Two weeks of dueling op-ed pieces and editorial board meetings were capped off today with the newspaper’s editorial reaffirming its long-standing support for rail (subscription).
There’s nothing new in that support; both the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and the Honolulu Advertiser, which themselves dueled for generations until the Advertiser was bought out last year, had backed the city’s various rail projects over the decades.
The newspaper’s editorial staff assessed both sides of the debate and concluded critics did not make a convincing case against elevated rail. It’s the project's elevated feature that seems most upsetting to Cliff Slater, Ben Cayetano, Walter Heen and Randall Roth.
We haven’t seen a response from the mayor, but we can paraphrase what he’s already said about legacies – that bequeathing generations of our offspring a legacy of gridlock, frustration, lost time and stagnation would be much worse than the guideway’s visual impacts.
Traffic congestion on Oahu severely impacts a significant population segment on this land-scarce island each day. Elevated rail transit will give its riders a daily guarantee that they’ll be completely untouched by that traffic. That will be especially true for residents living and working close enough to rail stations in future transit-oriented developments to walk to and from the rail line.
At-grade transit, which the former governor prefers, simply could not provide the fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation this and future generations will require. The photographs in the right-hand column of this blog are there for a reason; they show what happens over and over again in cities that have built ground-level rail transit.
The Star-Advertiser’s editorial worded its rejection of grade-level transit this way:
The four critics continue to value car dependence for commuting more than 21st-century reasoning suggests. Some unintentional humor crept into their August 21st commentary in their plaintive question: “Where will commuters park their cars?”
Those among us who’ve relied on their cars for nearly every single trip they’ve made from home to work, to shopping and to everywhere else can’t imagine a future when public transit will be a better option for scores of thousands of Oahu residents. As Yes2Rail noted the day after the quartet’s commentary: “Rail will be part of a public transit system, with buses providing a convenient and inexpensive option to driving and giving commuters access to and from the rail spine.”
The critics just don’t get it, but the younger generation does. The dominant newspaper on this island gets it, too, and has again endorsed rail as planned.