Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Oahu Traffic Emerges as Public Enemy Number 1; QMark Poll Shows 62% Agree that Rail Will Help

Once you get past the basics of QMark’s recent poll of Oahu residents on the rail project – the support/don’t support split is 57 to 40 percent – the poll provides insight into the respondents’ major concerns about mobility on the island.

Traffic congestion tops the list. According to the survey report, which is available online:

“Seventy percent of those who indicated they support this project say they do so for the simple fact that something needs to be done to address the traffic problem on Oahu.”

The natural follow-up to that response was to ask respondents if they felt the rail transit system would have an impact on future traffic congestion on the island. This graph displays their responses:
Sixty-two percent of those polled said rail would greatly reduce congestion or have a positive effect on traffic, compared to a little more than a third of respondents who anticipate little or no effect.

The meaning of "great," “some” and “little” for respondents is of course subjective, but it’s easy to conclude that reducing the number of cars each day from streets and highways by 40,000 vehicles will be a significant factor in reducing congestion.

One of rail’s four major goals is to improve corridor mobility as measured in 2030, the benchmark year. Here’s what the Final Environmental Impact Statement's Section 7.2.1 says about current and future congestion (the FEIS is available online in the project website's Library):

“Just as mobility and congestion have worsened over the years, conditions in 2030 will be worse than today. Despite implementation of the planned $3 billion in roadway improvements identified in the Oahu Regional Transportation Plan 2030 (ORTP), the No Build Alternative still would not relieve traffic congestion for drivers or improve mobility for transit riders compared to today…, and vehicle hours of delay (VHD) would increase under the No Build Alternative compared to today.

FEIS Continued:

“The project will increase average transit speeds by approximately 25 percent compared to the 2030 No Build Alternative, leading to higher transit ridership and travel time savings for existing and new transit users. Transit travel times between major destinations will decrease up to 60 percent compared to the No Build Alternative….
“Increases in transit ridership will benefit highway users as well by removing drivers from the roadways through better transit service. The Project will reduce traffic congestion and improve mobility compared to the No Build Alternative…. Daily (Vehicle Miles Traveled) will decrease by 4 percent. (Vehicle Hours Traveled) will decrease by 8 percent, and VHD will decrease by 18 percent.”

Whether they’ve read the FEIS or just have a gut feeling, the survey suggests most Oahu residents appreciate that Honolulu rail will have a positive effect on traffic congestion. It’s a reasonable conclusion when a completely grade-separated and therefore traffic-free option is available to residents.

Thanks to QMark’s poll, we know that most Oahu residents get it.

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