Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Design Contract Awarded for Three Rail Stations

Early concept for the Leeward Community College rail station.
The Honolulu rail project is far from standing still, notwithstanding the current “stall” that has the Final Environmental Impact Statement stuck in the governor’s office.

Today’s news involves rail station design and the award of a $5.5 million to HDR/Hawaii Pacific Engineers to design three rail stations – West Loch, Waipahu Transit Center and Leeward Community College. Yesterday's announcement was exactly 10 times larger.

The City announcement said the firm has more than 7,800 professionals in more than 185 locations worldwide. Check out its website.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Federal Money Solidly On Track for Honolulu Rail

Word comes from Washington and Hawaii senior Senator Dan Inouye that the Senate Appropriations Committee has included $55 million for the Honolulu rail project in a bill to fund various transportation, housing and urban development projects here.

As noted at Yes2Rail in February, the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2011 budget had included that amount for preliminary engineering and final design of Honolulu’s system.

It was Acting Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s turn to thank Inouye, committee chair, for his continued support:

“The rail project is vital for our economy and our future, and this money will help ensure its success. This project will put thousands of our people back to work, spur private investment in transit-oriented development, help curb the growth of traffic congestion, and provide an important and affordable alternative to clogged freeways and overflowing parking lots.”

The bill now advances to the full Senate and a conference committee with the House.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cliff Slater and His Magical Words about Traffic: Rail Critic Continues his Obfuscation Campaign

We’re taking the unusual step of actually directing you to Cliff Slater’s site today for the insight it offers on how Mr. Slater continues to smokescreen his arguments against the Honolulu rail project.

Mr. Slater has convinced himself that the City’s representatives have deliberately confused the public about future congestion on Oahu’s streets and highways after rail is built.

He has taken to quoting from City Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka’s response to him in the rail Final Environmental Impact Statement. He calls Mr. Yohioka’s comment “the magic words.” Here’s the quote:

“You are correct in pointing out that traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”
He quotes officials’ comments going back two or three years and, based on his own perceptions about what the public thinks (he doesn’t explain why he thinks this), he accuses the City of not telling the truth.

Obfuscator in Chief

Just the opposite is true. Mr. Slater is the Chief Obfuscator in this debate, and we pretty much nailed that point last week in commenting on what he called his “whole argument” against rail as he himself described it in his Civil Beat interview.

Please do watch his interview in which he tells how he begins his pitch to audiences. He says traffic congestion will be greater with rail in the future than it is today, and stops then and there to ask if there are any questions.

Obviously, Mr. Slater is implying something with his rhetorical flourish -- that there’s no reason to build rail if congestion will be worse after rail is up and running. But he stops and doesn’t finish the thought:

Congestion will be worse because the number of people and vehicles on the island will be higher than today. And most importantly, he doesn’t tell his audiences what he had to admit at the City Council FEIS hearing last week – that traffic will be worse without rail than with it.

It couldn’t be any plainer: Cliff Slater deliberately misleads his audiences and, by extension, all Oahu residents with his discredited anti-rail rhetoric.

Let’s Go to the Videotape

When you read what Mr. Slater has posted at, please pay attention to the fourth and fifth paragraphs, which we’ll quote here:

“Since (the hearing) the Mayor has gone into overdrive to obfuscate the issue. Director Yoshioka, in Doug Carlson’s Yes2Rail blog responded sarcastically, ‘No kidding, in the future, traffic congestion will be greater than it is today. I don’t think that is any earth shattering news.’
“However, what Yoshioka will say in a blog is totally different from what he will say on a broadly seen medium like television.”

Perhaps Mr. Slater didn’t stick around to listen to Mr. Yoshioka’s testimony last week. What he claims Director Yoshioka said exclusively in this Yes2Rail blog was in fact what he told the City Council members at the hearing.

We transcribed both Mr. Slater’s and Mr. Yoshioka’s remarks from a tape of the “live” ‘Olelo coverage that we watched on our television set!

Mr. Slater’s Quote

Here’s something else from that hearing:

“We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all.”
Those are Mr. Slater’s words. It’s something he undoubtedly never tells his audiences, which he misleads into thinking rail would have no positive effect on traffic congestion.

What we have here is an example of what can happen when someone says something so often that he comes to actually believe it’s so – simply because he thinks it’s so.

