Monday, August 6, 2012

Are Any Oahu Residents Still ‘Undecided’ on Rail? If You’re Not Sure What To Think about This Technology only 5 Days before the Primary, Maybe Weighing Values Like ‘Truth’ and ‘Honesty’ Will Help You Make Up Your Mind

Citizens still unsure of how to vote in Saturday’s Primary Election apparently haven’t heard enough to form an opinion and are still searching for honest answers to their questions.

If that’s you, maybe this will help:

By the end of Honolulu’s most important week since Statehood in 1959, the city’s future could be as bleak and blank as this page on the Vote Ben 2012 campaign website.

Nothing fills the white space on a page that’s devoted to “Ben’s Solutions – Real solutions to our traffic problems – solutions that will benefit everyone and that we can afford.” An excerpt of the page is shown at right.

This blank page is more than ironic; it also says something about those who promise “solutions” to Oahu’s traffic issues. Put bluntly, there is no way to “solve” traffic, and anyone who promises “real solutions” to traffic is promising the impossible. It also says they’re out of touch

Playing Straight with the Facts
Promising Real Solutions to traffic congestion has a superficial appeal to it, but consider this handful of facts:
• Traffic congestion grows as the population grows.
• Oahu’s population will continue to grow by another 150,000 to 200,000 by 2030.
• There’s no legal way to prevent migration to Hawaii or (God forbid) prevent couples from having children.
• The number of vehicles will grow as the population increases.
• There’s insufficient space on Oahu to build more highways and no apparent support among the public to do so.
• Traffic isn’t solved by adding lanes, which studies show are filled with vehicles as soon as drivers perceive an advantage to driving on them.
• This is the 21st Century, and Oahu can’t achieve pre-Statehood traffic levels again.
• Elevated Honolulu rail will provide congestion-free travel for everyone who rides it and reduce traffic's growth rate.

It’s surprising to see the “solution” word being used at this late date. Twenty years ago, a group called Honolulu Taxpayers for Traffic Solutions was formed to support Mayor Fasi’s elevated rail plan but was ridiculed on this very same point – for suggesting traffic can be solved.

The premise it can be solved is the foundation of anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater’s entire movement, which has managed to sweep up the anti-rail mayoral candidate and others who’ve bought his “solutions” line.

Here’s Mr. Slater’s mission statement – plainly displayed on his website:

“Our mission: Offering cost effective ways to reduce traffic congestion on Oahu. The problem with the solutions offered by elected officials is that they are all based on motorists reducing their use of the automobile and using public transportation instead. This is wishful thinking. Elected officials cannot point to any city that has ‘invested’ in any form of public transportation, heavy rail, light rail or bus/rapid transit and increased the use of public transportation as a whole even though billions of dollar (sic) have been spent trying. Accordingly our mission is to work to find what can be implemented to reduce congestion that has worked elsewhere.”

What an amazing page this is in revealing both Mr. Slater's anti-government philosophy (public transit is bad, cars are good) and in inventing the suggestion that public transit is a failure for not increasing its share of daily transportation trips.

It’s a bogus notion, since the major thrust of infrastructure development in the latter half of the 20th Century was to support expanded use of the private automobile.  Hundreds of billions (trillions?) were spent toward that end, and what it gave America was infamous urban sprawl.

Not to be missed is Mr. Slater’s inclusion of “bus/rapid transit” among his list of failed public transportation initiatives. But that was before an anti-rail mayoral candidate began promoting BRT as a “solution” to traffic congestion, so it’s convenient for him to support BRT now even though he’s on record as calling BRT a failure.

Understandable Blankness
It’s not surprising after all that the candidate’s “Real Solutions” page has nothing on it, because a lot of nothing backs up Mr. Slater’s credentials to be Mr. Cayetano’s brain trust on transportation. looked into those credentials and came up with nothing beyond self promotion:

“There is no question that Cliff Slater is a successful businessman, and although not formally educated, an extremely intelligent person.  However, there is also ample evidence that he has no special expertise in traffic or transportation other that that which he has bestowed upon himself and that he has seriously misrepresented himself.”

Honesty and truthfulness are the overlooked key issues in the rail debate. You can find them in abundance at the rail project's website. The contrast with the “Real Solutions” page couldn’t be greater.


Anonymous said...

Slater is nothing but right-wing huckster with no regard for the truth, yet he's quoted in virtually every news story about rail.

Go figure.

Roy Kamisato said...

Cliff Slater's real mission statement..............
“Our mission: Offering cost effective ways to reduce traffic congestion on Oahu. The problem with the solutions offered by me is that they are all based on building more freeways which increases the use of the automobile instead of building public transportation. This is wishful thinking on my part. Libertarians, Oil Billionaires, Automobile Manufacturers, Freeway Contractors and the Gang of Four cannot point to any city that has ‘invested’ in freeways which didn't eventually get clogged with cars even though billions of dollar (sic) have been spent trying. This is the voyage of the gang of four. Our five year mission: to explore 1950's technology, to seek out strange new slogans without doing anything new, and to boldly go where man has gone before.

Anonymous said...

I figure that Slater is (for now) backing BRT because it is to him the lesser of the public transit evils and if it fails to cut down on traffic he can later say, "I told you so!" But Honolulu will have no traffic solution then. Perhaps his English background will leave him to divide people into haves and have-nots, like those would use his HOT lanes scheme haves (those who can afford the toll) and have-nots (those who can't afford the toll).