Monday, August 16, 2010

Dissecting the Rail Debate To Hear What’s Missing

Sorry for being repetitious about the point we’re making again today, but rail’s opponents are repeating themselves on this same issue in their attempt to kill the project. It’s only natural we’d do the same.

Here’s the point: As we’ve suggested here for the past month or so regarding rail opponent Cliff Slater, anti-railers like him blast the project using selected and misleading debate points. In so doing, they misinform the citizenry about rail and its future benefits.

Mr. Slater is fond of saying traffic will be worse with rail than without it, not bothering to mention until pressed that traffic congestion will be less with rail than what it would grow to if the project weren’t built.

Others have said traffic will be reduced from 2030 levels by only 1 percent with the project in place. What they don’t tell you is that 100-percent relief from traffic congestion will be enjoyed by those who ride the train – relief that isn’t possible without grade-separated transit.

They don’t tell you that one of the project’s goals is to provide transportation equity for the aged and low-income populations by increasing their access to safe, frequent and reliable public transportation. Rail will achieve that goal; continued reliance on the private car won’t.

They don’t tell their audiences that their favorite transportation idea – a reversible elevated highway – won’t reduce dependence on the private car and won’t free car commuters from traffic congestion at both ends of such a highway. They won’t address what the FEIS covers so well – that traffic bottlenecks at both ends of the elevated highway will impede the car commute and lose whatever time advantage might have been gained.

And they sure don’t address the issue of future gasoline price increases that car-driving commuters will have to absorb – increases that are sure to happen in the decades ahead. Rail commuting will be embraced by increasing numbers of commuters for that reason alone, but they’ll also welcome the time saved on each trip by rail, as well as the positive environmental message riding public transit sends.

The savvy news consumer is discerning enough to discard the sound bites and listen closely to what’s not said in any given issue. The rail project is no different from the rest.


Anonymous said...

You argue in circles.

Rail also ends at the end of the track, just like a freeway does. But with a car, you can still go places.

Rail is not a substitute for a car.

Rail will take money that could be used to develop parking lots, better freeways, and it will invite more people from the Mainland who cannot afford a car, and increase the homeless problem.

In Hawaii, a homeless can survive the winters. Rail caters to those people, as a high cost for the rest of Oahu.

How is Kaneohe served? It isn't. (that would be more money, still.)

Doug Carlson said...

Here's what you're missing, Anonymous: Rail is not intended to be a substitute for all the trips you have to make in your car. The person who drives to scattered locations each day probably isn't going to use the train. People whose daily trip is essentially a commute from one place to another and back again will find rail completely reasonable. You seem to suggest we need more parking lots and more freeways. You might want to test that idea around town. I doubt there'd be much if any support.

Re your assessment that the train would increase Oahu's homeless problem, sorry -- just can't buy it.