Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Review: Institute’s Transit-Accessibility Study Shows Why Rail Will Be Successful Here

We’re taking a second look at the Brookings Institution’s study of transit coverage and job accessibility in metropolitan areas across the country (see the end of yesterday’s post for the first).

Oahu residents have grown accustomed to hearing good things about TheBus, Honolulu’s well-regarded transit system, but it’s something else to read it in a nationally respected organization’s detailed study. Some quotes on Honolulu are worth pulling out, because they offer insights on why Honolulu rail will have such great appeal to a population that already relies heavily on a good transit system and will embrace an even better one.

Honolulu, a region with long-standing urban containment policies, highly constrained geography and a relatively centralized employment base, posts the highest share (of jobs accessible via transit) at 60 percent, nearly double the 100 metro-area average.
…most Western metropolitan areas rank among those with the highest (transit) coverage rates. Fully 97 percent of Honolulu’s working-age residents live in transit-covered areas, as do 96 percent of those in Los Angeles and San Jose.
Large metro areas such as San Jose, Denver and Portland, as well as mid-sized areas such as Honolulu, Salt Lake and Tucson, posted among the highest scores thanks to strong rankings on both transit coverage and job access.
Only 18 (out of 100) other metropolitan areas’ headways (time between vehicles during rush hour) are below 10 minutes… Half of these are in the West, including Portland (7.4), Denver (8.1), Honolulu (9.0) and Tucson (9.2).
Metro areas with a high number of transit commuters, such as Los Angeles, Honolulu and Philadelphia, also stand out for having small per capita carbon emissions due to transportation compared with more car-dependent areas such as Nashville and Oklahoma City.
This graphic summarizes Honolulu’s ranking among 100 metro areas and can be used as a cudgel on arguments that “rail will never work here,” a favorite anti-railer assertion. Transit already works exceptionally well here due to obvious geographical constraints and job concentration.

Honolulu’s elevated rail system will provide fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation for a population already well served by public transit. Honolulu’s future transit system will integrate the rail guideway “spine” with TheBus’s enhanced network, reducing headways and increasing job accessibility for current transit users and attracting tens of thousands of car drivers once cost and convenience advantages become obvious to them.

Also obvious with each new scientific opinion survey on Honolulu rail, most Oahu residents are supporters. The Brookings study helps us understand why the solid majority knows intuitively that rail is needed and will work here.

(Today's post has been added to our "aggregation site" in the Project's Goals and more section.)

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