Sunday, July 29, 2012
Honolulu’s Only Daily Newspaper Names Its Preference for City’s Next Mayor, but You Won’t Learn Who That Is Here at Yes2Rail
As this blog has insisted for months, Yes2Rail is not a politics-oriented blog, and what’s written here isn’t political. In that vein, you’ll have to read the Honolulu Star-Advertiser yourself to learn the paper’s pick in the 2012 mayoral race.
But since Yes2Rail is an educational source of information on the Honolulu rail project, we will repeat here some of the reasons the Star-Advertiser’s editorial says the anti-rail candidate doesn’t deserve to be elected.
By way of background, Yes2Rail began asking what former Governor Ben Cayetano had in mind instead of rail right after he announced his candidacy in January. Since he vowed he’d kill rail, that was a legitimate issue to raise, and we raised it on January 20 one day after Mr. Cayetano’s announcement.
“…this is a one-issue blog – Honolulu rail – and we’re sticking to our naïve notion that if a candidate wants to kill the rail project, which has been planned and vetted for at least six years at the local and national level with a clear set of goals and designs down to the last girder and bolt, the candidate owes the electorate something more than saying it costs too much and is ugly.”
For weeks, Yes2Rail seemed to be the only entity asking for the candidate’s transportation plan. From this former reporter’s perspective, the media’s failure to ask about it was egregious.
So out of frustration, Yes2Rail posted open letters to individual reporters at the Star-Advertiser, Pacific Business News and Hawaii News Now urging them to gird their loins and ask Mr. Cayetano for his detailed plan on what he’d implement instead of rail to address Oahu’s nearly intolerable traffic congestion in the east-west corridor.
Still they demurred, and a Star-Advertiser editorial finally asked – maybe also out of frustration – on May 21st – “What exactly is Cayetano’s transit plan?”
“…since it’s mayoral front-runner (at the time) Ben Cayetano who wants to unplug Honolulu’s hard-won advances toward a fixed-rail solution,” the editorial said, “he is the one who needs to deliver the goods. Professor Cayetano, take the podium and enlighten us.”
(Yes2Rail observation: Since that was exactly what Yes2Rail had been urging since Day One, maybe a blog’s effectiveness should be measured by more than its gross number of visits.)
But Mr. Cayetano never did enlighten the community with a detailed plan to implement his bus rapid transit idea – no specifics on construction costs, routes, frequencies, operating and maintenance expenses, impact on congestion or BRT’s ability to accomplish rail’s goals.
Two months after the newspaper’s “what the plan?” editorial, the Star-Advertiser is still not satisfied and writes today:
“At the outset of Cayetano’s candidacy, we were eager to hear about his traffic initiative: a profound, workable alternative perhaps? Disappointingly, no. There is no revelatory plan, just a half-baked proposal hastily hatched from a 2003 bus rapid transit study.
“Cayetano talks vaguely about a dedicated bus way using the freeway’s Zipper Lane, a new ‘flyover’ ramp approaching town, and perhaps taking a lane each of King and Beretania streets for buses, which would still need to heed the stop-and-go traffic signals.
“Is that enough to get motorists to leave their cars behind? Hardly. Also vague were the financial and political means to make this BRT scheme happen.”
The editorial requires a subscription to the newspaper if you want to read it online, and you’re on your own in learning whom the paper endorses, because we’re not saying.
But we are saying this: Rail’s goals, which have been vetted and approved for years, cannot be accomplished by BRT or any other transportation scheme that’s been proposed as an alternative to rail.
We've been highlighting those goals since early 2011, but if today is the first time you read them, maybe you’ll now be able to judge for yourself why only grade-separated rail transit can deliver fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation for Oahu residents between the ewa plain and town.