Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Transportation Equity Rounds Out Rail’s 4 Goals

We’re concluding our New Year's review of Honolulu rail transit project goals today with goal #4 – to improve transportation equity.

Equity is a good filter to use when evaluating anti-railers’ alternatives to the rail project, such as High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) roads and elevated busways that lack stops or stations along the route.
1/12 UPDATE: Hawaii Gas Nation's Costliest
Continuing Oahu’s heavy reliance on automobiles for commuting between the Second City and Honolulu is objectionable on many levels, including the equity issue. HOT lanes fail the equity test by not serving those who don’t own cars; beyond that obvious point, HOT lanes serve only those who can afford to pay the toll! And elevated busways that bypass communities along the route also fail to equitably serve all potential users.

Rail transit meets that test. Here’s the final environmental impact statement’s description of the equity goal:

Equity is about the fair distribution of resources so that no group carries an unfair burden of the negative environmental, social, or economic impacts or receives an unfair share of benefits. Many lower-income and minority workers who commute to work in the PUC (Primary Urban Center) Development Plan area live in the corridor outside of the urban core. Transit-dependent households concentrated in the Pearl City, Waipahu, and Makakilo areas (Figure 1-9) rely on transit availability, such as TheBus, for access to jobs in the PUC Development Plan area. Delay caused by traffic congestion accounts for nearly one-third of the scheduled time for routes between Ewa and Waikiki. Many lower-income workers also rely on transit because of its affordability. These transit-dependent and lower-income workers lack a transportation choice that avoids the delay and schedule uncertainty currently experienced by TheBus. In addition, Downtown median daily parking rates are the highest among U.S. cities, further limiting access to Downtown by lower-income workers. Improvements to transit availability and reliability would serve all transportation system users, including minority and moderate- and low-income populations (emphasis added).

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