Thursday, January 13, 2011

No Surprise in State DOT’s No-Show at Council

The City Council held a hearing yesterday on the Lingle Administration-sponsored financial study of the Honolulu rail project. The State Department of Transportation was asked to participate but didn’t.

That’s not a surprise. Governor Linda Lingle (R) was adamantly opposed to Honolulu’s grade-separated rail system and made that clear at every opportunity. Her politics were 180 degrees in opposition to former Mayor Mufi Hannemann, rail’s biggest champion over the past several years and potential general election opponent of Lingle’s lieutenant governor.

Newly installed Governor Neil Abercrombie (D) is a rail supporter. He accepted rail’s FEIS 10 days into his term, something Lingle refused to do. His administration didn’t order up the IMG study; Lingle’s did. It seems understandable that Abercrombie’s Department of Transportation didn’t respond to a request to participate in the Council’s hearing on an issue Abercrombie has said was outside the State's responsibilities for rail.

The City’s Department of Transportation Services did show up to rebut IMG’s study, as summarized in its document:

While the IMG report purports to focus on the financial implications of the City’s rail transit project, much of the report discusses bus issues that are independent of the rail project. Concerning both bus and rail, the report’s conclusion of a resulting $1.7 billion shortfall is not adequately substantiated. A review of IMG’s methods show that important and more relevant data was not recognized or considered and the report’s authors used incorrect figures and assumptions that allowed them to reach unsupported conclusions. The report also reflects a lack of understanding of transit financials and fails to recognize key economic indicators used by the State of Hawaii. This further reinforces the City’s position that the rail transit Financial Plan is sound. In addition, the FTA has already reviewed the City’s Financial Plan, and found the project to be financially sound and allowed it to move forward. The FTA also continually reviews the project’s Financial Plan and will do so again as the project enters its next phase of Final Design.


Ojisan said...

Okinawa has a rail system. It's been losing money for couple of decades.
Seattle rail system, losing money.
Dozen rail system in Japan losing money. What are the odds of this one losing money and especially if the riding population doesn't support it. Meaning, if they can't afford the bus fare, how can they afford the rail fare? Through government entitlements again? Only the Unions are supporting this financial debacle.

rajni said...

nicely done

Doug Carlson said...

Ojisan, Honolulu's bus system is heavily patronized and is acknowledged to be one of the nation's best. And since when is "making a profit" a rationale to build or not build critical infrastructure?

Hannah in Manoa said...

If every transportation system had to operated without tax support, there would be no rail transit, no bus transit, no handi-vans, no freeways, almost no paved streets, no airliners, and few if any motor trucks (no highways).
We might have toll highways, but very few because riding a train or streetcar would be more practical than braving the unpaid streets and highways to reach the fancy "turnpike."
We would go back to 1900, with streetcars, privately-owned railroads, bicycles, horses, mules, donkeys, and ships. Plus people would just walk.

America wouldn't have much of an obesity problem then, you bet! However, we would spent much more of our lives traveling and less of it working; bad for business.

Anonymous said...

To Ojisan,

Does our current highway system make money?

And HK's MTR makes money so we see systems on both ends of the spectrum.