Maybe that’s our naiveté coming through, because someone writing a political blog (which this isn’t) or who’s a political science professor at the university might see it differently. Their advice might be, “Don’t discuss the details, because the devil is in the details! Stay clear of details; they can only trip you up.”
But this is a one-issue blog – Honolulu rail – and we’re sticking to our naïve notion that if a candidate wants to kill the rail project, which has been planned and vetted for at least six years at the local and national level with a clear set of goals and designs down to the last girder and bolt, the candidate owes the electorate something more than saying it costs too much and is ugly.
And that’s as far as the coverage of Mr. Cayetano’s transportation plan goes. You can search through all the available reports on websites belonging to the TV stations, Civil Beat, Pacific Business News and even HawaiiReporter, and the only reference to the candidate’s trolley/bus plan is what you’ve already read above. How can that possibly be?
When the candidate said, as described in the Star-Advertiser, “he would release details next week of his plans for the city’s sewage and secondary treatment plant upgrades, road repairs and other city projects,” they would have said, “And when will you release similar details about your trolley and bus scheme?”
Local journalism isn’t what it used to be, so we’re still in the dark about the one issue that will be front-and-center throughout the next several months – giving commuters relief from intolerable traffic congestion.
The only other goal we can discern is his desire to preserve view planes, which he says will be destroyed by rail’s elevated guideway. In the absence of any details, his two goals seem to be a cheaper system built at ground level.
How do those goals compare to an elevated system’s goals and attributes? Would an at-grade trolley/bus system that shares freeway lanes serve the community properly? The freeway is nowhere near the business, education, shopping and community centers that will be served along Honolulu rail’s route.
Would the system have on- and off-ramps every mile or so, or would it simply be a super-Zipper lane connecting the ends of the system, leaving commuters along the route with no way to access it?
If one or more trolley lines were built, continuous trenching would be required several feet deep throughout the route, thereby endangering the cultural artifacts and remains much more than the elevated system to which Mr. Cayetano objects.
Buses and trolleys require humans at the controls, which means greater distances between trolleys and therefore less frequent service. Rail’s trains will arrive every 3 minutes during peak periods. How would his trolley's frequency compare to rail's? If not as good, his system would be less attractive to potential riders.
As we have said repeatedly here at Yes2Rail, at-grade systems have much worse safety records than grade-separated transit because of their interaction with other surface traffic, including pedestrians. Search it out for yourself on the Internet and at our "aggregation" site beneath the Elevated vs At-Grade heading, or simply go to our post earlier this week on the San Diego trolley’s alarming fatalities. Mr. Cayetano has expressed a preference for such a system.
So far, we know next to nothing about Mr. Cayetano’s transit plan, and we’re likely to read what he thinks about sewers, water fees and potholes before he chooses to provide those devilish details. If the elephant-in-the-living room description ever applied to anything, Mr. Cayetano’s missing transit plan is the perfect fit.