Sunday, July 22, 2012
We Finally Follow an Old Friend’s Old Advice and Bang Away on Honolulu Rail’s Four Goals Again
“What’s wrong with you?” the retired UH professor demands for the umpteenth time. “Why don’t you write about rail’s goals in every one of your posts?”
I put up with a steady stream of good-natured-but-earnest badgering by Jerry Comcowich because our friendship dates to the summer of 1973 when I moved to Hawaii and my family settled into his Windward Side neighborhood.
“But I’ve written about rail’s goals time and again,” I protest, having convinced myself that constant repetition may drive down my (apparently all-important) readership numbers. But that line of argument does me no good with Dr. Comcowich.
“You’ve got to keep reminding everyone – even the politicians – of why rail is being built!” he responds. “Rail’s opponents have no way to accomplish rail’s goals with buses or toll roads or anything else, so they stay as far away from those goals as possible. You simply must write about the goals!”
My contract to provide rail project information to the community will be terminated in three weeks, so it can’t hurt to give in to my old friend and go out with a flourish. The best way to do that, he and I agree, is to remind everyone of what rail will accomplish.
“It’s Mobility, Stupid!”
We wrote in Yes2Rail’s first post on June 30, 2008 that the timing to launch the blog was good, since “the second half of ’08 is going to be loaded with fireworks over the proposed fixed-guideway rail transit project for Honolulu.” It was a conservative prediction, since those fireworks are with us four years later, bolder and louder than ever.
Something else written in that first post is relevant to Dr. Comcowich’s constant admonitions today:
“Honolulu is closer than ever to actually building a transit line that will restore mobility to a population that has none in the traffic-choked 20 miles between west Oahu and downtown Honolulu.”
Without knowing for sure back then what rail’s primary goals were, Yes2Rail nevertheless highlighted one of them in its first post – the restoration of mobility to the population. Honolulu’s elevated rail line will be the means.
“”When your mode of travel is separated from traffic,” the post continued, “something wonderful happens: You can accurately predict your arrival time…. Grade-separated transit speeds you to your destination without having to contend with traffic jams, and that allows you to arrive at your destination according to a timetable.”
Four Years Ago Today
Jerry Comcowich undoubtedly was pleased with that post for its focus on a big goal, and we continued to bang away about mobility in that first month. Three weeks later on July 22, Yes2Rail returned to this theme in a post headlined In Real Estate, the Word Is ‘Location;’ for Rail, The Word that Must Be Mentioned Is ‘Mobility’
The post began with a reference to a two-part essay by Kanu Hawaii’s principals on the Honolulu rail project that emphasized the need to respect the traditions of Aloha in the islands rather than attack one another while debating the biggest project in state history.
“What is at stake in Oahu’s rail controversy?” they asked. “If the proponents of the City’s plan to build a rail system are correct, this is our last chance to build a critical transportation element that will ease traffic congestion, clean the environment and spark positive economic development.”
Yes2Rail then noted that the mobility concept was missing in the essay:
“Easing traffic congestion (some would say ‘solving traffic’) is not the core mission of this project. Even the City says congestion will be only 11 percent less in 2030 than it would be without rail, and opponents continually attack the project on this point while missing the bigger point.”
It’s worth pausing here to accentuate rail’s traffic-mitigation mission. As far back as July 2008 we were noting both the City’s honest predictions on future congestion – it will get worse, with or without rail – and the opponents’ deceitful condemnation of the project for its failure to prevent the inevitable. See our “aggregation site” and the Mr. Cliff Slater (and Friends) heading for many examples of this spurious accusation.
The July 22, 2008 post continued: “It cannot be denied that rail will achieve mobility in the urban corridor for commuters who have little or no unimpeded movement today. Rail will allow those who choose to ride to move 20 miles back and forth through the heart of our city, day in and day out, on time, every time, no matter the congestion on streets and highways. THAT is what this project will accomplish. It won’t and doesn’t pretend to ‘solve’ Oahu’s traffic problem.”
So we begin our final three weeks under contract to the rail project with yet another reminder about urban mobility and rail’s critical contribution to its restoration for this and all the generations of this century.
It may be the umpteenth time Yes2Rail has mentioned mobility, but knowing Dr. Jerome Comcowich, he'll want more! Stay tuned.