Wednesday, May 16, 2012

STOP THE PRESSES: Details of Cayetano BRT Plan Leak in Radio Show; Oahu Can Anticipate Buses Running in Highways’ Shoulder Lanes!

Mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano officially entered the race 17 weeks ago tomorrow with a pledge that he will kill the Honolulu rail transit project if he’s elected.
That's nearly 120 days during which Mr. Cayetano could have openly discussed the details of the bus rapid transit plan he wants to implement instead of rail. It's logical he'd have such a plan ready for independent analysis by the media, transportation experts and voters, right?

It would be logical but not good politics, as the savvy former governor and his insiders know. Allegedly leading this race according to some but not all public opinion surveys, Mr. Cayetano is limiting his exposure in the media and reducing opportunities for his opponents to debate him.

University of Hawaii Professor Panos Prevedouros, whose anti-rail mayoral campaigns in 2008 and 2010 were remarkably unsuccessful, was the morning anti-rail talk show host’s guest today and took questions that ranged from Greece’s fiscal problems to transit oriented development. One caller wanted to know about Mr. Cayetano’s still-secret BRT “solution.”

'What's the Frequency,' Panos?
Caller “Keith”: Ben Cayetano has mentioned that he’s working on a plan that’s based on the old Jeremy Harris BRT plan, and he mentioned Dr. Prevedouros as one of the people he’s working with. He went on to tell…John Temple of Civil Beat that it would be unveiled April 15. That was 30 days ago. What can Panos tell us about the plan?
Hamada: All right, good question. Thank you, Keith, for the call. 
Prevedouros: I don’t know, Keith. I guess you didn’t have a chance to go to one of the, one of the…what is it called?
Hamada: Chili and rice?
Prevedouros: Chili and rice and discussion-kind of forum. The governor has had three of them where the transportation plan actually is presented. He hasn’t put as much on the website, but you know, he doesn’t have a sewer plan on the website, and he doesn’t have a water main plan on the website, so he is out there and he’s talking about it.
(Yes2Rail: Dr. Prevedouros acknowledges that the candidate has yet to post the BRT plan at the campaign website, and the justification apparently is that he’s not posting ANY details about what he’d do to “fix” Oahu. Could Mr. Cayetano’s campaign be any less transparent?)
Prevedouros: As you said, you are correct that, you know, part of his plan is to beef up the number-one bus transit system in the United States instead of trying to cut its schedules and make it, you know, one of the worst by taking away its money and restructuring the routes, etc., etc. I think (unintelligible) is building for something that we are number one in the nation, and that’s the best strategy we could possibly have.
(Yes2Rail: Dr. Prevedouros’ sweeping generalization contains no details, no specifics and nothing of substance – so far.)
Hamada: Speaking directly about Mayor Harris’ BRT plan that eventually was scrapped, are there benefits to that particular plan, and is there a move afoot to really take some of the details that previously had been proposed and implement them, Panos?
Prevedouros: Definitely, with a lot of additions. One of the problems, the early problems of that plan was that there was some discomfort on the part of the State DOT for the use of ramps or special ramps on the freeway, etc. But the revised plan essentially uses something that is used extensively in a few other places in the United States and worldwide, which is called BOS – bus on shoulder. So in addition to the Zipper lane, and now we’re gonna have also a P.M. Zipper lane which did not even exist in the time of Mayor Harris, we have ways to really provide meaningful and, uh, bus service from multiple areas, particularly areas that are facing severe congestion such as any area between Mililani and Kapolei.

Buses operating on the freeway’s shoulder is one more detail of Mr. Cayetano’s BRT plan we didn’t know prior to this radio interview, making a total three details: (#2) Some of the BRT system would be elevated (we know not where), and (#3) some parking space on Beretania and King streets (and presumably some traffic lanes, too) will be needed for BRT (see yesterday’s Yes2Rail post on Mr. Cayetano’s Hawaii Filipino Chronicle interview). And that’s all, folks.

Envision this – buses speeding along in the shoulder lane next to cars creeping along in H-1 congestion in the slow lane. How does that look to you? It looks impossible and dramatically unsafe to us. No traffic engineer with a shred of common sense could endorse a plan calling for buses traveling 55 mph three feet or less from cars moving at 5 mph.

Not that they’d ever get up to 55 mph or, if they could, stay there for long. Shoulder lanes exist as safety margins and space for vehicles that have broken down. Mr. Cayetano apparently has adopted a plan that would turn the shoulder over to buses. So BOS isn't really rapid, is it? Let the questioning begin.

Callers like Keith wonder about Mr. Cayetano’s missing BRT plan deadline and ask questions the Honolulu news media should be asking, a point we’ve beaten to death over the past month, including yesterday. With schemes like BOS and LTA (Lane Take-Away), it’s obvious why the candidate is reluctant to expose his plan’s details, such as they are.

Less obvious are the media’s reasons for not demanding to know them.

This post has been added to our "aggregation site" under the 2012 Mayoral Race & Rail heading.


Hannah Miyamoto said...

The biggest problem with Bus-on-Shoulder in Honolulu isn't safety (BOS is usually at about 30 mph). "This Ain't the Mainland," and we don't have shoulders that are wide enough along much of the city freeway system; see., e.g., the H-1 viaduct by the airport. There also are no such shoulders on Nimitz Hwy. from H-1 to downtown.

Anonymous said...

It's a sad day when so called experts forget the very purpose of shoulder lanes (emergency lanes). Besides, wasn't there another plan to remove shoulder lanes and create an extra lane on the freeway? So will the BRT be performing the ski maneuver?

Anonymous said...

That "BOS" plan sure sounds like plain old BS.