Opponents often write that “nobody will ride this train,” an assessment that ignores reality around the world in cities with cost-effective and convenient rail transit systems. Two letters to the editor (LTE) in the Star-Advertiser this week (subscription) seemed to ignore what works elsewhere, too. They reacted to the newspaper’s earlier story on plans to use the “honor system” for fare payment rather than turnstiles, gates or other fare-collection systems.
Honor system will cost a lot (Star-Advertiser, 12/16)
As for the security concerns expressed by a Kaimuki resident, safety and security have been key components in planning Honolulu rail, and there’s no reason to anticipate threats to passenger safety with a proof-of-payment system.
A letter in today’s paper focuses on another issue that’s top of mind for rail opponents and supporters alike.
Rail will be worst case of isle visual pollution (Star-Advertiser, 12/17)
Traffic congestion is a reality in 21st century Honolulu, and it has profound effects on the lives of those who commute twice a day through our narrow east-west corridor using the H-1 freeway and parallel surface streets. Today’s letter writer lives in windward Kailua and presumably experiences none of these commuters’ frustrations. Traffic is their issue, and Honolulu rail will be an option to sitting in it.
Tourists won’t stop coming to Waikiki or even the west-end resorts because we’ve built transportation infrastructure to improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of local residents. Tourists come for sun, sea, sand and surf. Few if any will be put off by a 30-foot-tall rail system between Ala Moana Center and East Kapolei; many will ride the system to Pearl Harbor and other destinations. Vastly more visible to tourists is the high-rise forest growing in Kakaako and the ones already rooted in Waikiki and downtown that block mountain and ocean views.
The more people travel, the more they appreciate how cities deal with the issues that affect their citizens. Oahu’s major issue is traffic congestion, and we’re dealing with it by building elevated rail.