Sunday, February 27, 2011

Imagining Manoa Road as a One-Lane Path

The headline in the morning paper has a why-did-the-chicken-cross-the-road quality to it. Surely we know by now why Honolulu needs an alternative to driving through the urban core.

Those questions were/are answered in numerous documents, including the final environmental impact statement. Aren’t they being read?

Cutting some slack for the three dozen people who attended a town hall meeting in the valley community of Manoa, maybe they don’t or can’t appreciate they why’s and wherefore's of the planned rail system.

They have a much less complicated drive from their homes down past the University of Hawaii to Honolulu’s business and commercial neighborhoods. The vast majority of Manoa residents never confront the H-1 freeway congestion captured in the photos to the right.

Maybe This Will Help

Manoa residents sometimes do complain about access for their valley, which is walled in on its sides by ridges and at the back by the Koolau Mountain Range. The only routes in and out are Manoa Road and University Avenue, and they bottleneck traffic twice a day.

What if it were worse than that? What if Manoa Road were nothing more than a one-lane unimproved path? What if University Avenue were a gravel road even narrower than it is today? What would those conditions do to residents' travel times?

“Preposterous!” they’d likely say. “The City would never allow conditions to deteriorate to such a condition.”

And that’s exactly what West Oahu residents have been saying year after year about the ever-growing traffic problem they confront twice daily. The H-1 is jammed for miles, and surface streets aren’t an alternative.

As the FEIS, the Alternatives Analysis and countless media stories have documented, that's why Honolulu needs a rail system – to provide congestion-free travel through the city for generations to come.

That’s the issue, Manoa residents. Imagining what your daily trips would be like through an even more constricted Lower Manoa neighborhood might help you appreciate the greater community's need for rail.


Today’s newspaper story ends with a paraphrase of something the meeting’s host allegedly said:

The Federal Transit Authority must approve the city’s financial plans. If it fails to do so, a fixed guideway idea could be the alternative solution, Kobayashi said. But otherwise the city must stick with a steel wheels on steel rail system.

For the record, Honolulu rail will be a fixed guideway system. You can look it up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oahu Growth Keeping Pace with Rail Projections

Table Source: U.S. Census via Civil Beat
The U.S. Census has released data on Hawaii’s 2010 population and that of its counties, and some rough back-of-the-envelope calculations show Oahu is growing about as fast as the Honolulu rail project said it would.

For years now the project has projected Oahu’s population to grow by 200,000 between 2005 and 2030. It grew 77,051 in the past decade, so we’re dividing that number in half to achieve an approximate population for 2005 – 914,682.

Let’s use an 8-percent rate of growth for the next two decades, slightly lower than the 8.8-percent growth Oahu experienced from 2000 to 2010. Based on the 2010 number, the 2030 population would be approximately 1,111,820.

That total is 197,138 more than our estimate of the 2005 population, exceptionally close to the rail project’s projection for Oahu’s growth of 200,000 during that 25-year span.

Yesterday’s Post – Continued

We asserted yesterday that anti-railers are the true obfuscators when it comes to talking about the Honolulu rail project. Let’s continue that theme today.

With new U.S. Census figures out, we wanted to look up what Cliff Slater’s anti-rail, pro-car website has said about anticipated Oahu population growth. It’s our recollection that Mr. Slater has questioned the project’s population projections for Oahu and thereby the need for rail.

What we found instead is something typical of Mr. Slater’s anti-rail site, and this time his partner in a deliberately misleading assertion is equally pro-car Panos Prevedouros. Here’s a quote from a 2006 press release from Dr. Prevedouros as posted on Mr. Slater’s website:

“The City’s site also says that over 60% of Oahu’s population lives within the proposed rail corridor. Perhaps 60% do live to the left and the right of a single rail line, in valleys and ridges. On the average, these residents have to walk about two miles on heels, dress shoes or flip-flops in order to 'improve their ability to move.' In reality, much less than 5% of Oahu’s population is within one half mile of rail stations and can somewhat conveniently use the rail line.”

Notice how quickly Dr. Prevedouros slides from agreeing with the City’s estimate to his preposterous assertion – that “these residents have to walk about two miles on heels, dress shoes or flip-flops….” to a rail station. The release goes on: “Will the average Honolulu commuter walk two miles to the station, and then do the same after work?”

