Honolulu Rail IS NOT INTENDED TO BE THE END-ALL SOLUTION TO TRAFFIC!
It Is NOT BEING BUILT TO END TRAFFIC WOES!
Rail Will Be THE ALTERNATIVE TO TRAFFIC AND THE ONLY WAY TO AVOID CONGESTION!
That’s Why WE NEED IT AS A CRITICAL PART OF OUR INFRASTRUCTURE!!
Shouting it in red is annoying, but it’s also necessary because too many people JUST DON’T GET IT! These are critical distinctions that apparently are not understood by the people who fashion questions to sample public opinion on rail and reporters who cover it.
Rail’s True Purpose
Rail will restore MOBILITY to Oahu residents – the ability to move whenever you want and at any time of day through the length of the east-west urban core completely unaffected by traffic congestion. This fact is so critical it’s first among equals in the project’s four goals. “Solving traffic” is not one of them! It’s also what is missing in nearly all media coverage of the project.
Rail ironically suffers from Oahu residents’ frustration with traffic. They want a SOLUTION – something to relieve their daily upset with traffic. Rail is the biggest thing going, so they naturally expect the project to be that solution. (Also lost in the media coverage is the $3 billion in road improvements to relieve congestion already targeted in the long-range transportation plan by the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization.)
The 'Solutions' Problem
Even some well-meaning supporters rally around the “solution” angle. The pro-rail group formed 20 years ago got it wrong by calling itself Honolulu Taxpayers for Traffic Solutions.
Cliff Slater and other opponents immediately seized on “Solutions” and said simply, “Rail will not solve traffic. See for yourself; we’ll still have traffic after rail is built, and in fact, traffic will be worse than it is today.”
And he was right! It’s self-evident that traffic increases with population growth, and Oahu’s population is steadily growing and will continue to do so. Compared to the island’s 2005 population, another 200,000 residents are anticipated by 2030.
Mr. Slater continues to over-simplify the issue. He told Civil Beat last summer that he starts his presentations to audiences with two facts: 1) the project’s anticipated cost, and 2) traffic will be worse than it is today after the project is built.
We’ve repeatedly pointed out Mr.Slater’s tendency to obfuscate and “dumb down” the rail project. He’s the anti-railer-in-chief and almost an automatic drop-in to any rail story, including today’s. What he’ll never say without being forced into a corner is what he told the City Council last July: “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.”
Rail Will Be a Choice
The undeniable truth about riding Honolulu rail is that those who do will experience ZERO TRAFFIC! Nobody says TheBus system is a failure because it hasn’t “solved” traffic. It’s one of the best systems in the country and was written up as Number One just two days ago in the Star-Advertiser.
People choose to ride TheBus for whatever reasons that suit them – convenience, cost-savings, they don’t own a car, etc. The same will be true for Honolulu’s rail system.
Finally, you have to wonder about the newspaper story’s focus in the first few paragraphs this morning. Highlighted were the views of a writer and jazz musician who lives in Kuliouou near Hawaii Kai, about 10 miles east of the nearest rail stop.
Given a choice between writing about someone living in Kapolei who commutes to town today and likely would ride the train of the future and someone who clearly doesn’t and won’t, the reporter chose the latter. Does that make any sense at all?
Only the media’s built-in tendency to highlight negativity explains it. And you wonder why rail has such tough sledding.