Tuesday, July 31, 2012

More from the Letters Page: Rail Will Indeed Reduce Road Congestion, but What about the Enthusiasm for At-Grade Light Rail? Don’t They Know It Kills People?

 Portland's MAX at-grade system records another death.
Tired of all those campaign ads on TV and radio? Looking for messages that aren’t approved by a candidate? For a change of pace, stop by at the Letters to the Editor page of Honolulu’s only daily newspaper.

Yes2Rail has done that numerous times over the months and does it again today to make a point: What you read there may have some value, but like so many of those campaign spots, they may leave out important facts. Here’s an example from today’s paper (subscription).

But first, a Yes2Rail Disclaimer: The following letter is quoted for educational purposes only and appears exactly as printed in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Its inclusion in this post does not imply support or criticism by Yes2Rail of any candidates in the Honolulu Mayoral race. As for Richard Borreca's column today, we'll get to it tomorrow to see if our January prediction is still holding true that he'd write not one paragraph of positive comment about rail in 2012. Spoiler Alert: Don't hold your breath.

Cayetano is not against all rail (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7/31)
In the rush to give the nod for the mayor’s race to Kirk Caldwell (“Top city post should go to Caldwell,” Star-Advertiser, Our View, July 29), the Star-Advertiser conveniently overlooks what former Gov. Ben Cayetano has stated many times.

Last week, the Star-Advertiser quoted Cayetano as saying, “I’m open to light rail” (Ben Cayetano: Former Governor finds many agree with his position on rail,” Star-Advertiser, July 25).

He advocates building a much less expensive light-rail system that is at ground level, similar to the MAX system in Portland, Oregon. Actually, It’s Kirk Caldwell whose rail plans are murky. He says he wants to change the design and some routes but has given no details on either. It is important to make sure that candidates are carefully vetted on what they say they will do, not on what we want them to say.

The Kailua resident who authored the letter makes a good point: Candidates’ preferences for addressing Oahu’s growing traffic congestion issues need careful scrutiny and vetting. As an educational tool about Honolulu’s planned elevated rail system, Yes2Rail has traditionally compared the current plan with the alternatives proposed by others in the community.

For example, Cliff Slater and Panos Prevedouros have advocated for High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) roads, and our commentaries have positioned elevated rail as superior to those roads. The above letter implicitly supports construction of a light-rail system – something akin to what Portland has built. Let’s take a look.

Death on the Rails
Light-rail transit kills people. It happens everywhere trains are built at ground level in the mix of trains, vehicles and pedestrians.

Sacramento, CA, our new home since last month, recorded a three-fatality tragedy early this year, and SaltLake City has recorded several fatalities. But since Portland’s MAX system was suggested in today’s letter as something Honolulu might well build instead of grade-separated rail, that city’s safety record is ripe for examination.

Portland has recorded at least two dozen deaths on the MAX system since 1986. The most recent fatality listed at the Summary of MAX Fatalities website – number 26 – was in January 2011, but another web source puts the number at 28 through June 2011. A Portland TV station carried a video report from which the graphic at the top of today's post was pulled.

Whatever the true number, the point is obvious: At-grade trains pose a lethal threat to pedestrians and vehicular passengers, and one can imagine the threat as exceptionally significant considering Honolulu's aging population. “But all travel has risks,” light-rail defenders may say. Honolulu rail supporters can counter with this accurate statement:

By being elevated above street level, the possibility of pedestrian-train interaction will be completely eliminated. There will be no crosswalks, no intersections and no possibility of vehicle and pedestrian accidents as shown in the numerous photographs in our right-hand column.

Those are the facts about light-rail’s safety compared to Honolulu’s future elevated line – an issue you haven’t read about in recent months in Honolulu’s only daily newspaper.

