Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Coincidental Headlines--Ties that Bind: Rail Town Hall Meeting Draws Crowd; Pain at Pump Deepens

And as the pain at the pump deepens even more in the decade ahead, even bigger crowds will be ready to elevate their ride by using Honolulu rail.

The “packed house” – KITV’s description – at last night’s town hall meeting was to be expected, with emphasis on “expected.” The public has been expecting this project to get under way for years, so the large turnout was not unexpected at the first of several town hall meetings by the newly formed Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART).

KITV’s report went on to highlight descriptions of commuters’ pain on the highway due to the length of their daily drives from the ewa end of the island into town.

The second meeting in the town hall series will be held at Kalani High School from 6 to 8 o’clock this evening.

Pumping More Pain
Another day, another penny added to the average price of gasoline in the 50th state – or as the gas station industry would have it, another 9/10ths of a penny. Hawaii’s nation-leading gas price today is $4.243 per gallon of regular gas, up from $4.234 yesterday, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

That’s nearly 82 cents higher than a year ago in Hawaii and nearly 78 cents more than the current national average. The Star-Advertiser’s top page-one story has a couple sit-up-and-take-notice quotes that we’ll reproduce here (with the presumed permission of the newspaper, since doing so will show non-subscribers what they’re missing).

Regarding the disparity in the local and national averages, petroleum industry analyst Tim Hamilton said, “You can have oil delivered to Hawaii at a similar cost to having it delivered to Houston. The gas price differential also isn’t the result of the higher cost of doing business in Hawaii.

“That’s a charade the oil companies have been pushing for years. It’s pure profit. If you had economic forces like you have on the mainland, it would be different,” Hamilton said.

There you go – the old supply-and-demand formula, which when applied to Hawaii means we have a growing demand gasoline that’s satisfied by very little supply competition in our isolated mid-Pacific location.

A little online searching for long-term oil price assumptions turns up countless potential sources, and this one seems as good as the next. In short, oil prices will rise to levels significantly higher than today, which can only mean gasoline prices approaching and leaping past $5 per gallon.

Drivers become riders of rail transit systems when the cost of fueling, insuring, maintaining and parking their cars becomes too painful. Honolulu rail will be there for them – especially those whose homes and workplaces locations make the train an ideal way to avoid that pain, as well as enjoy the convenience of elevated rail.

It seems likely that today’s gas price – $4.243 and rising – will be recalled fondly as the “good old low-price days” a decade from now.

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