This is typical of anti-railers, who thrive on creating a straw man and then attacking it. The City has never ever suggested it expects the public to walk two miles to the stations. Maybe some will (it couldn't hurt), but others will be dropped off, take a bus, ride a bike, skateboard or drive to parking lots adjacent to some stations.

TheBus could become the preferred method to travel to and from rail stations, but depending on development patterns, as many or more users might ultimately walk. They do it all over the planet!

Misleading the public on Honolulu rail is a key tool in the anti-railer kit, and we’ll undoubtedly see the results of its use in the months and years ahead.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Clarity on Who Has Misled Public on Rail Project

The City Council yesterday confirmed Wayne Yoshioka’s appointment as Director of the Department of Transportation Services and did so over the objections of Cliff Slater, the long-time rail project opponent.

As reported in today’s Star-Advertiser, Mr. Slater was ruled out of order by Council Chair Nestor Garcia when he “approached the microphone and said, ‘I’ve been slandered here. I should be able to respond to slander.’”

Mr. Slater was upset by Mr. Yoshioka’s earlier suggestion that Mr. Slater has misrepresented the rail project over the years. We focused on some of Mr. Slater’s deliberate obfuscation of rail-related issues last summer.

What Slander?

On July 12, 2010, Civil Beat posted a video interview with Mr. Slater at the online news service’s website. Here’s how the interview begins:

Slater: "In talking to groups about rail, I tell them that there’s really two things you need to know about it. Number one, it’s gonna cost five and one-half billion dollars before cost overruns, and the second thing is that traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today. And then I ask them if they have any questions, and that kinda sums up the whole argument.”

Just two days after that interview was posted, Mr. Slater testified at a City Council hearing and said:

“We don’t disagree at all that rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all….”

Mr. Slater is quoted on July 12 that traffic will be worse with rail than it is today, and two days later he's boxed in at the hearing and admits rail’s effect will be to improve congestion over what it would grow to without rail.

Mr. Slater never tells his audience that rail will be a traffic-free alternative to highway commuting. What he does say justifies the characterization of his performance as "misleading" during his two-decade campaign against Honolulu’s rail projects.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Ground was broken for the Honolulu rail project in the traditional Hawaiian way -- with o`o sticks. From left: State Senate President Shan Tsutsui; House Speaker Calvin Say; Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz; US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa; US Senator Daniel Akaka; US Senator Daniel Inouye; Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle; City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia; Director of Transportation Services Wayne Yoshioka; General Manager, Honolulu Rail Project Toru Hamayasu, and former Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
US senators said it. Mayors past and present said it. State and City dignitaries and old friends in the crowd said it repeatedly to one another. Everybody at today’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Honolulu rail project expressed pretty much the same thought:

“What a day this is, and what a long time it’s been in coming!”

Across the street, a dozen or so protestors looked on as upwards of 500 enthusiastic rail supporters filled a tent to overflowing next to Kualakai Parkway in East Kapolei for this morning’s ceremony.

It was a groundbreaking like no other rail project has ever seen in these United States – not unless they also had the Royal Hawaiian Band playing, hula dancers dancing, conch shells blowing and o`o sticks turning the dirt.

The media were out in force, and we’ll leave the telling of the day’s events to the print and broadcast outlets. For us, these pictures say it best.
The big tent shaded hundreds of attendees.
A dozen or so protestors attracted their share of attention.
A panorama view squeezes everybody into the shot.
Mayor Carlisle presided over the much-anticipated event.
Project General Manager Hamayasu received an enthusiastic cheer from the Rail Transit Division.
Kahu Kaleo Patterson distributed the o`o sticks to the dignitaries.
Director Yoshioka accepts with a smile.
Former Mayor Hannemann relaunched the rail project.
Kahu Patterson blessed the land.
Amar Sappal (seated), who managed a rail project during the Frank Fasi Administration 20 years ago, shared a moment with Joe Magaldi, a City colleague from those days.
Joyce Fasi was a front-row attendee and a reminder of her husband's strenuous and multiple efforts to build Honolulu rail.
Mayor Carlisle fielded questions during the inevitable post-ceremony interview opportunity about what comes next for Honolulu rail.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Honolulu Rail Prepares for its Groundbreaking as Opponents Continue Efforts To Block the Project

A perspective gained from nearly 38 years of residency doesn’t make us a kama`aina even by our own definition of the Hawaiian word – someone who was born here or grew up in the islands influenced and shaped by Hawaii’s unique culture and values.

