Thursday, September 1, 2011

More Anti-Railer Obfuscation on TheBus vs Train; Where’s Credibility after the Misrepresentations?

Civil Beat’s fact checking of the Cliff Slater-Ben Cayetano et al "Gang of Four" op-ed piece in the Star-Advertiser is validating something Yes2Rail has been saying for years: Honolulu’s leading anti-rail activist bends facts, shades the truth and generally has been conducting a disinformation campaign.

CB is progressing through the August 21 commentary and already has concluded that two major claims are  FALSE , and it’s working on others; the one  TRUE  judgment was nothing more than validation of a state official's verbal mistake.

While we await CB’s conclusions on other issues (we’ve already projected another  FALSE ), let’s look at what Mr. Slater has posted at his website and at – a suggestion (with a question mark behind it) that TheBus will travel from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center faster than Honolulu’s future train.

This is classic Slater – right up there with his assertion that Honolulu rail will be a failure if traffic on Oahu continues to grow even after rail is in service. What he doesn’t say, of course, is that traffic naturally will grow with the addition of hundreds of thousands of new residents – and that congestion would be worse without rail than with it. He only acknowledges that under duress, as he was forced to admit at a City Council hearing last year.

Mixing It Up
Mr. Slater takes issue with rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and implies the train’s travel time from East Kapolei to Ala Moana will be 55 minutes, not 42. To back it up, he quotes the FEIS: “…the travel time, including access to station (emphasis added by Yes2Rail) and waiting time for rail between East Kapolei and Downtown Honolulu will be 55 minutes with the (rail) project…. The 55 minutes travel time is a little more believable (than 42 minutes).”

Notice how Mr. Slater confuses the reader – deliberately, we suspect – by equating “travel time” with “transit time.” Travel time includes all time a commuter spends traveling from home to the final destination. It involves going to the nearest station by walking, riding a bike, taking TheBus, driving, being dropped off, roller skating, skateboarding or whatever – and traveling from the arrival station to the final destination. Transit time is how many minutes it takes for a train to go between stations – e.g., 42 minutes between East Kapolei to Ala Moana.

He also misleads by mixing up destinations in his HawaiiReporter piece – first by noting the transit time from East Kapolei all the way to the end of the line, then switching to travel time to reach the Downtown station from the East Kapolei neighborhood.

Consistency would have required Mr. Slater to say the train’s transit time will be only 37-38 minutes to the Downtown station from East Kapolei. The total travel time for someone living quite near the East Kapolei station conceivably could be only about 40 minutes.

The one true statement in Mr. Slater's piece is that more than 6 minutes is required to travel between the Iwilei and Ala Moana stations. The actual time of just under 8 minutes is possible because the train will average 25 mph between the stations, much faster than TheBus can drive between those stations. (Rounded transit times between five stations produced the difference.)

Murkier by the Minute
Confusion reigns at this point in Mr. Slater’s commentary, and that’s consistent with his anti-rail tactics. But there's more: He slides right by the fundamental difference between express buses and Honolulu’s future rail system:

The train from Kapolei into town will accomplish what it’s designed to do and TheBus can't – serve the entire population along its route by picking up and dropping off passengers 16 times before it arrives downtown. Even with those stops, the train will average 30 mph while being a fast, frequent, reliable and safe travel option for its passengers by avoiding all surface congestion.

An express bus traveling in the Zip lane on the H-1 freeway stops for nobody. It’s designed for one reason  – to move people from one end to the other, with little ability to serve the thousands of residents living and working in between. Route C's map shows no stops to serve Waipahu, Pearl City, the airport area, large sections of Kalihi and other communities.  Rail will be the essential component and heart of Honolulu’s future multi-modal transportation system to achieve its four goals. TheBus can’t compete in that arena.

When someone sews confusion so consistently, before long his entire line of reasoning is suspect, and that’s what has happened with Mr. Slater’s decades-long anti-rail campaign.

Those paying attention over the years have known it for a long time, and now independent fact checker Civil Beat is discovering it, too. So much for the radio host's joyful statement that "this particular piece is going to be at the heart of how the general public forms its opinions about the rail project."

Bombardier Reacts
Losing bidder Bombardier has written to the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation to unilaterally extend its offer, as the city asked another losing bidder Sumitomo to do, while winner Ansaldo’s finances are examined. Civil Beat has the story and has posted the Bombardier letter.

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