What’s over-the-top outrageous is the advice provided by a traffic reporter to homeward-bound drivers on Wednesday – to simply “hang out for at least a few hours until the traffic dies.”
Hang out? What about the kids in preschool who needed picking up before the “late fee” kicked in? What about kids who needed rides to after-school activities? And what about the grocery shopping and the dinner that had to be on the table? Hang out for at least a few hours?
It’s only February 2012 and already we’ve had at least one road incident that blocked several highways simultaneously on Oahu. Can you imagine what it will be like in a few more years?
Let’s try to imagine it. You know the population’s going to grow, barring an unknown event or circumstances. Oahu’s population increased 8.8 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to the 2010 State Data Book. The number of registered vehicles on Oahu increased by nearly twice that rate during the same period – 17.1 percent.
So looking ahead to 2020, if the population and vehicle registrations were to increase at the same rate this decade as the past one, Oahu would have 83,882 more residents and 123,166 more vehicles by the end of 2020. The totals would be 1,037,089 and 843,433 respectively.
Elevated rail will deliver a level of service that car commuters have lost. Imagine being able to know exactly when you’ll arrive at your destination. That’s what rail will give commuters – a timetable that tells them exactly when they’ll arrive at the Waipahu Station, the Aloha Stadium station, the Honolulu International Airport station and all the other stations along the line.
From one end to the next, the ride will take exactly 42 minutes, and you’ll know your arrival time at your destination station as you step aboard the train. Try making an accurate prediction of your arrival time today when you head off in your car during peak travel time through our narrow east-west urban core.
You can’t do that except for dumb luck. Deep down, highway users know that’s true, and as much as they love the freedom that driving their own cars gives them, they also know that increasingly bad traffic congestion is not sustainable.
Individuals with good access to the rail option via walking, buses or park-and-ride will take the train rather than drive for two principle reasons – convenience and cost. Just as congestion will increase, so will the cost to operate and maintain the family car.
Nobody should have to just kill time in town until the traffic jams melt away. Time lost is lost, no matter where it’s lost – in traffic or chilling in town. That’s the traffic reporter’s advice in 2012, but it will be a thing of the past for commuters who choose to ride Honolulu's future rail system.
This is Day #15 since Mr. Cayetano’s official entry into the mayoral race and he’s yet to tell Oahu citizens detail #1 about his transit plan. Yesterday’s remarks didn't qualify, so just like the Columnist Watch and our 2012 prediction of what the Star-Advertiser scribes will say about Honolulu rail, we’re watching to see how long it will be before Mr. Cayetano proposes a travel option through town that will be as fast, frequent, reliable and safe as elevated rail. We’re guessing he can’t and therefore won't.