Mr. Slater has convinced himself that the City has confused the public on this issue of future congestion. That’s his right to do so, even though there’s no evidence that the City has misled anybody on the issue of traffic congestion and how to lessen it in the future.

The undeniable truth, which even Mr. Slater concedes, is that rail will reduce congestion levels from what they would grow to be if rail were not built.

We’ll continue to follow Cliff Slater and his anti-rail cohort and examine their statements. It can only do the rail project good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

West Oahu Organization Supports Rail Project for Ability To ‘Improve Business Climate of Our Island’

Yes2Rail today continues our selected coverage of last Wednesday’s City Council hearing on the rail project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. So far we’ve contrasted a generalized generational overview of the project, the “true confessions” of a rail opponent and why a college student thinks rail will attract graduates to return to the islands.

The president of the board of the West Oahu Economic Development Association added his group's support for the project in his testimony.

Jon McKenna

Our association is made up of nearly 100 businesses, community and government leaders dedicated to supporting and advocating for the economic growth of West Oahu. Our area, as you know, is the fastest-growing population of business base in the state, with the number of businesses here doubling in the past 10 years and more to come as Kapolei builds out.
For businesses, time is money, and traffic congestion adds unnecessarily to the cost of doing business. Many of us, our employees (and) our customers have to travel regularly between downtown Honolulu and Kapolei. Delays due to traffic are more often the norm rather than the exception.
The FEIS states that it will take 38 minutes to travel from East Kapolei Station to downtown. This travel reliability and consistency will benefit our area businesses and our residents.
We strongly support the city’s elevated rail plan because it will reduce traffic congestion in the future and make it easier to travel between town and West Oahu and improve the business climate of our island.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Pro-Rail Testimony by the Next Generation; ‘I Support Rail because I Want To Return Home’

We’re mightily tempted to not add anything to Yes2Rail for a few days and leave our July 16th "True Confessions" post up here at the top of the page. That’s the one that quotes rail opponent Cliff Slater saying “…rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all….” It’s a concession we’ve been waiting decades to hear from him.

But we’re moving on to the testimony of another speaker at last Wednesday’s City Council hearing on rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. We’ve already noted a “generational contrast” between the pro-rail testifiers – young people who say “we will ride” – and members of the more senior generation that seemed inclined to oppose the project.

Today’s focus is on a local high school graduate who’s now attending college on the mainland.

Shawna Piper Jordan

I’m a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and a current student at Yale University. I support rail development in Hawaii because I want to return home. I want to have a reason to be back here. Without innovation, without a look to the future, without development that can make us a competitive force in the Pacific region and the United States, there’s no reason for students to want to come back from the mainland.
A major opposition to my reason to want to have rail development is my grandfather. He says, “Why should I pay out of my retirement money to income tax? Why should I pay for something I might not be able to benefit from?” And my answer to him and others in Hawaii who are opposed to this for those same reasons (is) that you need to look to your children.
Once they’re able to have development in Honolulu, they’ll put money into the state, and this money in the state will help to support our aging population. So support us now in this development, and we’ll support you later. Thank you.

Friday, July 16, 2010

True Confessions: Rail Opponent Concedes Transit Project Will Reduce Future Traffic Congestion

We’ve devoted much of our space this week to examining the rhetoric of Cliff Slater, the rail project’s chief opponent, and we’re doing so again today. It would appear that after 20 years of obfuscation, Mr. Slater finally has admitted the truth: Honolulu rail transit will reduce traffic congestion on Oahu.

As reported by online news service Civil Beat early this week, Mr. Slater tells his audiences that “traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today.” “That kinda sums up the whole argument,” he said, and we’ve taken pains both on Monday and Tuesday to point out the shallowness of that rhetoric.

Unfortunately for Mr. Slater, it backfired at Wednesday’s City Council hearing on rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. As we reported yesterday, Mr. Slater used his allotted time to comment on Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka’s response to him as contained in the FEIS. A Council member asked Mr. Slater to expand on that point:

Cliff Slater: “I was complaining that the City was never directly telling people that traffic congestion in the future with rail will be worse than it is today. We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all, and he was responding to that. We’ve been trying to get him to say that for the last five years, so we were somewhat overjoyed when we actually got this letter….”

