Thursday, June 24, 2010

Honolulu Rail To Serve Local Residents First

Civil Beat continues to attract attention as a non-traditional web-based news-gathering enterprise that encourages readers to comment on the site’s articles and on other readers’ comments.

The number of stories and comments on Honolulu rail has declined since Civil Beat’s launch two months ago, but there are still enough comments in the discussion area below the rail stories to prompt some attention here at Yes2Rail.

A rail skeptic wrote yesterday: “Maybe a monorail from the airport to Waikiki is all we really need?” This person isn’t the only rail opponent who faults the project's Phase One plan for not going all the way into Waikiki. They seem to think rail’s primary purpose will be to serve tourists traveling to and from Honolulu International Airport.

Filling the Need

That’s not the project’s purpose. Honolulu rail will complement existing transportation modes in the east-west corridor between the Second City on the ewa plain and town. The current lack of a grade-separated transit option leaves commuters – local tax-paying residents – with no alternative but to battle traffic on the H-1 freeway and surface roads.

One-way trips by car for many commuters can take as much as 90 minutes today and will worsen; rail travel time from East Kapolei to Ala Moana Center will be 42 minutes. When time and cost savings are compared to commuting by car, Honolulu rail is expected to attract 116,000 riders each day by 2030.

The follow-on Phase Two for Honolulu rail conceivably could extend the line into Waikiki, but that issue will be left to future City Councils and Administrations. The current project is designed to serve Oahu residents primarily for decades far into the 21st Century.
We love our tourists, but they’re not the main reason to build this system.

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