Another Letter
Let’s end on a lighter note today by quoting from a second rail-related letter in today’s Star-Advertiser:

Rail satisfies many needed social goals (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7/31)
We would like to make some key points that we think are overlooked in the discussion about rail. First, it is flat wrong to claim that rail won’t reduce traffic congestion. Congestion might not be reduced across the island overall, but rail is going to reduce the increase in congestion. (Yes2Rail comment: This is the same point made here last week.)
Second, Oahu citizens have long gone along with developing the “second city.” Now that it is heavily populated, its residents deserve a proper transportation infrastructure. Rush-hour traffic to and from the west side is horrendous and by far the worst on the island.
Third, rail will benefit those who cannot afford cars. It will provide a much quicker transit, for example, for those who provide all the tourist services in Waikiki that generate tax revenue benefiting us all. Our political culture has rested on bedrock principles of fairness and looking out for the little guy; are we now abandoning those principles?

Transportation equity, one of rail’s four main goals, was Yes2Rail’s subject as recently as July 27. We’re pleased the two Kaneohe residents who wrote this letter appreciate equity as a bedrock principle of the Honolulu rail project.

There you have it – two letters that could be launching pads for further exploration for anybody who cares to know the facts about Honolulu’s future fast, frequent, reliable and safe elevated rail system.

Monday, July 30, 2012

What Are They Thinking? Another Media Poll on Rail Ignores Citizens Who Say They Aren’t Likely To Vote – i.e., the Ones More Likely To Depend on Transit

Shake your head, throw down the newspaper in disgust, stomp off to write a letter to the editor. They’re all understandable responses among supporters of the Honolulu rail project to the latest journalistic fumbling of the rail issue.

JULY 31 UPDATE: Eagle-eyed readers found a major error in the first paragraph of the Star-Advertiser's story on its new rail poll.  See their Comments below this Yes2Rail post.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now have completed their latest joint misadventure into the world of political polling. Call it Alice in Wonderland journalism if you like, but whatever you call it, the poll and some of the reporting associated with it show what can happen when well-intentioned people blindly fall into the rabbit hole.

Within a story that reported the results (subscription) showing minority support for rail, here’s the key sentence in today’s story: “The rail question was asked of 509 very likely Oahu voters in the upcoming primary.” 

Consider first that “very likely Oahu voters” are obviously not representative of the whole population – not in a state where the turnout of registered voters in 2008 ranked dead last in the country when only 51.8 percent of all adult citizens voted. And that was with a native son on the presidential ballot!

Then ask yourself who the non-voters are and how they differ from the “very likely Oahu voters.” It shouldn’t take you more than a couple minutes of web searching to conclude that non-voters are indeed much different than those who exercise their right to vote.

National polling organizations need to understand who votes and who doesn’t, because to ignore the differences is to court national embarrassment – or worse. Here’s what the Pew Research Center found in 2006 about Voting and Demographic Factors:

“Not only do the rich seem to get richer, on Election Day…they will probably get a disproportionately large say about who gets elected to Congress. So will older people, whites, college graduates and those who frequently go to church, the survey finds. Among those likely to once again stand on the sidelines…: relatively large numbers of young people, Hispanics, and those with less education and lower incomes….”

Who doesn’t vote regularly? The less money you make, the less likely it is that you vote. The Pew people found differences in the education levels attained, income, marriage status and church attendance and broke them out in the chart at right.

Interesting enough to continue reading? We hope so, because selecting out the “very unlikely Oahu voters” on a question about rail is more than suspect. One could conclude doing so is an irresponsible approach to understanding the level of rail’s support throughout the entire population and what rail will mean to everybody.

An Obligation To Serve
Why does that matter? Because government-funded infrastructure serves all citizens, not just voters or likely voters. Since that’s inarguably the case, why does it make sense for this and other polls, including one conducted for Civil Beat, to exclude non-voters from their surveys?

It makes sense only if you’re interested in finding out which candidate is likely to win an election. Clearly, that’s the big question on Oahu this summer in a primary election that pits two pro-rail candidates against one who vows to kill the project.

But surveying only likely voters is counterproductive in understanding what the entire population thinks about rail, including the segment that’s more likely to be dependent on public transit – the segment that is less educated and makes less money than voters.

