Saturday, January 14, 2012

Anti-Railers Import ‘Hired Gun’ To Attack Project; Long Anti-Transit History Undermines Credibility

The anti-rail minority’s game plan for 2012 already is in play, and this week’s Smart-Business Hawaii Conference was part of it. Here’s how they're executing the plan:

Bring in so-called “experts” from the mainland to blast rail, generate media coverage (like the 6-column story in today’s paper) and create doubt about the Honolulu rail project’s viability.
Wendell Cox, the second of two mainland imports this week, told the conference Thursday Honolulu rail’s cost estimate is too low and its ridership projection is too high. The Star-Advertiser story (subscription) has the city’s response, which noted the FTA has exerted “stringent oversight” and continues to show confidence in Honolulu’s project.
Thankfully, the Internet age provides context about Mr. Cox that’s too often missing in the daily media, including today’s story. His multi-decade anti-rail campaign is well documented. Here’s LightRailNow!’s 2001 assessment:
“One of the most notorious ‘hired guns’ for the roadway industry and anti-transit, anti-rail zealots is the nationally known, self-styled ‘consultant,’ Wendell Cox. Cox has established a reputation for himself both as a roadway industry publicist and, particularly, as a ‘professional expert’ opposing light rail transit (LRT) projects…. Cox and his ilk are nothing more than highly biased crusaders for roadways and road-based transportation industrial interests…who distort facts through misrepresentation and cleverly selective manipulation of data to mislead their audience….
“In the case of some of these anti-rail zealots, researchers have bird-dogged the money trail. Wendell Cox, for example, has been on the bankroll of the American Highway Users Alliance, a lobbying group founded in the 1930s by General Motors Corp. And, according to a June 1999 Texas Observer article, the Wendell Cox Consultancy has done a lot of work for private bus companies who bid on the very contracts which Cox promotes after rail projects are scuttled.”
And so on. There's tons more on Mr. Cox on the Internet; search engines will produce his background and decades-long opposition to rail transit, the leading transportation alternative to increasingly congested highway travel.

Other Imports
We’re just two weeks into the year and already anti-railers have rounded up entertainer Bette Midler, columnist John Fund and now “hired gun” Wendell Cox to slam Honolulu rail. Expect more of the same.

Remember, too, that all the issues visitors from the mainland are fond of advancing have been thoroughly vetted for years in the Alternatives Analysis and the Draft and Final Environmental Impact statements. They bring nothing to the table but their fears (in Ms. Midler's case) and years of campaigning against mass transit and big government programs.

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