Friday, February 10, 2012

Anti-Rail Highway Advocate Makes Extraordinary On-Air Admission: Rail Transit System’s Goal Is Improved Mobility, Not Reduced Congestion. He Should Tell that to Cliff Slater and Ben Cayetano!

University of Hawaii Professor Panos Prevedouros, whose online bio accentuates his highway-related studies but reveals no obvious rail transit expertise, nevertheless does understand at least one critical fact about rail transit:
“Transit systems are not considered traffic mitigation projects,” he told a talk show host on a local radio station yesterday. “What are they? They are mobility enhancement systems. That is actually the reason they exist. This may be a little startling…but providing mobility and an alternative to driving is sufficient. That’s why Cliff Slater from very early on has been saying the (Honolulu project’s) scope is insufficient. From the beginning the project has been about mobility enhancement. That is the scope of the project.”
He had it exactly right. Rail will restore mobility in the urban core, something that’s been lost due to ever-increasing traffic congestion. The anti-rail radio host was so stunned or perplexed by the professor’s accurate description of rail’s mobility-enhancing goal that he let it slide by without more than a verbal nod.

Maybe Professor Prevedouros can repeat his observation to anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater and mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano. Quite clearly, they’ve substituted their own idea of what they think rail should do instead of truly understanding rail’s role in Honolulu’s mix of transportation alternatives.

Messrs. Slater and Cayetano repeatedly assert that rail is being built here to reduce traffic congestion. Mr. Slater has been implying it for years – see numerous posts at our “aggregation” site under the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading – and now Mr. Cayetano is repeating the same misinformation.

“Eliminate” Congestion?
They have two reasons to spread this falsehood. First, they’re drivers at heart, not transit riders, so a traffic reduction goal fits their orientation. More to the point, highway use will continue to increase as the population grows – the link is obvious – so they’re trying to convince the public before rail is even built is that rail isn't worth the effort because it won’t achieve their goal. Unmentioned by them, of course, is that rail transit riders will enjoy exceptionally better mobility by avoiding highway congestion altogether.

Some citizens fall for the Slater/Cayetano line so totally that they actually believe the rail project’s goal is to “eliminate traffic congestion,” as a letter in MidWeek stated three months ago. The absurdity of actually accomplishing that in the absence of population controls and other draconian measures should be obvious to all but the most ardent rail haters.

The “misunderstood goals issue” comes at an important time for Honolulu rail. Major construction is about to begin now that the Federal Transit Administration has sent the city a Letter of No Prejudice. The public will read, see and hear more about the project in the weeks ahead than perhaps any time during the past several years.

It’s therefore the perfect time to dispel inaccuracies about the project, including the accidental or deliberate mischaracterization of rail’s goals by a mayoral candidate and his primary anti-rail adviser.

The irony that the truth comes from another highway advocate like the UH professor makes the message that much sweeter.

This post has been added to our "aggregation" site under the Dr. Panos Prevedouros heading.

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