How the Star-Advertiser and HNN miss this critical distinction is beyond comprehension, but they have, and if you’ve been paying close attention to the media coverage on rail, you probably know that the media have not helped the public understand rail well during the past several months.

Bizarre Reporting
Reporters who should have been asking the anti-rail candidate for details about his alleged substitute transportation plan to replace rail didn’t do that. Maybe they’re afraid to ask the tough-talking former governor tough questions, but they passed up countless opportunities to do so. It was left to an editorial writer to finally ask “What exactly is Cayetano’s transit plan?” more than four months after his official announcement.

But the media strangeness continues to this very day in this morning’s poll story. Consider this:

(Anti-rail Cliff) Slater said he believes support for rail erodes as people realize that traffic congestion will increase even after the city spends billions of dollars on it. He faulted Honolulu’s major media outlets for failing to make clear to the public that Oahu’s roads inevitably will become more congested as the city grows (emphasis added).”

We added the emphasis to highlight the bizarre nature of this quote. If anything, the media can be faulted for not deconstructing Mr. Slater's #1 talking point to make it absolutely clear that of course Oahu’s roads inevitably will become more congested as the city grows!

The city grows – ergo, more people will be driving more cars on the same highway infrastructure. That’s not hard to understand, yet the media rarely if ever have challenged the Cliff Slater quote machine about his on-its-face-true statement that he uses to criticize the rail project. He goes unquestioned about his intended outcome for more reliance on the private automobile and fewer choices for public transit.

Media Breakdown
Yes2Rail faults Honolulu’s major media outlets for failing to expose Mr. Slater’s attempt to blame rail for failing to reduce congestion as a cynical attempt to confuse the population with misleading anti-rail arguments. Rail’s purpose is not to reduce congestion, which is impossible given Oahu's space restrictions; its purpose is to give citizens a way to avoid congestion.

Mr. Slater’s influence on this and earlier rail projects is indisputable, and his major anti-rail argument has become a key talking point of the anti-rail mayoral candidate, who also incongruously complains congestion will be worse in the future with rail than it is today.

The city’s Wayne Yoshioka had it right when he responded to this non-shocker with, “No kidding….”

And no kidding, media coverage of rail this year has been less than exemplary. Oahu citizens are the unwitting victims of a breakdown in journalistic professionalism – the insistence that only voters’ opinions on rail should matter, the failure to probe for the rail-killing candidate’s transportation plan and the uncritical coverage of the man who is more responsible than anyone else for delaying the construction of transportation alternatives on Oahu.

Borrowing from President Lincoln’s famous phrase, how this serves the best interests of all the people on Oahu is hard to understand.

For more information on mainland polling companies' views of the non-voter issue, see an essay by the Gallup organization. Also noteworthy is the emphasis The Political Dictionary places on likely voters as being “more valuable for election-related purposes than all registered voters or all adults (emphasis added).” Your own Internet searches undoubtedly will prove fruitful in understanding the differences between voters and non-voters. Also, be sure to read the comments posted below.

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.

Today’s Editorial
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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Will Rail Opponents Take Any Notice of the Social Equity Issue? It’s Doubtful, Since a ‘What’s In It for Me’ Outlook Blinds Them to Others’ Transportation Problems

Is anybody still stuck on the fence over the Honolulu rail issue? It’s unlikely at this late date, but those without a firm opinion might well consider a commentary in Tuesday’s Star-Advertiser.

The newspaper headlined the piece The rail will provide equal access to social and economic opportunity. Its authors are Mario Ramil, retired Hawaii Supreme Court associate justice; Howard Garval, CEO of Child and Family Service; Sotero Jucutan, president of the Oahu Association of Filipino Catholic Clubs, and the Rev. Bob Nakata, executive committee member of Faith Action for Community Equity’s Oahu Chapter.

Here’s the opening paragraph for those without a subscription:

“In the ongoing debate over rail, there has been a lot of discussion about the cost of rail but very little discussion about how rail provides equal access to social and economic opportunity to everyone regardless of age, race, economic status or disability.”

