Mr. Cayetano is an avowed opponent of the city’s intention to build a 20-mile rail line through the urban corridor that would serve communities throughout its length and beyond.
It’s not asking too much to demand some concrete ideas by this mayoral candidate about what he’d do instead of building the traffic-avoiding option of elevated rail transit. (See the blue field above and our disclaimer about what Yes2Rail is not – a political blog.)
This week’s announcement by the Federal Transit Administration granting the project a Letter of No Prejudice has cleared the way for nearly $200 million in heavy construction along Phase One – from East Kapolei to Waipahu. Such a major step would surely also provoke Mr. Cayetano to provide his detailed plan, or so you’d think. After all, 10,000 jobs are hanging in the balance, not to mention future decades of traffic-free travel by untold numbers of Oahu residents.
The FTA’s LONP means we’re literally weeks away from major construction on Phase One, so we poured over Mr. Cayetano’s 472-word statement in HawaiiReporter issued after the FTA’s action to see what he’d say about building an option to elevated rail.
There wasn’t one word in that statement about an option, let alone details about a transportation plan. We even used our browser’s Find function to search for a few key words that might offer insight into Mr. Cayetano’s thinking – transit, bus, trolley, highway, even HOV. Alas, not one of these words is in his statement except for their use in the FTA’s name and within the word “business.” (The word “transit” can’t be found at his campaign site’s Platform page either – more on that below.)
How can that be? Isn’t Mr. Cayetano’s “plan” what residents (and reporters) should be demanding from the man who vows to kill rail in both the Gang of Four federal lawsuit and his campaign? If not elevated rail to give commuters a traffic-avoiding option, what does he want?
But that’s where he stops short – lamenting the project’s $5.3 billion cost while suggesting that money could better be spent upgrading Honolulu’s sewers, storm drains and potholes. It’s at this point we’re reminded of the Doctor Pepper TV spot (or is it Coke Zero?) in which the main actor keeps asking “And…..?“ every time he’s offered something (a job, an ice cream cone, etc.) but expects more.
We wanted more from Mr. Cayetano than this somewhat bizarre commentary. At one point he channels Mr. Slater’s dumbed-down talking point about how “the City concedes rail will not reduce future traffic congestion below current levels – a statement with which the FTA agreed on page 208 of its Record of Decision.”
Please read this sentence aloud for the benefit of anyone sitting nearby: “Rail will not reduce traffic below current levels decades from now because Oahu’s population will continue to grow far above current levels!”
We almost welcome the continued use by Messrs. Slater and Cayetano of such an easily exploded argument (see yesterday’s post), but the rail project is too important to have the community’s discussion on it mucked up by this intellectually dishonest sloganeering.
An example of missing details: His statement doesn’t say how his neighborhood-cruising buses would access the dedicated express bus lanes. The current Zipper Lane has entrances and exits at its ends. Residents of neighborhoods along the bus expressway might well wonder how their neighborhood’s buses would access those lanes – and how much expense would be involved in building the ramps and otherwise modifying the highways.
The campaign’s Platform Page ends with this invitation: “Got Questions? Contact us.” At this point, one will suffice:
“Mr. Cayetano, what exactly are the details of your plan to provide relief to west-side commuters?”