'No Kidding'

Wayne Yoshioka’s response: “Just to add to that. No kidding, in the future, traffic congestion will be greater than it is today. I don’t think that’s any earth-shattering news. I think what the difference is, is that without the rail in the future, traffic congestion will be much worse than with the rail, and I think that’s the whole point of the discussion would be. It’s not appropriate to compare what the future is with rail with what it is now, but it is to compare what the future would be with or without rail. That’s the comparison that should be asked, and that’s not what Cliff Slater was just talking about.

Mr. Slater’s major argument – “the whole argument” to use his words – came down to a “no kidding” moment. Mr. Slater has used his dubious commentary for the past two decades to mislead the public on this issue of future traffic congestion.

As we say here in the islands, it’s shibai to compare congestion 20 years from now with rail to what it is today – especially to consciously suggest rail will provide no relief from congestion. Mr. Slater finally had to admit the truth -- "no kidding" about it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Next Generation Tells Council ‘We Will Ride It’

A sociology student might well find enough material for a thesis in yesterday’s City Council hearing on Honolulu rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

The generational contrast wasn’t exactly black-and-white; some in the older generation (of which this writer is a member) supported rail, but most who testified did not. The young testifiers were eloquent in their support of rail transit.

Today’s Yes2Rail post carries the verbatim testimony (transcribed from the ‘Olelo cablecast) of a representative of the “We Will Ride” group and a decades-long rail opponent.

Chris Ballesteros
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, Council members. My name is Chris Ballesteros, and I’m here as a representative of an organization called We Will Ride. We represent over 400 young people, mostly high school- and college-age students that are dedicated to the promise that rail transit has for the future of Honolulu.

Now, there are a number of reasons why we support rail transit – obviously because it’s environmentally responsible, that it moves toward sustainability and that it promotes economic growth.
But more specifically to our generation, we believe that moving rail transit is critical because it will provide the construction jobs, technology jobs, architecture, all sorts of high-tech employment for our generation. It provides an incentive for young people who have perhaps gone to the mainland for college to come back to the islands later on.
So essentially, I’m here and we’re here to tell you all and to tell the people and the Council that if you build a rail system, we will ride it.

Cliff Slater

Chairman Apo and members of the Council, thank you for giving us one minute to testify on the 11,000 pages of the FEIS, appendices and 18 technical reports. I would like to draw your attention to page 24 of the City’s letter to me in the comments on our DEIS comments. Mr. Yoshioka says, “You are correct in pointing out that traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than it is today without rail.” And the rumors that Mr. Yoshioka was water-boarded to get that out of him may not be true, but nevertheless, it’s a fact that most people in the ewa plain do not understand that traffic congestion with rail will be worse than it is today.
As far as the FEIS is ready to be out as a Final EIS, the EPA last February told the City that they had to have the Section 106 consultation which concerns the history and archeological resources, that that has to be completed prior to completion of the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and I think as most of you know, that hasn’t been done yet.

If Chris Ballesteros represents Oahu’s future, the community would seem to be in good hands. He was articulate, spoke without notes and maintained eye contact with the Council as he made his case. Cliff Slater’s penchant for sarcasm was evident in his first few seconds, and the bulk of his prepared testimony was a repeat of the same worn-down theme we’ve examined this week in Monday’s and Tuesday’s posts here.

If the Council members were paying attention, they saw and heard the future, and it was decidedly with rail.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We’ll Later Ask, ‘How Did We Ever Live Without It?’ So Says Rail Expert with World of Experience

This must be "Civil Beat Week." We’ve linked to the online subscription news service Monday and yesterday and do so again today. Today’s top story is headlined “Honolulu Has Nation’s ‘Premier’ Rail Project,” a quote by Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Oberstar was speaking via video conference yesterday from Washington as a participant on the Summit on the State of Physical Infrastructure in Hawaii.

Oberstar has been saying much the same for the past couple years, including during a 2008 trip here, when he said he’d fight for $900 million in federal funds for Honolulu rail. Since then, Washington transit officials have said the project is in line for $1.55 billion.

‘The Beauty of Transit’

Civil Beat’s other rail-related piece today is an interview with Gino Antoniello, vice president of Sumitomo Corporation of American, one of the firms that hopes to provide rolling stock for Honolulu Rail.