A search of the Star-Advertiser archives shows that nearly all of the focus on equity has come from the FACE group itself. Yes2Rail tried to move the discussion toward the project’s four goals, including social equity, early in 2011 when the blog highlighted the goals as described in the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement.

It was an attempt to provide some contrast between the opponents’ objections about cost and traffic reduction and the project’s intended outcomes that would last for generations.

As the commentary’s authors note, there’s been little discussion of those goals, and if there has been any media coverage of them, we can’t recall when. It’s easier to write about Cliff Slater’s latest blast about rail delivering too little at too great a cost or his proposal to build a toll road instead of rail.

As Yes2Rail said on January 11, 2011, “Equity is a good filter to use when evaluating anti-railers’ alternatives to the rail project, such as High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) roads and elevated busways that lack stops or stations along the route…. HOT lanes fail the equity test by not serving those who don’t own cars, beyond that poit, HOT lanes serve only those who can afford to pay the toll! And elevated busways that bypass communities along the route also fail to equitably serve all potential users.”

Inequity for West Oahu Residents
The authors lift the definition of equity from the FEIS – “…the fair distribution of resources so that no group carries an unfair burden of the negative environmental, social, or economic impacts or receives an unfair share of benefits.”

With that as a yardstick, “an inequity exists for those who live in West Oahu,” they write and then list several examples. Among them is the burden of locating municipal facilities there because they’re unwanted elsewhere, including the landfill, and the region’s poor transportation infrastructure.

Continuing: “…the burden is even greater for the many lower-income and minority workers who live in West Oahu and commute to work in downtown Honolulu or Waikiki. They have among the longest travel distances and their commute is made even longer by severe traffic congestion, now the worst in the nation….

“Those who can’t afford to drive – or are too young, too old or physically unable to drive – depend on public transit. They have only one option and must suffer delays and undertain schedules because of those delays. They spend two to three hours – sometimes more – just going to and from work, school or medical appointments on any given day. Can we say that these groups of people have equal access to all places? No. They have been locked out of opportunity.”

Concern for Others
“I’ll never ride the train” is the first thing you hear from many rail opponents, but the commentary’s description of the inequities that burden west-siders might be persuasive for anyone who can think beyond their own circumstances.

The authors end their piece with the factors that stand up well against opponents’ accusation that “nobody will ride” rail:
• Approximately 70 percent of the island’s population lives along the rail route.
• 83 percent of Oahu’s jobs are located along the rail route.
• The rail route will connect three University of Hawaii system campuses.
• Rail will be faster and more predictable than buses and provides a more efficient and enjoyable transportation experience.
• Rail transit is a meaningful transportation alternative that saves both time and money.
• Higher density housing around transit stations may also open up lower-cost housing options for families.

If you know anyone who’s still a fence sitter on the rail project, send them this commentary or at least Yes2Rail’s summary of its main points. The blog’s January 3, 2011 post listed the project’s four goals; here’s the FEIS’s paragraph on equity:

Equity is about the fair distribution of resources so that no group carries an unfair burden of the negative environmental, social, or economic impacts or receives an unfair share of benefits. Many lower-income and minority workers who commute to work in the PUC (Primary Urban Center) Development Plan area live in the corridor outside of the urban core. Transit-dependent households concentrated in the Pearl City, Waipahu, and Makakilo areas (Figure 1-9) rely on transit availability, such as TheBus, for access to jobs in the PUC Development Plan area. Delay caused by traffic congestion accounts for nearly one-third of the scheduled time for routes between Ewa and Waikiki. Many lower-income workers also rely on transit because of its affordability. These transit-dependent and lower-income workers lack a transportation choice that avoids the delay and schedule uncertainty currently experienced by TheBus. In addition, Downtown median daily parking rates are the highest among U.S. cities, further limiting access to Downtown by lower-income workers. Improvements to transit availability and reliability would serve all transportation system users, including minority and moderate- and low-income populations (emphasis added).

