Yes2Rail is read at a distance by many who aren’t likely to subscribe to Civil Beat, so we hope our long introduction will help smooth the way for our extensive quoting of today’s content at Civil Beat, recently judged by The Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter to be the “Best Overall News Site.”
1. Last month, control of the city's $5 billion transit system was transferred from the Carlisle administration to the semi-autonomous Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, for which you sit on the board. What will this mean for citizens as they monitor progress of the project?
Please keep in mind that I am answering the questions as the Director of the Department of Transportation Services. I do serve on the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) as a voting ex-officio member, but my answers to the questions posed by Civil Beat regarding the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project (HHCTCP) only reflect my opinion and not that of the entire HART board.
2. The project is dependent on $1.5 billion in federal funds. The Federal Transit Administration has repeatedly voiced support for rail in Honolulu, but the climate in Congress is tricky right now. What makes you so confident that you'll be able to secure the federal funding?
3. Much of the conversation these days is about rail, but that's only one piece of the transportation picture. What can you tell us about the city's implementation of bike plans to make Honolulu safer and friendlier for cyclists?
4. Even with rail, buses will continue to be a major part of the city's public transportation planning. There's some concern that money needed for the bus system will be diverted to rail. What would you tell people about that concern? Will people still be able to take their favorite bus to work and will it be in the kind of condition that our buses are today?
5. A lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging the environmental review. It claims the city didn't adequately consider alternatives. What do you say to people who believe at-grade light rail, bus rapid transit or hot lanes would have been a better solution for Honolulu's traffic problem?
To that last point we’d add our own recommendation to those who are curious why Honolulu's system will be elevated along its 20-mile route. Visit our “aggregation site” for links to nine Yes2Rail posts on why elevated rail is far superior to surface rail in this city.