But the years have afforded an opportunity to observe the effort to build something bigger and more important than simply an alternative to highway travel.

Community visionaries and planners have been involved in a multi-generational process to make living on Oahu a better experience.

Even the greenest malahini, or newcomer, absorbs something fundamental about Oahu after just a few days on the island: You can’t find your way around without acknowledging the geography.

East, west, north and south mean virtually nothing here. Directions are given in relation to landmarks. You’re told to go mauka, toward the mountains, or makai, toward the sea.

Along Oahu’s southern shore, you go ewa as you head toward the district at the western end of the island, and if you go east, depending where you are you’re facing the extinct craters of Diamond Head near Waikiki or Koko Head at Oahu’s southeastern tip. Their names become the directions.

Geography’s Unyielding Limits

There’s no getting around the geography, which not only helps with directions but determines where communities can be built to accommodate Oahu’s ever-increasing population.

Most mainlanders can probably find “wide open spaces” not too far from where they live. The same isn’t true on Oahu; some neighborhoods along the southern shore are nestled between a ridge and the ocean that’s only a quarter mile or less away.

Urban Honolulu is just that – urban, which comes as a shock to visitors who aren’t prepared for the high-rise city Honolulu has become. Most of its neighborhoods have a crowded feel to them, even as they penetrate into the valleys and push up steep ridgelines.

The closest thing to open space is the ewa plain, and for decades it’s been designated in the City and County’s General Plan as Oahu’s “Second City.” New communities have been built there to accommodate population growth, and thousands of families now live in homes where sugar cane once grew.

Mobility’s Loss

There’s only one island in the chain that’s growing – the Big Island of Hawaii, which adds a few acres now and then when a sustained lava flow reaches the sea from the world’s longest volcanic eruption.

What does grow on Oahu is the frustration of residents whose commuting options between home and downtown Honolulu (the economic heart of Hawaii) are limited to that relatively narrow strip of land between the mountains and the sea.

Highway studies have documented that some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion is found in that corridor. It’s been bad for decades and can only become worse on an island that has no room to build more highways.

The City and County of Honolulu has attempted several times to create a commuting alternative to street and highway travel between the ewa plain and downtown, only to be thwarted for one reason or another. Civil Beat, the online news service, has a summary of those efforts today.

Grade-separated transit is the only practical option to restore mobility to Oahu’s residents along the southern corridor. When dirt is turned at tomorrow’s groundbreaking, the decades-long effort to create that option will have attained its furthest advance.

Some of the same people who successfully blocked efforts to build elevated rail in decades past will be at tomorrow’s ceremonial groundbreaking. Their picketing will attract media attention, and their interviews will have reasons why the project shouldn't be built.

Among the consumers of that media and the interviews will be kama`aina whose quality of life has been eroded by traffic congestion over the decades.

Many of them will observe the groundbreaking through a cultural “lens” that’s become a part of their being. They’ll know on this milestone day whether rail will benefit this generation and generations far into the future.

We’re confident the great majority of kama`aina and malahini alike will accept and come to see rail as the best way to travel ewa - diamond head in either direction.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Honolulu Among 100 Best Cities for Next-Gen

There we are – way out in the lower-left corner of the above map, a pin dropped in the Pacific to mark Honolulu’s inclusion among the “100 Best Communities for Young People.”

The news is a little off-topic in a blog devoted to Honolulu rail, but it does indeed have a nice tie-in with the project. We’ve noted the pro-rail support of Honolulu’s next generation of residents for a more energy-efficient and cleaner form of transportation that will avoid all surface congestion – Honolulu’s elevated rail system.

The entire project, along with its accompanying transit-oriented development component, will serve the interests of Oahu’s next generation of families by saving them untold amounts of time and money in their personal lives.

So maybe it’s not too much of a stretch after all to write about Honolulu’s recent designation by the America’s Promise Alliance. Better living is also a promise for everyone who chooses to ride Honolulu rail.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

City To Submit New Rail Plan. That’s News?

It’s been about 18 hours since the only daily newspaper in Honolulu headlined a story online saying the City will submit a new financial plan to the Federal Transit Administration for Honolulu rail.

Why our delay in posting about it? Simply because it’s not exactly earthshaking news that a new financial plan will be part of the process of obtaining federal funding for the project.

Anti-railers for about 18 months have glommed onto the FTA's response to a 2009 Honolulu rail financial plan because it expressed some concern about the City’s ability to provide the local share of rail's financing.