Only a portion of Antoniello’s interview is available to those who aren’t Civil Beat subscribers (same with the infrastructure story), but Antoniello makes a notable point in the public portion. “The beauty of transit” is that “people don’t appreciate it until after it’s built. How did we ever live without it?” he says they’ll ask.
We won’t dip much into the subscriber’s section; Civil Beat undoubtedly would rather that everyone reading Yes2Rail pay up. But we will quote one of the concluding paragraphs in the piece:
“In the end, (Antoniello) said, rail can’t be looked at as a short-term investment. We build transit for the future, for our children.”

Generational Thinking

That’s not all we’re building for the next generations. Ground was broken for a wind farm in the Kahuku hills on Oahu’s North Shore just yesterday. New biofuel projects are approaching start-up, and other forms of renewable energy, including ocean thermal energy conversion, should finally get off the drawing boards sometime this decade.

All of this planning and building is for our children and their children. It’s what responsible communities do – and that includes not backing away from the burden of financing these projects. “We can’t afford it” is simply an opinion that carries little if any weight.

Which leads us to a final thought today. Some in the community, including Civil Beat, are intent on fostering a renewed debate on Honolulu rail at this late date, as if the main issues haven’t been thoroughly analyzed.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement has been delivered to the State for review and, one would hope, acceptance. We can’t imagine anything coming up in a new rail dialogue that isn’t addressed in the FEIS.

But if more Q-and-A is desired, it’s probably in the project’s best interests to encourage it. The more we hear from rail’s chief opponents, the stronger rail's case gets.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Closer Look at Cliff Slater’s ‘Whole Argument’

Civil Beat editor John Temple ends his online interview with Cliff Slater, leader of the anti-rail movement, by wondering whether “…in the end…we’ll thank him for standing firm or blame him for preventing a giant new addition that could transform the look and feel of a significant part of Honolulu.”

Those two options seem premised on rail not being built, but that's not the probable outcome of Mr. Slater’s decades-long opposition to rail. More likely, rail will receive a green light from the next governor, overcome all legal challenges and break ground as quickly as possible.

Yes2Rail believes the odds of that happening are improved by publicizing Mr. Slater’s views. That’s why we’re writing about him again today – following up on yesterday's theme that the foundation of Mr. Slater’s opposition to rail is shaky at best and intellectually suspect at its core.

We’ll quote from the first of the three videos posted with Mr. Temple’s interview. (The entire interview is available only to Civil Beat subscribers, but the first five paragraphs and a 101-second video are available to all.) Here’s how the video begins:

Slater: “In talking to groups about rail, I tell them that there’s really two things you need to know about it. Number one, it’s gonna cost five and one-half billion dollars before cost overruns, and the second thing is that traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today. And then I ask them if they have any questions, and that kinda sums up the whole argument.”

And we’ll stop right there, since Mr. Slater asserts “that kinda sums up the whole argument.” Really? The whole argument? Let’s examine Mr. Slater’s “whole argument.”

Anticipating Oahu’s Future

Oahu’s population will increase by close to 200,000 in the next two decades according to the demographic studies in the project's Final Environmental Impact Statement. Experience over the past several decades here suggests that the number of automobiles on the island also will continue to increase with population growth.

Building more major highways to pave over our scarce land is likely to be opposed by the vast majority of Oahu residents, so congestion growth on existing highways is a given. That’s not to say highway improvements won’t be made during rail's construction and afterward. The Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's Regional Transportation Plan 2030 anticipates billions of dollars in road improvements in the coming decades.

Mr. Slater apparently believes diverting all $5.5 billion intended for Honolulu rail will decrease congestion. That’s the only possible inference from his position. Yet in holding fast to that assertion, Mr. Slater stands apart from virtually all professional assessments of Oahu’s transportation future conducted by an army of transit and traffic experts.

A Weak ‘Whole Argument’

Yet that is what Mr. Slater apparently believes – that despite more than a 20-percent increase in Oahu’s population, his plan can reduce highway congestion and hours of delay by 2030. Objective assessments suggest he’s flat wrong, and we will continue to publicize his “whole argument” to expose its obvious weakness.

Honolulu is closing in on the end of a long process to build an alternative to congestion. It’s what cities have done the world over, and those who ride their grade-separated transit systems avoid traffic completely.

Certainly Oahu’s traffic issues will be addressed in the years ahead in ways independent of the rail project. Just today, the City is breaking ground on a new Joint Traffic Management Center.