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.

The Spot
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.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Finding Silliness in Today’s Anti-Rail Commentary: Walking, Waiting, Riding Trains – Oh, the Horror!

For a guy who claims to be an international traveler, Dennis Callan seems remarkably unwilling to do what people do in cities all over the world – walk!
Mr. Callan was the co-founder and co-chair of the Stop Rail Now group that failed to stop rail in the 2008 election; that’s him at right delivering an anti-rail petition to the City Clerk’s Office four years ago. He’s still fighting rail as a frequent contributor to anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater’s HonoluluTraffic.com website, and he’s been writing commentaries for any publication that will publish them for years. In its January 2009 edition, Hawaii Business carried his pessimistic views on transit-oriented development.
His commentary in today’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser (subscription required) also doubts the viability of Honolulu rail because of the city’s allegedly too-low population concentration near rail stations. The piece is a cleaned-up rehash of Mr. Callan’s letter to the Sierra Club after the group said it would openly endorse the Honolulu rail project.

We dealt with his low-density argument two weeks ago by quoting from the Flawed Urban Rail Arguments website – a handy source of information to refute rail opponents’ arguments. Population density isn’t a determining factor of a rail system’s ability to be effective, the site says. “Rather, it is traffic density – the amount of people traveling along a particular route – that’s important.”

Since all drive-time travel between the ewa plain and town is through the narrow east-west urban corridor, Honolulu’s traffic density is extraordinarily high, and that’s why the city was recently designated as having the worst traffic congestion in the nation.

The Silly Part
The most remarkable aspect of Mr. Callan’s piece today that deserves special attention isn’t the density issue, which is just more of the same material he’s been pushing for years.

The most remarkable content is his conclusion that waiting, walking and riding transit amounts to “a complicated journey” – too complicated for Oahu residents. Here’s the best part of his piece, supplemented by our comments after each of his trip segments:

Because of this current lack of residents near stations, the city is hoping that Leeward commuters will ride a bus and transfer to the train. But consider how many individual segments such a daily round-trip would involve:
• Walk from your home to the bus stop. Once rail is in place, reconfigured bus routes will enhance TheBus’s attraction as an efficient way to reach the nearest station.
• Wait for the bus. Regular bus riders will know the schedule and won’t wait long.
• Ride the bus to the train station. The ride will be short compared to fighting miles of stand-still traffic on the H-1 or other highways.
• Walk to the train. The bus stop will be at the station, just steps away.
• Wait for the train. During rush hour, trains will arrive every 3 minutes, and the headways could be shortened if demand becomes strong enough.
• Ride the train. Yes! Ride the train, avoid all surface congestion; read, work on a computer, sleep or just enjoy the scenery.
• Walk or bus from train to work. The final leg of a money- and time-saving commute.
Now do everything in reverse to get home: round-trip segments involving a lot of walking, waiting and transferring. How many people would be willing to make such a complicated journey?

Hundreds of millions of people make this kind of trip each day all over the world; frequent traveler Dennis Callan knows this to be true, yet he imagines it just can’t possibly work on Oahu.

He and his fellow stop-rail friends are positioning transit commuting on this island as too onerous for our population – too “complicated” for individuals to embrace even though Oahu commuters already pay some of the highest prices for gasoline in the country.

They already have the worst traffic congestion, and judging from my recent experiences in Sacramento, CA while buying groceries, subscribing to cable TV and Internet services and signing up for a new health care plan, they’re paying much more for all of that, too.

The Insulting Part
Mr. Callan essentially argues that Oahu residents are too lazy to adopt a new commuting pattern that will give them financial and life-style benefits. That’s bad enough, but then he concludes his commentary with the specious argument we’ve come to expect from the anti-rail crowd.

He blames rail for “leaving horribly increased traffic congestion on our roads for decades to come.” It’s Mr. Slater’s top anti-rail refrain – the suggestion that rail will be a failure because congestion will increase after it is built. As rail supporters readily acknowledge, of course congestion will increase along with the population's growth!

