Civil Beat, the online subscription news service, observed yesterday that Sunday’s Star-Advertiser commentary submitted by plaintiffs in a lawsuit intended to stop the project – we’re calling them the Gang of Four – “is ripe for fact-checking. You’ll see the results of those investigations on the site in coming days.”
That’s a welcome development, inasmuch a morning radio host, who channels Gang of Four leader Cliff Slater, has said the commentary will be the centerpiece of how the general public understands the rail project. Civil Beat’s investigation will make a contribution to the public’s understanding of just what is what.
Maybe the website can prime its fact-checking pump with our own observations in Yes2Rail’s Sunday and yesterday posts about the commentary’s numerous misleading statements. And while they’re at it, CB might check the latest anti-rail piece by Dr. Panos Prevedouros, published yesterday at HawaiiReporter.com
His latest premise is that if freight trains have failed in Greece, Honolulu’s urban passenger train will fail, too. More precisely, he says trains killed Greek’s economy and we can expect the same result here.
We don’t know much about Greece’s economy beyond what we read in the media, and it does look like a mess. But Dr. Prevedouros’s assertion that trains killed Greece would seem to be a stretch; Greece’s generous social benefits network that allows public workers to retire while still relatively young is often reported as the culprit.
As for his opinion that rail will do the same to Hawaii (the non sequitur part), that’s just what it is – the opinion of a man whose career is mostly about highways and why communities should build more of them, a civil engineer whose own biographical website doesn’t even mention the word “transit.”
Dr. Prevedouros is a highwayman, through and through, and to better understand where he’s coming from, you need to appreciate the meaning of his preferred alternative to Honolulu rail – “managed lanes,” a concept he and Mr. Slater advocate.
According to Dr. Prevedouros’s HawaiiReporter.com commentary last October, managed lanes keep traffic flowing by managing down the number of vehicles on the lanes. As he put it, “Higher tolls are necessary to discourage overloading.”
Dr. Prevedouros’s Monday commentary includes this: “Trains went obsolete for a reason. You can’t solve 21st century mobility problems with 19th century technology.” Does he think Oahu residents are that gullible? Trains are not obsolete; thousands of them move freight and passengers all over the world every day. Perhaps less relevant for moving people in 21st century urban environments is another 19th century invention – the one-passenger automobile!
Finally, both the Gang of Four and Dr. Prevedouros blame Honolulu rail’s public information effort for convincing the community to support the project. Maybe that’s a back-handed compliment, but it looks more like the last refuge for the anti-rail camp to further obfuscate their own inability to persuade.
They've failed to convince Oahu residents to oppose rail after campaigning against grade-separated transit for literally decades in Mr. Slater’s case. They’ll keep trying, and the public had best be prepared for more of what they’re dishing.
(This post has been added to our "aggregation site" in its Dr. Panos Prevedouros section.)