(Be sure to check out the Comments below today's post. Also, see link at the end to the Dallas writer's follow-up column with a response from Honolulu's rail project.)
But a headline like this is something else:
Just what Honolulu needs: 20 miles of elevated train track
We’ve already commented on Dr. Prevedouros’s anti-rail opinion piece, which clearly is out of step with the majority support rail enjoys among Oahu residents as found in a recent opinion poll administered by QMark of Honolulu using best-practice principles. Mr. Hashimoto says his column drew on personal experience, too:
We still don’t allow billboards, so that hasn’t changed, but residents have added quite a few other issues to their list of local concerns since Mr. Hashimoto last lived here in 1971.
By the Numbers
According to the U.S. Census and other sources that you, too, can find, Oahu’s population in 1970 was 630,528. The 2010 Census located 953,207 people living here, a growth of 51.2 percent over four decades.
In 2009, the registered vehicle count on Oahu was 718,263, more than 20 percent above 1995. Hawaii’s visitor numbers passed 7 million in 2010, with the majority of them driving and bussing around Oahu. We didn’t find information on the vehicle and visitor counts in 1970, but the growth pattern is obvious from what we do know.
When all’s said and done, Honolulu isn’t the same town Mr. Hashimoto recalls with nostalgia. Traffic congestion, vehicle hours of delay, population growth, high-rise buildings that wall off the ocean and dwarf Aloha Tower, a spiraling cost of living, the highest electricity rates and gas prices in the country (oil/barrel in 1971, $3.60 vs 2011, $118), time lost sitting in traffic on H-1 and other roads – they all describe a city that doesn't resemble what Mr. Hashimoto remembers from his hanabata days four decades ago.
A lot of 1971 Honolulu is just a memory now – except for the no-billboards law, of course. Even TheBus system is different – better than in 1971 but inadequate to meet the mobility challenges of today’s 21st century world-class city.
We searched the ‘net for a 1971-era photograph to make our point about the passage of time in the 40 years since Mr. Hashimoto left. We think we found a good one, a photograph that also evokes Honolulu’s pride for one of its own – a young “Barry” Obama and his dad at Honolulu International Airport, Christmas 1971.
It’s worth about a bazzillion words.
July 27 Update: The Dallas paper today carries columnist Hashimoto's follow-up, which includes a letter from Toru Hamayasu, interim executive director of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation. Our response to Mr. Hashimoto's final word: "In this case, it does."