Friday, June 3, 2011

Public Opinion Poll Shows Residents Appreciate Rail’s Ability to Address Growing Traffic Problem

The QMark poll of residents’ attitudes on rail, discussed previously on Wednesday and Thursday this week, reveals something about the average person’s ability to appreciate fundamental rail transit issues about rail transit that are lost on rail's most partisan critics.

The latter believe rail will be a failure because it won’t reduce congestion from current levels. Given the facts of life and human reproductive patterns that dictate population growth, they create an impossibly high standard for rail to meet. Rail transit can’t possibly meet it, so they insist the project shouldn’t be built.

Professor Panos Prevedouros and Cliff Slater, Oahu’s two leading anti-rail activists, have promoted this perspective for years. Mr. Slater even told Civil Beat in an interview that he bases his anti-rail presentations on this shaky foundation.

The poll suggests that average citizens appreciate rail’s potential to help address Oahu’s growing traffic problem, if not solve it. This chart represents the relative weight of the responses when citizens were asked if they felt rail transit would have an impact on future traffic congestion. More than 60 percent of the respondents foresee a positive future rail effect on congestion. Just over one-third expects little or no effect.

The rail project has never asserted rail will “solve” Oahu’s traffic problem. What it will do is provide an alternative way to travel through the urban core that’s completely unaffected by traffic. So many residents will choose to ride the system that congestion on the urban core’s thoroughfares is expected to be reduced 18 percent by 2030.

When asked why they support or oppose the project, 70 percent mentioned traffic congestion and the need to do something about it. About 15 percent said rail will be a more reliable and faster way to commute, and another 13 percent said rail will benefit the island by taking cars off the road and lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

In other words, citizens understand rail’s potential to address the traffic issue. The anti-railers’ extreme partisanship won’t allow them to acknowledge that in the slightest unless they’re under duress.

“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….,” Mr. Slater told the City Council last July.

According to the QMark poll, Oahu citizens don’t disagree either.


Anonymous said...

Give the State and City workers bus passes now so they may take the rail when it is finished to town in ten years. Free parking at the stadium instead of subsidized parking in town.Express buses to town center gov buildings and back to the stadium at 4pm till 6.This will save millions and reduce traffic now. Give the other taxpayers a break on the Ewa corridor as any furlough day has less traffic. If you want people to use public transportation then encourage it, not compete with it.

Doug Carlson said...

Thank you for your comment, Anonymous. Yes, by all means, institute traffic-abating measures. Rail will be one of them and will serve that role for generations -- a traffic-free way to move through the city. That will be even more important for our children and grandchildren.