Mr. Callan’s final sentence mentions “real solutions or other pressing infrastructure needs” that he implies would somehow reduce traffic congestion for decades to come. It’s yet another insult to Oahu residents’ intelligence to suggest there’s a magic bullet out there just waiting to be implemented if only rail can be killed.

If you believe that, you may also believe walking is bad for you.

Here’s the bottom line: Only rail will give users a congestion-free trip through town while reducing traffic’s growth rate on our streets and highways. Mr. Callan and his friends won’t tell you that.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Desperation Sets In: Rail’s Chief Opponent Uses Bizarre Diversion To Confuse Public on the Project

Today’s Yes2Rail post was as good as written, but then I clicked on Cliff Slater’s website.
Mr. Slater, the man more responsible than anyone else for the absence of a traffic-free way to travel through Honolulu’s east-west corridor, has posted another irrelevant opinion that’s too good to pass up.

For years I’ve publicized the web-based writings of Mr. Slater and other rail opponents on the assumption that the more Oahu residents know about what the opponents think, the less credible they’ll appear. (Here's a link to a post we particularly liked about Panos Prevedouros.)

Today is no exception. Here’s what tops Mr. Slater’s site this morning:

“If every child, woman and man on earth gave $1…it would be just enough to build the Honolulu rail project if the cost overruns were within reason. The world’s population is currently 7.1 billion. That’s about what we think (emphasis added) it will cost with overruns.”

What Mr. Slater thinks about rail doesn't reflect rail's reality, since what he thinks is driven by a car-first, mass-transit-last philosophy that can’t possibly be in Oahu’s best long-term interests.

The $7 billion figure comes, of course, from anti-rail ex-governor Linda Lingle’s “study” on rail’s finances that she commissioned at a cost of 300,000 taxpayer dollars in the final months of her term. It was a delaying tactic that pushed the whole project back several months; Governor Neal Abercrombie officially approved and accepted rail’s Final Environmental Impact Statement 10 days after he took office.

Mr. Slater’s Overrun Theory also is dependent on other jurisdictions’ rail experiences, none of which are relevant to Honolulu.  Just because a project in Puerto Rico or Jacksonville or anywhere else had an overrun is no reason to automatically conclude it will happen here, but that's what Mr. Slater thinks.

Unraveling the Web
Cliff Slater's entire anti-rail campaign is a web of specious thought threads strung together to seem plausible to the casual listener who has 2 seconds to give it. It’s after 3 seconds that his rhetoric starts to unravel.

Take his #1 pitch: “Traffic congestion with rail in the future will be worse than it is today….. That kinda sums up the whole argument.”

Mr. Slater got an enthusiastic reaction from a room full of Rotarians last year when he used that “whole argument,” but in looking around the room, I saw others in the audience who were already into their third second of thought about that statement.

Three seconds should be enough to conclude that traffic congestion of course will increase in the future, with or without rail, because the population will continue to grow. 

The City’s Wayne Yoshioka took apart that argument before the City Council and even got Mr. Slater to admit that “…rail will have an effect on reducing traffic congestion from what it might be if we did nothing at all….” 

Yet the Two Second Types invariably fall for this thin anti-rail argument, just as they’re undoubtedly lapping up what Mr. Slater thinks about a cost overrun on Honolulu rail. Just remember that the project already has hundreds of millions of dollars budgeted for unanticipated contingency expenses during construction.

Say It Again
Repetition is a good marketing technique, of course, and that’s why Yes2Rail has written about Mr. Slater’s “whole argument” more times than we can count. And that’s why Mr. Slater is so insistent that “the rail project is now in its death throes.” That’s also at the top of his website this morning. It’s what he thinks, and he wants you to think it, too.

His string of “ifs” that he thinks threaten the project includes the outcome of the mayoral race, the outcome of the Gang of Four’s anti-rail federal lawsuit, the outcome of congressional legislation to fund transportation projects and so on.