One of them recently posted: “Honolulu must provide a stronger financial plan in order to keep going in the New Starts process.” And that’s exactly what the City is going to do.

Here’s what the FTA has to say about the 2009 plan:

“Sometimes you need to be mindful of this,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff yesterday. “These financial projects are just that, projections. They change as interest rates change…as local revenue estimates change. The most updated plan is always the most important one.”

In other words, the anti-railers’ concerns about the 2009 plan are irrelevant. The old financial plan “matters less than the new financial plan” in Rogoff’s words, as reported in the Star-Advertiser.

One step follows another. The New Starts funding process is well known and certainly understood by City planners.

Anti-railers will have to glom onto something else to keep their hopes alive.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

$250 Million Budgeted for Honolulu Rail Project

President Obama’s FY 2012 budget includes more than $1 billion for pending transit projects, including $250 million for Honolulu’s 20-mile elevated system between Kapolei and Ala Moana Center.

Inclusion of the project in the budget is more affirmation of the Administration’s support for the project. U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood said in February last year that Honolulu rail and other projects “are critical investments that will boost economic vitality….”

Honolulu is in line for a Full Funding Grant Agreement totaling $1.55 billion. The quarter-million in the new budget is part of the total.

Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI), who knows his way around Capitol Hill as a member of Congress since 1959 and is in his eighth senatorial term, is a key Washington ally in retaining the item in the budget.

“It is encouraging that President Obama, a born-and-raised Honolulu man all too familiar with Oahu’s traffic woes, is dedicated to helping create jobs and lessen Hawaii’s dependence on imported oil by providing an affordable alternative to driving,” he said.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is There a More Precious Gift than Time?

Valentine’s Day brings a spike in flower, jewelry and candy sales, and unless reservations were made far in advance, forget about dining out tonight.

But of all the precious gifts we could give our loved ones, what they’d likely want most from us is something we’ve been given free – our time.

We noted a week ago that a recent traffic study surely under-estimates how much time is lost to commuters on the H-1 freeway and other roads and highways between the ewa region and downtown.

By our reckoning, the H-1 car commuter could spend five times as many wasted hours sitting and creeping in traffic congestion than the average driver. Averages are one thing; actual experience is another.

Contrast those wasted hours with commuting by Honolulu rail along roughly the same route that car commuters now travel 10 times a week. Instead of wasted time staring at the car in front them, rail commuters will be able to read, write or simply relax at the beginning and end of the work day.

And those hours that might have been wasted behind the wheel on the highway? They’ll be a gift that keeps on giving – as long as we pass them along to our families.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

‘Now Arriving on Track 2 – the 2:22’

Blame Friday’s post on the euphoria one feels upon arriving on Molokai for the weekend. Roads here are so traffic-free you know how long your trip will take when you jump in the car.

That point needs making to justify Friday’s “choo choo” song contributed by a reader who sang it back in his prep school days. The song’s love-struck suitor knows exactly when his gal will arrive – on the 2:22 train.

That’s how Honolulu rail will operate, too – by timetable. Arrival and departure times will be precisely known on the highly reliable system, which will be elevated above surface traffic that can destroy at-grade transit’s reliability.

Trips from one end of the system to the other will take 42 minutes. A train departing East Kapolei at 1:40 p.m. will arrive at Ala Moana precisely at 2:22 – no matter the weather and surface congestion.

Trains will arrive at each of the 21 stations according to a station-specific timetable. We hope 2:22 will be sprinkled through a lot of them – for old time’s sake.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Rail Groundbreaking Set for 'Choo Choo Choo'

If you say it fast, it does kinda sound like the date selected for Honolulu rail's ceremonial groundbreaking – 2/22.* Advocates welcome the event as the start of a construction process that will add thousands of jobs in the near term and enhance travel mobility for Oahu residents for decades to come.

“It’s time to celebrate,” said Mayor Peter Carlisle. “Many people have waited so long and worked hard to finally get to this point. This project will provide thousands of jobs for our local work force, relieve traffic congestion, and pave the way for an exciting and better future for Oahu residents.”

The public event will begin at 10 a.m. along Kualakai Parkway, formerly known as North-South Road, according to a City press release.

It’s been a long time coming, and now it’s just a couple weekends away. Have a good one.

