Monday, January 17, 2011

Missing at LWV’s Anti-Rail Event: Oahu’s Youth

What would happen if the League of Women Voters held a “Doing Rail Right” panel and nobody under 30 showed up? That’s essentially what happened Saturday morning if “nobody” can be defined as “less than two.”

It’s probable Oahu’s youth stayed clear of the event (except for one anti-rail college student) because of LWV’s reputation opposing Honolulu rail. Also opposed to the project were all but one member of the event's panel.

With its reputation preceding it, the League and its decidedly senior age distribution wasn’t likely to create a buzz among the next generation of leaders on a beautiful Saturday morning. The only “independent” voice on the panel was a Civil Beat reporter who said the online news organization has taken no stand on rail and neither would he that day.

Other panelists included a member of Stop Rail Now; a University of Hawaii economist who authored a study that has been criticized by a frequent pro-rail contributor; an attorney who voiced objections to the project because of its potential to disturb buried human remains; an architect who advocated building an at-grade rail system, and a moderator who urged continued opposition to the project at the City Council level.

Generation Relevant?

Yes2Rail attended the event and is giving it more space here than the Honolulu Star-Advertiser did the next day. Unmentioned in the newspaper’s report was the age range of the participants, which we think is significant.

Of the 24 audience participants, one was a member of “generation next.” Most were a lot closer to the Yes2Rail writer’s age, which we mention only to pre-empt accusations of “ageism.”

We noted the age differential between rail opponents and supporters back in July when the City Council held a hearing on rail’s final environmental impact statement. The opponents were represented principally by Cliff Slater; Oahu’s youth testified in favor of rail.

A Kamehameha Schools graduate who’s attending Yale University said: “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.”

Another young person said he represented a group 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…. 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.”

We said back in July that if the Council members were paying attention, they saw and heard the future, and it was decidedly with rail. The two Council members and one member-elect at Saturday’s event did not see or hear what Oahu’s youth want for their future. It simply wasn’t in the cards because the League had no interest in exposing that side of the debate.

Surely the full City Council can't ignore it.


Anonymous said...

These yoooth will pay for the railway follies. Been to several states and Far East where the railway system was draining their financial health. Fares were too expensive and these kids will never ride it. Like a piece of furniture in your living room. Looks good but not functional.

Doug Carlson said...

Your comment is completely incredible, Anonymous, but thanks for visiting anyway.

Edward Smith said...


Don't believe a word you are saying.

Fares for subway and other urban train system are fairly reasonable where I have been. If you live in the locale, then you purchase a monthly, quarterly, or year pass.

Even if you can afford a car, a well kept metro system is an essential component of interurban transportation.

Exactly what cities in the "Far East" are you referring to? I cannot think of any that have a substandard system. And I am referencing Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Beijing....

A day pass on the Bangkok subway is 100 baht. ($3)
A ticket on the Seoul subway is 1000 won ($1)...

Fairly inexpensive....

JIM LOOMIS said...

Paraphrasing Mark Twain for Anonymous: It's better to say nothing and let people think you're full of kukai than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.