malls. Yet its new light rail line is a national model for success, outstripping ridership projections and inspiring millions of dollars in high-density development.”

It’s a good read, and because so much planning has gone into Honolulu’s rail project, it likely predicts success for our city, whose long-and-lean geography is perfectly suited for a rail line that will serve neighborhoods throughout its 20-mile route.

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