But former Governor Benjamin Cayetano and anti-mass transit activist Cliff Slater didn’t hear that question and relied on their usual anti-railer rhetoric, which isn’t good enough. Opponents shouldn’t be allowed to get away with offering commuters no viable alternative to wasting hours each week in traffic congestion.
Instead, Messrs. Slater and Cayetano stuck to their usual sideshow issues that they rely on in their public appearances, including at last Tuesday’s Rotary Club of Honolulu meeting. Mayor Peter Carlisle will have his opportunity at this week’s meeting to give a point-by-point refutation of everything the Gang of Four said, especially Mr. Slater’s principal reason for opposing rail.
Mr. Slater used the TV show to flog the low percentage of rail transit ridership compared to private car use. Apparently that fact of life (roads were built everywhere in the car-centric 20th century) trumps everything in his universe, including building a congestion-free mode of travel for those who wish to avoid sitting in traffic.
Speaking like the full-time politician he was, the former governor said: “You guys are so focused on this one issue (which, of course, was indeed the focus on the INSIGHTS program) as if it’s the only issue that’s important to any government. In my book, this is maybe three or four issue of importance to any government.
“You know, people will not die because of traffic congestion, but I tell you what. People will die if government can’t fund programs for spouse abuse and things like that. That’s the biggest problem with this project that I have. It’s gonna suck money away from the government to do things we gotta have….”
Moderator Boylan moved the discussion back to what rail will be – an alternative to driving. “Wouldn’t we be in better shape,” he asked, “if we had something that worked that well (as Washington’s Metro) running every three minutes?”
That was close to the “if not rail, what?” question, but not quite there. Rather than answer it, Mr. Slater said Honolulu can’t be compared to larger cities, but Mr. Okino jumped in to remind the audience of Mr. Astolfi’s previous description of Honolulu as uniquely suited for rail due to its thin east-west geography between the mountains and the sea.
Somebody might actually ask the leading anti-railers in one of their public appearances to explain themselves in ways they routinely refuse to do. Just maybe that’ll be Mayor Carlisle’s starting point on Tuesday.