Thursday, November 18, 2010

Last Night’s Commute – Another Nightmare

Wednesday night accidents prolonged homeward commutes.
We’ve had the “What riding the train will avoid” photo (at right) as a recurring graphic on this site for months, and maybe it’s time to install a new one.

Finding a replacement didn't take long. The Honolulu Traffic Cam photo above was snapped last evening and posted online after a three-car accident on the H-1 freeway between the Houghtailing and Middle Street exits.

It was just one of three crashes inside 11 minutes and within not much more than a mile on the freeway. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser says they snarled traffic for more than an hour.

On Tuesday, H-1 traffic was blocked for more than an hour at the start of the afternoon drive home after two trucks collided near Waimalu and spilled hydraulic fluid for half a mile on the freeway. As Hawaii News Now reported:

“…all eastbound lanes were closed for more than an hour leaving drivers stuck in gridlock with nowhere to go. Some people got out of their cars and even tossed a football around to pass time.”

Pardon us for making the obvious point again: Honolulu rail will make these commuting nightmares a thing of the past for those who choose to ride the train.

Only grade-separated transit, like Honolulu’s elevated system, completely avoids traffic congestion and allows riders to predict their time of arrival. You can’t do that using surface streets and the freeway.

Anti-railers are quick to insist that the majority of commuters will continue to drive. We know that; it’s no surprise in light of Americans’ decades-long car-dependent habits that drivers are loath to break. But as we noted here earlier this week, people do change their travel choices once transit’s many advantages become obvious.

Like everything else in life, riding transit will be a personal choice. Those who ride will have chosen fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation that avoids traffic blockages like the H-1 crashes that bedeviled them this week.

From the Political File

We're hearing assertions by anti-railers that the Republicans' control in the U.S. House spells doom for Honolulu rail. Today's post at is worth a couple minutes of your time to appreciate how precarious those predictions are. It quotes "Tea Party darling" Michele Bachmann (R-MN):

"This week, (Bachmann) told the Minnesota Star Tribune that she wants to redefine earmarks so that they don't include transportation earmarks. Meaning, she wants an absolute ban on earmarks, except the ones she really, really likes. 'Advocating for transportation projects for one's district, in my mind, does not equate to an earmark,' she said."

So much for having Washington all figured out.

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