A teenager was seriously injured Saturday evening when he was run over by a train, and a car was destroyed yesterday afternoon after turning into a train’s path.
Unlike what happens Las Vegas, when Phoenix’s light-rail system experiences something unsavory, it makes news here in Honolulu, where opponents of the city's’s future rail system say it should be built at ground level – like in Phoenix.
Putting such a high premium on aesthetics in the planning stage would have degraded the Honolulu system’s safety, however. It will be impossible for street-level vehicles and Honolulu’s elevated trains to collide along the 20-mile line. Pedestrians also will be grade-separated from the tracks, so they won’t be making news like the 17-year-old boy unfortunately did on Saturday night in Phoenix.
Focusing so much on view planes betrays a tunnel-vision appreciation of the Honolulu project. Not only would an at-grade system be extraordinarily hazardous compared to being elevated, ground-level transit can’t possibly be as fast, frequent and reliable as elevated rail.
Those are the attributes required by any transit future system to address Oahu’s growing traffic congestion crisis. Only grade-separated transit can deliver them. As Yes2Rail suggested yesterday, citizens have a right to demand answers from those who would kill the only system capable of bypassing congestion altogether.