Saturday, April 14, 2012

Saturday Review Has Prediction for Sunday: Op-Ed Will Unveil Mayoral Candidate’s BRT Plan, Plus: New HART CEO Meets Press and Community

April 15th doesn’t hold the same terror as usual this year, since “tax day” is pushed back a couple. But Sunday is the middle of the month, and anti-rail mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano told Civil Beat almost a month ago he’d provide details of his bus rapid transit plan "by mid-April." Tomorrow could be the day.

We’re speculating he’ll use a commentary in the Star-Advertiser tomorrow to finally tell Oahu residents how he intends to implement the Harris Administration's BRT scheme, which was run out of town for turning car lanes into bus-only lanes, for not doing enough to shorten travel times and for other troubles.

It’s about time, we’d say. Mr. Cayetano announced his candidacy 86 days ago in mid-January. If we were in his shoes and vowing to kill Honolulu rail without having something new and viable that would meet the need, we might stall, too.

Reviewing the Week
Our Saturday Review this week flatly predicts we’ll be reading a Ben Cayetano commentary Sunday morning, and if we don’t, we’ll be asking for those details again soon enough.

Yes2Rail’s Thursday post quoted several conclusions from rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement on the Transit System Management option that may be close to what Mr. Cayetano has in mind. Whatever that is, we’ll all want to read carefully whether it has been tweaked enough to avoid the same conclusions about TSM found in the FEIS.

One reason TSM was dismissed during the Alternatives Analysis – the crucial one – is that “road congestion also would not have been alleviated.” That’s the issue on Oahu, isn’t it? Congestion worsens each year and will keep getting worse throughout this decade and beyond. With a couple hundred thousand more residents on Oahu in 2030 than in 2005, congestion can’t do anything else.

We linked to two studies studies last week that essentially show why more highway construction – including "express lanes” – is an ineffective response to congestion. Like Parkinson’s law, which says “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion,” traffic fills new highway lanes nearly as soon as they’re built.

The appropriate response is the one selected years ago by the City Council – to build a travel alternative that avoids that congestion completely for anyone who chooses to use it. That’s what Honolulu rail will do for its scores of thousands of daily patrons.

Even Cliff Slater, leader of a vocal anti-rail faction, had to admit two years ago at the City Council something he usually won’t say in public: “We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all.”

Public Opinion
We also wrote this week about the two public opinion polls that allegedly found slippage in the public’s support for rail. We don’t believe it and repeated our reasons on Wednesday under this headline: We’ll Believe a Media-Sponsored Public Opinion Rail Survey When They Do One that’s Believable.

You can’t select out from the survey sample the half of the population that’s most likely to use rail transit just because those citizens don’t vote. Civil Beat’s polling company surveyed only likely voters in this year’s elections.

That makes sense to learn which candidate is leading the horse race now and may win, but that decision by Civil Beat’s management or its polling company essentially swung and missed in learning what the entire population thinks about rail – precisely because it narrowed the survey. We see no reason to believe core support for rail has slipped from the strong levels found in three previous scientific surveys of the entire population.

The Star-Advertiser/Hawaii News Now poll that started all the talk about slippage went into the field one week after Mr. Cayetano launched his campaign with anti-rail quotes that were widely reported in the news media. Even Hawaii News Now subsequently reported that the timing “could have skewed results against the project.”

When a poll’s sponsor publicly doubts the accuracy of its findings, you know it had problems.

Dan Grabauskas, the new CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, started work in his new position this week and has been busy promoting transparency and more communication with Oahu residents about rail. The photo at right  accompanied Civil Beat's interview with the new CEO.

Sounds good to us. This is Yes2Rail’s 712th post, and at an average of 750 words each (a conservative guess; yesterday's post on Panos Prevedouros' "magical" plan to create four street lanes out of one had nearly 1,300), we’ve shot more than a half million of them into cyberspace since the summer of 2008, with more to come.

A few hundred on Mr. Cayetano's BRT plan will fill this space tomorrow if our prediction is accurate.  After 86 days, it’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop.


Anonymous said...

Heard a bus driver on the #1 line claim that rail will suck up enough bus funding to lay off 200 drivers. How can that be when rail needs buses to extend its reach?

Doug Carlson said...

Sounds like scare-the-drivers talk. TheBus will be critically important to the success of the rail system, so it would be nonsensical to cut back its routes. Tell your driver friend not to worry.