Mr. Slater wants us to throw away all the work and analysis that has gone into planning Honolulu rail and instead base Oahu’s future on the private automobile. That clearly is not what's best for this and future generations.

By providing an option that would never exist in Mr. Slater's world, Honolulu rail will loosen traffic's grip on our population.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cliff Slater’s ‘Ace Card’ Turns Out To Be a Joker

Today’s edition of Civil Beat, the online subscription news service, carries an interview with Cliff Slater, the decades-long opponent of Honolulu rail. John Temple’s entire interview is available only to subscribers, but all visitors can view the opening paragraphs and one of the three videos accompanying the interview.

You’re encouraged to do so, because that particular video contains the centerpiece of Mr. Slater’s anti-rail presentations. To summarize, he describes how he first tells his audiences that Honolulu rail will cost $5.5 billion and then says it will not reduce traffic congestion from present levels. “Any questions?” he then asks, apparently playing his best card right at the top. (Photo by Civil Beat.)

We don’t attend Mr. Slater’s presentations, but if we did, we’d point out that traffic is worse in Chicago, Paris, New York and San Francisco today than it was when those cities built their grade-separated rail systems decades and generations ago. Pouring concrete to pave over their open space didn’t reduce congestion, it facilitated it, so playing his trump card of "increased congestion with rail" really doesn't take the trick.

Without the rail alternative in those and other cities around the world, congestion would be even worse than it is today, and there would be no commuting alternative to sitting in traffic congestion.

We encourage Oahu residents to pay close attention to Mr. Slater’s arguments on behalf of his non-rail traffic solutions. Rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement addresses all his points, but all you really have to do is pay close attention to his statements to know Cliff Slater’s vision for Oahu’s future isn’t something we can live with.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rail FEIS Loaded with Must-Read Material

It’s a summer weekend and a perfect time to curl up with a good laptop. Our recommendation: Pop the lid and direct your browser to the Honolulu rail project’s website and the Final Environmental Impact Statement there for some fascinating and informative reading.

Have questions about the project? We can’t imagine one that isn’t answered in the chapters and appendixes of this document, which was released by the Federal Transit Administration on June 14 and now sits somewhere in the governor’s office awaiting her review.

We’ve included a couple screen shots from the DVD with the FEIS and video guide; you can order one at no charge by contacting the project hotline, 566-2299.

We used the graphic at the top today just because it’s so colorful, but the one below answers the often-heard question, “What good will rail do me if I don’t live close to a station?” As the graphic suggests, driving to the nearest rail station and taking the train from there could shave a ton of time off your commute.

Even those who don’t ride the train and continue to drive to work will derive a benefit from rail because so many others will have chosen to ride. Something like 40,000 cars will be removed from the roads and highways when rail is built, and Oahu traffic congestion in 2030 will be reduced by 18 percent.

If you want to know more, pack your laptop with the picnic gear and amaze your companions with what you've learned about Honolulu rail. Have fun with it. Create a quiz on rail and award silly prizes. After all, it’s the weekend!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Car-Train Crash in Long Beach Illustrates Major Drawback to ‘Cheaper’ At-Grade Rail Transit

As some continue to call for a “cheaper” version of Honolulu rail, meaning an at-grade system, it’s useful to post reminders about a significant downside when corners are cut and project goals are compromised. Here’s a reminder from today’s news
(courtesy Contra Costa Times)
of what undoubtedly would happen here if Honolulu were to build a ground-level transit system (see also KTLA video):

LONG BEACH (July 7, 2010) - A police officer was injured Wednesday when his patrol car was crushed during a collision with a Blue Line train near Pacific Coast Highway and Long Beach Boulevard.

The accident occurred at 1:15 p.m. as the southbound train collided with the officer's black-and-white at 16th Street, dragging it dozens of feet before coming to a stop, officials said.

The unidentified officer was extricated from the crumpled vehicle using the "Jaws of Life" and taken to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, where his condition was stable, said Long Beach Fire Battalion Chief Frank Hayes.

Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, who visited the crash scene within minutes of the accident, said the officer was resting comfortably with family and friends.

"As bad as it looks, we're pretty fortunate," McDonnell said. "We're optimistic that there are no life-threatening injuries."

Several passengers on the train were taken to local hospitals after complaining of neck and back injuries, though their condition didn't appear serious, Hayes said.

