Thursday, April 5, 2012

77 Days and Counting: How Much Longer Must We Wait for Details of Candidate’s New/Old Bus Plan?

When former governor anti-rail Ben Cayetano announced his candidacy for mayor on January 19, August’s primary election was 196 days away. As of today, Mr. Cayetano has let nearly 40 percent of that time go by without providing any details on what he’d implement instead of the Honolulu rail project, which he vows to kill.

We’ve only heard dribs and drabs of a bus plan, the specifics of which are still absent but which Mr. Cayetano says “are in a plan approved in the year 2000…” during the Harris Administration. Mr. Cayetano’s continued silence on his plan’s details amounts to a remarkable lack of transparency. Rail has been planned for  years (some would say decades) and would inject $1.55 billion in federal funds into a struggling economy while creating thousands of jobs.
Rail would be the relatively quick travel alternative that would allow commuters to avoid traffic congestion – an option completely missing today – and provide transit-oriented development around stations for future housing and commercial needs. Yet we’re still waiting for Mr. Cayetano’s recycled bus rapid transit plan.

Flip It
Imagine just the opposite set-up. What if the city had not started planning rail seven years ago and a mayoral candidate were entering the 2012 race to propose building such a project as a response to Oahu’s growing traffic congestion.

Would that candidate have waited 77 days to tell the public details of that plan? Of course not. A candidate committed to transparency and respectful of the electorate would have announced those details on Day 1 of the campaign or surely within a couple weeks.

He or she wouldn’t wait three months to roll out the plan, yet that’s what Mr. Cayetano is doing while his team tries to make the case that adding more buses to already crowded streets and highways will actually improve conditions for traffic-weary commuters.

No wonder it’s taking so long. That’s a tough sell, one made even tougher by the years of criticism Cliff Slater, now a member of the Cayetano team, threw at BRT. The Internet Age makes it easy to find those criticisms – including Mr. Slater’s "farce" description of the Harris BRT scheme.

Keep It Hidden
The thinking inside Mr. Cayetano’s campaign may be to continue launching broadsides against the rail project without providing any details of what he’d do instead.

Continue claiming a rail line 30 feet above surface traffic will destroy the city’s character while ignoring the current and planned skyrises 10 times or more taller.

Continue asserting will divert resources away from the city’s emergency services, a claim disputed by those providers.

In other words, continue the magician’s trick of distracting the audience with flourishes over here while setting up the trick over there.

Seventy-seven days into his campaign, Mr. Cayetano’s bus plan fits the description folks once used for Oakland, CA: “There’s no there there.”

People are starting to talk about what the Star-Advertiser called Mr. Cayetano’s “disservice” to the community by sewing “seeds of doubt rather than informing people responsibly. Honolulu residents, and voters in the mayoral election, deserve better.”

Keeping the public in the dark about his new/old bus plan is a pattern they definitely do not deserve.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think we're long past asking Ben for details to his plan. We can safely move forward and claim Ben has no traffic alternate plan.