* Just to show we're not alone in making the 2 2 choo choo connection, here's what we just received by email from a long-time rail booster. He says, "There was a song I used to sing in several a capella groups back in prep school" and university:
My cutie's due on the 2:22,
She'll be comin' through on the big choo-choo.
She's been away for months,
And I haven't cheated once.
Stayed home nights, didn't dance,
Wasn't takin' any chance,
Didn't flirt, though it hurt,
I just couldn't do my little cutie dirt.
Now the days are long and the nights are black,
But I just know that she'll be back,
Cause I love her and she love me, and saaay ...
Don't say there ain't no Santa Claus,
I know damn well there is because ...
My cutie's due on the 2:22 to-daaaaay!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Never Happens when Trains Are Elevated

Pedestrian jogs across tracks, oblivious to approaching train.
We’ve repeatedly banged away at the fact that Honolulu’s elevated train will be 30 above the nearest pedestrian crosswalk – unlike Phoenix, AZ, which built its rail system at ground level.

These photos taken from a train in November are chilling enough to make you stop, look and listen if you’re ever near railroad tracks. You can watch the video if you dare.

Fortunately, the pedestrian wasn’t killed, but he was seriously injured. The photo at right shows him less than a second before impact.

Maybe this incident will change the minds of some in our Honolulu community who believe our system should be built at-grade. Imagine if you will trains running on Hotel Street through Chinatown and Downtown Honolulu and the extent of the hazard they're present to pedestrians every few minutes.

OK. Time to change the subject.
The pedestrians rolls with the impact, ends up wedged between train and tracks.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Another Reminder that Honolulu’s Traffic Is Bad, But for Many, It’s Worse than Institute Study Says

Reports come and go on how Honolulu traffic stacks up against other cities, and although their results vary somewhat, the essential finding is consistent: We got it bad.

The latest output from the Texas Transportation Institute is its Annual Urban Mobility Report, which the Star-Advertiser notes ranks Honolulu as the fourth-worst among “medium average” areas for commuting to work.

You can go over the data specific to Honolulu and find whatever pops out at you. For us, it’s especially noteworthy that the amount of peak Vehicle Miles Traveled designated as “congested travel” has gone from 28 percent in 1982 to 56 percent in 2009 – a tidy doubling in that category.

But the statistic the newspaper highlighted -- “the average Honolulu commuter wasted 31 extra hours” – strikes us as a huge underplay of the traffic problem that Honolulu rail is intended to address.

Let's Get Real

Oahu’s major thoroughfare along the southern urban corridor is the H-1 freeway. If Honolulu rail is going to be an alternative travel mode to anything, it’s to commuting by car on the H-1. A total of 31 wasted hours doesn’t come close to what H-1 users lose each year.

Do the math: Let’s say a commuter using the H-1 from home to work and back has three weeks of vacation and takes off another 10 days during the year for holidays and whatnot. That’s about 235 commuting days and 470 one-way commuting trips annually.

This commuter isn’t “average” in any sense; he/she is an actual traffic-plagued driver. Our guess is that if you asked anyone who drives the H-1 during peak travel time how much of each trip is spent creeping along the freeway, you’d hear 20 to 30 minutes – at least.

Let’s pick the lower number – 20 minutes times 470 one-way trips. It comes out to more than 156 hours of extra travel time for the typical H-1 commuter during peak travel hours -- five times the study's average for Honolulu commuters!

THAT’s what is significant about our traffic problem and what Honolulu rail is meant to address – the actual experience of tens of thousands of car commuters who must drive on the H-1 and parallel surface streets and highways with no current alternative!

Averages are one thing; specifics are another. Honolulu rail will be an alternative to sitting in traffic, a huge time and travel improvement over the real-world experience of actual Honolulu commuters.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rail Work Seen as Major Economy Boost in 2011

The University of Hawaii’s forecast for construction spending in Hawaii this year includes anticipated spending on Honolulu rail, the first time the project has been included in forecasts by the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (UHERO).

The forecast is for a 3.6-percent increase in construction spending statewide, with statewide industry employment growing 3.7 percent, according to UHERO’s report:

“According to city estimates, the rail project will invvolve the expenditure of about $3.7 billion in local construction, with another roughly $1 billion in professional services. By our estimate, this will raise construction jobs in Hawaii by 5,000-5,5—at the peak in 2013-2014, sufficient to reduce the statewide unemployment rate by more than one-half percentage point.”