It was not immediately clear if the officer was responding to an emergency call or ran a red light when the accident happened. The car was traveling west on 16th Street when it collided with the train.

Buses were organized to carry passengers scheduled to travel on Blue Line trains as crews worked to remove the wreckage and check tracks.

Investigators were on scene from Long Beach Police, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Blue Line's operator, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The accident is the latest in a long line of vehicle-train collisions on Blue Line tracks, which connect downtown Long Beach with downtown Los Angeles.

In April 2008, a 75-year-old woman was killed after turning into a train near downtown Long Beach, and a number of other pedestrians and motorists – including police – have collided with Blue Line trains since the route opened in 1990.
Additional photos are available (courtesy

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Study Shows Health Benefits of Riding Rail: ‘Taking Public Transit Might Help You Stay Slim’

HealthDay has reported that walking to and from transit stations can contribute to weight loss. The study is reported in the August issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (not yet available online as of today) and in many online sites, such as

"Fixed rail transit systems provide a moderate public health benefit to users by creating more opportunity for walking in one's daily commute," said study co-author Robert Stokes, coordinator of the Urban Environmental Studies Program at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "This benefit, when aggregated to society, is not inconsequential and should become part of any discussion on the costs and benefits of transit and land use planning and policy."

The study is based on the transit-riding habits of 500 people in Charlotte, NC. (We found reason to celebrate Charlotte’s new rail transit system a week ago today.) According to HealthDay, the typical commuter who used the system lost an average of nearly 6.5 pounds over 12 to 18 months thanks to walking to and from transit stations.

The study also found that system riders had an 81-percent lower risk of obesity than those who didn’t ride.

"Providing smartly planned public transit options for fast-growing, sprawling metros can reduce the prevalence of obesity, which has been strongly related to time spent in one's automobile," Stokes said. "Transit planners need to work with municipal planners and public safety agencies to create safe and attractive transit environments that maximize use of (transit) lines," he added.
Going beyond transit planning, lowering obesity rates has a society-wide benefit by reducing health-care costs.

We always chuckle at the fervent assertion by rail opponents that Oahu residents simply won’t get out of their cars to ride Honolulu’s future train. Many will continue to drive – even if taking the train would be convenient – due to personal preferences and destinations, but it’s a nonsensical argument in light of all the benefits to be derived by taking the train.

In addition to cost and time savings, add health gains to the list.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Declaring Independence from Traffic Woes

It’s obligatory for bloggers and editorial writers on Independence Day weekend to find a way – usually a tortured way – to tie their favorite theme to the national theme of freedom. We’re up for that.

We’ve often used “independence from traffic congestion” to describe what Honolulu rail will mean for commuters who choose to ride the city’s future train.

It’s also obligatory for rail supporters to hammer away at this theme – freedom from morning and evening traffic woes that can destroy the spirit of all those stuck in congestion that’s bound to grow with increases in population and the number of vehicles in the morning and evening commutes all over this land.

....morning and evening...... hmmmmmm…….

If I had a hammer
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land
I’d hammer out traffic
I’d hammer congestion
I’d build out the trains between my office and my family
All over this land……

Thursday, July 1, 2010

FEIS Insights: Rail Will Lower Energy Demand for Transit and Highway Vehicles; Less Pollution, too

Oh, the things you can learn by reading the rail project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement. If more Oahu residents would check out its contents, we’d see much less misinformation and wrong assumptions in the community’s ongoing rail dialogue.

Take the issue of overall transportation energy use and pollution. Table 4‑21 summarizes the anticipated average daily transportation demand in 2030 for the project, which will reduce daily transportation energy demand by approximately 3 percent compared to the No Build Alternative. The total transportation energy demand for transit and highway vehicles will be lower with the project than if rail were not built.

Greenhouse gas emissions are covered in Section 4.9.3 of the Final EIS. It’s anticipated that the project will reduce regional pollutant emissions by between 3.9 to 4.6 percent compared to the No Build Alternative (Table 4‑15).

The entire FEIS can be accessed at the rail project’s website. Spend some time with it – but preferably not all at once. It’s a big document that examines virtually every issue that could be raised about Honolulu rail – its impacts and its anticipated benefits.

But here’s a thumbnail sketch we like on the energy issue: Oahu with rail will use less fossil fuel and will generate less air pollution compared to not building the system and continued reliance on the car-centric status quo.