Highway advocate Panos Prevedouros described how “managed lanes” work in October 2010: “Higher tolls are necessary to discourage overloading,” he wrote in a HawaiiReporter.com commentary.
By “overloading,” Dr. Prevedouros means “congestion,” so the way managed lanes manage to keep congestion at bay and down there on surface streets is to jack up the tolls until only the relatively well-to-do can afford them.
That’s quite a concept. It obviously fails to satisfy one of the Honolulu rail project’s main goals – to ensure transportation equity for all citizens along the line, regardless of financial capability.
With that preamble, we can examine a commentary extolling managed lanes in yesterday’s Star-Advertiser (subscription). One of Cliff Slater’s anti-rail colleagues described their alleged benefits; not mentioned, of course, are the disadvantages, which we’re happy to cover.
John Brizdle writes that “express buses on managed lanes would be superior to rail in every category” on their route from Waipahu to downtown Honolulu. Details are scarce throughout the commentary, including the failure to mention on- and off-ramps between those two points to service communities along the route.
He also skips past the build-up of congestion at the start and end of those lanes that the rail project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement says would become a significant problem. Here’s how a letter in today’s Star-Advertiser (subscription) puts it:
Beyond that, the commentary praises managed lanes as a jobs project, a observation that is out of synch with opponents' objections to rail on that very point.
Mr. Brizdle then notes that his express buses would have drivers, a feature he praises as a security enhancement. Drivers would increase the cost to operate the bus fleet, and since fully automated trains with no drivers (and therefore no human error potential) is a significant way to control operating expense, the lanes come up short in this respect, too.
That’s a huge blind spot for managed-lane advocates. They wave off or simply refuse to acknowledge the accidents that happen on our streets and highways each day – accidents that would severely degrade the performance of elevated lanes that would give motorists no possibility of escape.
Elevated Honolulu rail will completely avoid all traffic congestion, including that caused by accidents. How often must that be said?
Rail cannot do what – close lanes and open lanes? It makes no sense, and beyond that, Mr. Brizdle ignores the obvious advantage of rail transit – complete segregation from whatever is happening on roads and freeways. Let them close the freeway all they want for visiting dignitaries; that would not affect rail commuters in the least.
Aside from the fact that managed lanes would not appear out of thin air with no taxpayer support, this is as bizarre argument. Rail opponents seem to think their managed lanes concept is a “magic bullet” that would “solve” congestion. Today’s letter dismisses magical thinking:
“Like any large, publicly funded project, there are bound to be questions and concerns about how best to proceed,” Inouye said, a reference to the recent Star-Advertiser opinion survey that – more than anything – revealed the result of ongoing efforts by rail opponents to confuse the issues.