Friday, March 2, 2012

Cayetano: Rail Supporters Are ‘Trained Seals’ in Passionately Supporting Rail, Says He Wants BRT But Has Provided Absolutely No Details on ‘Plan’, Plus: HART Picks Grabauskas to Lead Rail Project

NOTE: While not a political blog, Yes2Rail necessarily covers the comments of the politician who vows to kill rail if elected.
The anti-rail editor of tossed a few softballs to the former governor who’s running for mayor outside the second of two anti-rail forums featuring four mainland highway advocates on Wednesday.

As rail supporters chanted “GO RAIL GO” a few feet away, she asked him what he felt about the noisy demonstration. Ben Cayetano responded:

“They’re like trained seals, you know what I mean? They’re doing what they…they probably practice, but maybe they should practice learning a little bit. Just giving the other side the benefit of free discussion, and they apparently are not willing to do that.”
The demonstrators were outside the forum’s meeting room and therefore were not interfering with “free discussion.” Mr. Cayetano’s dismissal of rail supporters as circus performers might actually motivate them to work even harder and louder for rail.

A Related Development
Less than 24 hours later, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) board of directors appointed Daniel Grabauskas HART’s chief executive officer to lead construction and operation of the project.

As reported in the Star-Advertiser (subscription), Mr. Grabauskas said he knows “…that many people say that they are for rail, but they are not for the way it’s going, and I hear that. So what I look forward to doing is to coming here and…address each of those issues so we can win those folks over to the idea that rail is actually something that can enhance the quality of their lives.”

We anticipate that Mr. Grabauskas will soon discover that he’ll be fighting a determined effort to kill rail that relies on misinformation intended to deliberately mislead and confuse Oahu residents.

The Traffic Issue
That intent was evident in Mr. Cayetano’s Wednesday anti-rail remarks, which are available for viewing on YouTube courtesy of

“I think a lot of people on the (pro-rail) side are in denial. They started with reduced traffic congestion. We know it won’t. The city admits it won’t. The FTA says it won’t.”
Following the lead of anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater, Mr. Cayetano has made the “future traffic congestion” issue the centerpiece of his anti-rail campaign by asserting the obvious – that traffic congestion on Oahu will continue to increase after rail is built.

In so doing, he and Mr. Slater want the public to believe rail isn’t worth building if congestion will continue. (Our “aggregation” site has links to many uses of this talking point under the heading Mr. Cliff Slater and Friends.)

Freedom from Traffic
We call it a “dumbed-down” argument because of course congestion will grow over the decades as the population grows and so, too, does the number of vehicles on the island.

In constantly referring to congestion’s inevitable growth, the anti-railers are implying that rail isn’t worth building if it won’t “solve” traffic. Mr. Grabauskas will see soon enough that the Slater/Cayetano talking point has successfully turned some residents against rail precisely because of a slick delivery that discourages much of any thinking about transportation.

The new CEO will also discover that Messrs. Cayetano and Slater never accurately describe the rail project’s goals and what rail will deliver – fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation through the city that is completely traffic-free. In other words, they never tell the public the truth about rail and its purpose.

The truth is that rail will be the missing piece of transportation infrastructure that will work in close harmony with TheBus to serve those who choose to use Oahu’s mass transit system. Highways will continue to serve many more commuters, and that’s a logical assessment of future commuting patterns.

Still No Details
Mr. Cayetano officially announced his campaign for mayor six weeks ago yesterday and has yet to give any specifics on his preference instead of rail – bus rapid transit. From Wednesday:

“I intend to go down to places like Kapolei with my group of city advisors to talk to people, to tell them the other side of the coin, to tell them why this is something we cannot afford and it won’t reduce traffic congestion and it is not the best alternative. The best alternative is bus rapid transit….”
Mr. Cayetano hasn’t gone much further in laying out his BRT plan than that statement. He’s mentioned express lanes and even commented favorably a few weeks ago about the San Diego trolley system. But that’s as much as we know from the man who would kill rail – a classic pig-in-a-poke selling job that doesn’t accurately describe what he’s selling.

Continuing from Wednesday:

“We are the only ones, the only city in the nation of our size that is trying to do something like this. Steel-on-steel heavy rail is obsolete technology, 50 years old at least. The other cities are going to bus rapid transit and other kinds of alternatives. We should be looking at that, too.”
This is what Mr. Grabauskas now confronts in a candidate who intends to kill rail – bizarre opinions about rail's alleged obsolescence (tell that to cities around the world using it) and vague references to “bus rapid transit and other kinds of alternatives” that are unspecified, not articulated and utterly lacking in details.

We welcome him to Honolulu and extend our best wishes and support. The ride he just began in Honolulu may be at least the equal of anything he faced in Boston.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trained seals? Nice, alienate the voters when you're running for mayor.