Friday, June 10, 2011

3671 Words Help Keep Rail ‘Controversy’ Going

We do the counter-intuitive thing again today of referring visitors to the website that’s a favorite repository of anti-rail commentary. Hawaii Reporter carries a commentary today built around the recent QMark public opinion survey on rail that we’ve been covering in our past several posts.

Under the headline “Controversy Over Oahu’s Rail Project Continues,” the writer – a Hawaii Reporter intern and student at the University of Southern California pursuing a journalism and multimedia degree – devotes nearly 3700 words keeping the “controversy” alive by quoting anti-rail activists who predictably fill the space with more anti-railisms.

Let’s remind ourselves at this juncture that the QMark poll found 57 percent of the 900 respondents said they support rail and 40 percent said they don’t. The margin of error was +- 3.27 percent according to standard opinion survey principles. Maybe a 57-40 split qualifies as a controversial project, but it’s still a solid majority.

The writer does a reasonably good job summarizing the poll’s findings, and unlike most of the rail-related commentaries posted to Hawaii Reporter, his tone comes across as objective. It’s his choice of quote providers that leaves an impression that the piece is heavily weighted toward skepticism.

Still Banging Away

Cliff Slater and Panos Prevedouros are quoted, of course, and we can’t let the opportunity pass without noting that they’re banging away at rail using the same kettle drums they always pound.

Mr. Slater repeats the same old refrain that traffic will be worse after rail is built than it is today, going so far as to cite the letter from Department of Transportation Services Wayne Yoshioka again – the same tactic he used before the City Council last July. Mr. Yoshioka’s response: “No kidding, in the future, traffic congestion will be greater than it is today.” We really do hope visitors to Yes2Rail read several of our July 2010 posts to get a flavor of Mr. Slater’s obfuscation campaign on rail, including how he dumbs down the traffic issue.

Dr. Prevedouros is quoted in the Hawaii Reporter about his preferred alternative to rail – High Occupancy Toll (HOT) roads. As we noted in October 2010, HOT lanes keep traffic moving by charging ever-increasing tolls to enter the roads until only a relatively few well-to-do drivers can afford to pay the toll. There’s nothing equitable about HOT lanes, yet here he is again, promoting an alternative that can’t possibly be what Oahu needs in this and future generations.

Please do read today’s commentary at Hawaii Reporter and then visit one of our first posts here at Yes2Rail of 2011 – a review of the rail project’s goals.


Dean Sensui said...

"HOT lanes keep traffic moving by charging ever-increasing tolls to enter the roads until only a relatively few well-to-do drivers can afford to pay the toll."

Catering to the wealthy minority isn't exactly government "for the people".

What Prevedouros and others aren't addressing is how to move a lot of people efficiently without cars.

In their scenarios, it doesn't matter how many new highways are built. There are some simple inescapable facts that limit their proposals: the increasing cost of fuel and auto maintenance, the available space to park all those cars at their destination, and the increasing cost of that parking.

The "no one will ride it" excuse doesn't wash because the bus system currently gets heavy ridership.

They need to look 20 years into the future. We meed to become less dependent upon fossil fuels while moving people efficiently. That plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy economy. People can't work if they can't get to their jobs.

And people won't diversify their spending if most of their money goes up in smoke just driving to work.

Doug Carlson said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Dean. You've nailed some of the major issues the anti-rail contingent would have the rest of us ignore.

Anonymous said...

Ah the usual twisted arguments.

Slater's rant on traffic will be worse in the future. Does he ever consider how hollow his logic is, (that because the projected future traffic w/rail will be worse than today, then rail should be considered a failure), considering future traffic is based on a larger pop size? I'm sure even with HOT lanes, traffic on public roads will be worse in the future than today so therefore, using his logic, HOT lanes will be an utter failure as well.

Panos - When did he become an expert on urban planning? So because urban planning mistakes may have been made in the past, we shouldn't do anything now? "“It is, in fact, extremely wasteful to create suburbs and create urban sprawl." Yet he wants to see more cars on the road? What a joke.

Kobayashi - Is she trying to revisit the Phileas bus system all over again?

And to bring up some points they really should consider.

1) Why is it only when pushed about how HOT applies to the masses and not the wealthy, do they bring up vanpools and express buses? Why is it an afterthought? Could it be they never really care for a public transit solution but the truth won't fly in the public's eye?

2) Okay so we run with vanpools and express buses. Do they not realize each vanpool rider gets over $2k in annual subsidy? If we looked at it over 15 years, that's over $30k per person. And rail is expensive? Have they looked at the op cost for The Bus? The express bus service they paint will require a much larger bus fleet than current. Just the existing bus fleet alone needs $328 million YOE dollars according to the FEIS. it will be ~$126 million YOE for rail. The difference of $202 million YOE in 10 years is easily $2+ billion if we doubled the bus fleet in place of rail.

The self serving interests of these folks are simply disgusting. It's even more puke inducing when they claim they are trying to protect my interests. Quit trying to pretend that you are speaking for me. I constantly find them twisting and distorting quotes and facts to suit their argument truly disingenuous. If they want to accuse the city of being deceitful, check a mirror. Kettle meet pot.