As Yes2Rail has insisted repeatedly, Honolulu rail is not a “jobs project.” It’s a transportation project that will restore mobility – the ability to move at will through the urban corridor by elevated rail without regard to surface traffic congestion.

But jobs certainly will be created, and that has to be good, as UHERO notes: “The timing of rail construction is advantageous given the relatively slow pace of recovery expected for residential and non-residential sectors.”

UHERO adds this note of caution, however:

“If rail holds the best near-term prospects for Oahu construction, it also presents a substantial risk. It is impossible at this point to know whether rail work will ramp up quickly, as envisioned in official estimates, or whether legal challenges or other factors will delay progress. Other risks to the current construction outlook include rising energy costs – which would both raise production costs and undercut overall economic growth – and high interest rates that could emerge if inflationary fears begin to build.”

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser has a summary of UHERO’s report.

To that we’d add, there’s no time like the present to begin building this critical piece of Honolulu’s infrastructure, which will serve future generations of Oahu residents throughout the 21st century with enhanced mobility, travel reliability and transportation equity.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

‘Anticipated’ Lawsuits Filed against Rail Project

Shadows on Groundhog Day can mean six more weeks of Winter in Pennsylvania. Here in Hawaii, it wouldn’t be right for us to ignore the lawsuits that are casting a shadow of sorts in the direction of -- but not over -- Honolulu rail.

Both the Star-Advertiser and Civil Beat carry stories on the lawsuits, of which a City transit official said: “These things happen in all EIS-related projects. I don’t know if ‘anticipated’ is the right word, but we’re not surprised.”

That sounds about right, so that’s where we’ll leave it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

‘We’re 100% Satisfied We’ve Followed All Laws’

That’s Mayor Peter Carlisle’s response to the latest action by the anti-rail faction in this community. Former Governor Ben Cayetano was out in front of the familiar rail opponents yesterday, fronting them in a press conference to protest the project’s progress.

And the project indeed is progressing. The FEIS was completed nearly a year ago after great scrutiny and was accepted in December by current Governor Neal Abercrombie.

All parties to the Programmatic Agreement signed the document that addresses historic preservation, and that joint agreement triggered issuance of the FTA’s Record of Decision for Honolulu rail.

Yes2Rail noted Mr. Cayetano’s opposition to rail in July 2008 but suggested then that his politics-based objections failed to outweigh the need to create an option to worsening traffic congestion.

Mayor Carlisle alluded to Mr. Cayetano’s long-standing opposition:

"He has been opposed to rail and has always been opposed to rail. Doesn't like where it starts, doesn't like how it's been thought through and he is a bus guy, start and finish. None of the statements that Gov. Cayetano made are things that we haven't heard in the past already....

“He’s advocating for his position, and I will advocate for mine….  We are absolutely 100-percent satisfied that we have followed all the laws that have been necessary to be abided with….  I’m satisfied that we are in the current situation moving forward prudently and appropriately.”

Clearly, the anti-rail groups don’t like rail’s progress, so they’re now attempting to disrupt the process, including filing lawsuits and aggregating their individual objections in a new effort backed by the former governor, orchestrated by an anti-rail activist and promoted by a local talk-show radio host who's nothing if not anti-rail.

Always About Mobility

This activist was defeated in his bid for a City Council seat in November’s election. He called the radio station this morning to announce the group’s intentions, including a press conference in two weeks that will object to the project’s route.

The call prompted the host to misstate rail’s purpose; here's a paraphrase:

They moved the discussion on rail from the original purpose, improving mobility and alleviating congestion, to an economic project. No longer was it about mobility, it became about jobs and how we can’t turn down the federal dollars. That was the City’s propagandistic effort – shifting the debate away from transportation to jobs.

That’s simply not true. The City’s message on Honolulu rail has always been and always will be about improving mobility. As a major project goal, enhancing mobility is first among equals, and we launched this blog on June 30, 2008 with a post to that effect.

We returned to those goals last month in several posts beginning with “Rail’s All-Important goal – Improving Mobility” on January 4. Rail will create jobs and City officials have said so, but the radio host’s instance that jobs is the primary reason to build rail is a flat-out misstatement of this project and more of his own propagandistic efforts.

Thanks to the activist’s call to the station, the new anti-rail campaign’s plans are now known and can be anticipated, which isn’t a bad thing. Soon after that call ended, the radio host shifted the focus of his program from rail to the subject of high vehicle registration fees.

How ironic is that!?