Thursday, July 26, 2012
Latest Spot from Anti-Rail Candidate Needs a Long, Lingering Look: He’s Flat-Out Wrong In Suggesting Drivers Won’t Benefit once Trains Are Operating
Yes2Rail is nearing its end as a Honolulu rail project communications tool, so we’re giving it a new look for the final three weeks before Drop-Dead Day, August 16th.
The main reason we’re out the door, it seems, is because a minority of City Council members thinks we’ve been “unethical” in commenting on mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano’s transportation plans.
To them, commenting on those plans and comparing them against the rail project is the same as “criticizing” the candidate. Maybe only sitting politicians see it that way and prefer a sanitized approach to examining the option proposed by Mr. Cayetano.
Yes2Rail has been communicating about Honolulu rail for four years now, including what opponents offer as allegedly better alternatives. They include Cliff Slater’s and Panos Prevedouros’ high-occupancy toll roads, as well as Mr. Cayetano’s new plan to resurrect bus rapid transit from its failed iteration under the Harris Administration.
If those plans don’t measure up, Yes2Rail isn’t going to look the other way and ignore them. That would amount to caving in to criticism instead of standing up and saying what needs to be said.
Mr. Cayetano’s newest radio commercial, posted online by Civil Beat, begins by asking the listener, “Are you stuck in traffic right now? If you are, let me ask you something: Will you take rail when it’s completed ten to fifteen years from now?”
Barely 8 seconds into it, the spot goes off the rails by suggesting the rail project won’t be completed until 2022 or 2027. For the record, the project is scheduled to be fully operational along its entire 20-mile line in eight years, and nothing but wishful thinking by opponents backs up a longer time frame.
The spot then tells the listener to “take a look at the guy in the car to the right of you. Do you think he will use rail after the five billion dollar project is complete? Or what about the person on the left of you? Do you think they will use rail? If you don’t think so, you are correct.”
'You Are Correct'?
Just like that – you are correct? Doesn’t it depend on where you’re driving when you’re creeping along so slowly or stopped in traffic that you can safely look all around you? Of course it does, yet the spot's message is that nobody is going to ride the train.
And that is not correct. Try asking that question while sitting in traffic on the H-1 freeway between Kapolei and town. That’s where rail will make a different – not principally on Kalanianaole Highway in East Honolulu or on the trans-Koolau highways bringing in cars from the Windward Side.
Yet rail opponents, including the mayoral candidate who vows to kill the project, want you to believe rail would be a failure if only 2 percent of drive-time commuters switch to rail. They want you to believe rail is allegedly supposed to be for everybody, which is preposterous.
Oahu’s biggest congestion problem obviously is in the east-west corridor between the ewa plain communities and town. That’s where rail will make the biggest difference by attracting commuters to get off the roads and highways and start taking the train.
The radio spot completely ignores that point, and this one, too: Even if you don’t ride the future train, your driving experience will be better. Vehicle hours of delay with rail in place by 2030 will be reduced by 18 percent – islandwide! Yes2Rail looked into this point three weeks ago today and provided links to the the Final Environmental Impact Statement’s discussion on this significant congestion-reduction benefit.
Wanna Ride TheBus?
The spot concludes by pitching a detail-less bus rapid transit plan that would cost less.
We can only speculate on what the answers would be if you lowered your car window while parked on the freeway and asked your neighbor if they’d rather be riding TheBus.
People who drive their own personal vehicle already have made a decision to not ride TheBus, and there’s no reason to believe they’d flock to a less personal and less attractive kind of transportation unless there were a perceivable up-tick in the experience.
As good a system as Honolulu has, TheBus doesn’t measure up to what mode-switchers want, and residents who switch and start taking the train will be doing it for a couple primary reasons:
One, Honolulu’s elevated rail system will avoid all traffic congestion, unlike any form of bus transit, which somewhere along the route must operate in the mix of other traffic. And two, they’ll save time and money in the process. Do the math.
Ignoring this deceptive radio message – even in Yes2Rail’s final three weeks – would simply be a cop-out. If a politician wants to take us to task for telling the truth, let him or her do so, but it would seem pretty peculiar.