ABC Cliff – Always By Car – Slater’s legacy is still intact as the man who killed rail two decades ago, but his place in Honolulu history as a spoiler will be reduced to a footnote once the current project overcomes all obstacles and is built.

It's personal with Mr. Slater. No wonder he’s looking desperate.

This post has been added to Yes2Rail's "aggregation site" under the Mr. Cliff Slater and Friends heading.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nattering Nabobs of Negativism Can Be Found Everywhere, and Rail Frequently Is Their Target

Today’s letter to the editor recalls Spiro Agnew – he of the colorful alliterations, one of which is in our headline.
Here’s the letter:
Timing all wrong on rail
I strongly believe that Honolulu should be investing in infrastructure projects, including transportation projects that will provide benefits to its residents and increase economic activity.
However, now is not the right time for these projects. Infrastructure projects like Honolulu elevated rail are important and might create some jobs, but they’re not as important as other pressing  matters, including resolving our sewer system or fixing our roads.
Furthermore, if this project continues to flounder about or even fail, what signal will that send to potential investors in Hawaii? I’m afraid it will only be another sign that investing in Hawaii is risky business.

Truth be told, this letter is in today’s Sacramento Bee, not the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and I inserted Honolulu-specific phrases and descriptions to replace the writer’s references to California and the state’s high-speed rail project.

The point, of course, is that negativity about rail projects can be found everywhere they’re planned, which isn’t unusual given America's decades of car-centric planning and highway construction.

Why bother to make this point today? Because highways and the vehicles that ride on them can’t begin to accomplish the Honolulu rail project’s goals, which is this blog's focus these days.

Yes2Rail is in the final three weeks of its direct connection with Honolulu rail. I’m paid to write it as an educational tool to help Oahu residents understand the project, perhaps better than they did before they stumbled onto this blog.

More on Mobility
There’s no better way to go out than by focusing on those goals. As noted yesterday, Jerry Comcowich’s constant badgering has pushed Yes2Rail in this direction, and yesterday’s post quoted from one in July 2008 on rail’s big deliverable – the restoration of mobility to residents and workers in the long southern Oahu urban corridor.

Oahu’s population in 2030 is expected to be 150,000 to 200,000 higher than it was in 2005 due to births and migration to the island. The street and highway network in this already crowded corridor will become even more congested, since there’s simply no more space and no apparent public desire to pour more concrete for highways.

Honolulu’s elevated rail system will restore mobility by allowing travelers to avoid that congestion. They’ll enjoy traffic-free trips that, not incidentally, will be fast, frequent, reliable and safe.

All those photographs of at-grade rail accidents in Yes2Rail’s right-hand column aren’t there to fill space. They convey a message about the wisdom of building Honolulu’s elevated system above all surface traffic – where it will be impossible to collide with vehicles and pedestrians.

Predictable Arrivals
With the restoration of true mobility, which can be loosely defined as the ability to pick up and go any time you want, Honolulu residents will achieve something that eludes them today – knowing when they’ll arrive at their destination. Here’s something from Yes2Rail’s August 14, 2008 post:

“If you drive in Honolulu, you already know what a crap shoot it is to accurately predict when you’ll arrive at your destination. Surface streets or freeway, it makes no difference; traffic can block your progress when it’s least expected.
Many of us have scratched our heads as we sit in a jam on H-1 on days when ‘it shouldn’t be like this.’ We recall a Saturday morning several weeks back when the highway was clogged for no apparent reason other than everybody wanted to be on it at once.
Rail will be different. Anyone who chooses to ride the system through the urban corridor between ewa and downtown will know their exact time of arrival before they even set foot on the train. Grade-separated transit is the only transportation mode that can do that – well, aside from short trips by foot.”

That’s worth repeating. Only a transportation mode that’s separated from all other traffic throughout the entire trip can deliver you to your destination on time, every time. Buses can't do that, and neither can toll roads.

That’s mobility in a nutshell, and it’s only one of the rail project's Big Four goals. The review continues tomorrow, but Yes2Rail can't sign off today without quoting a letter in today's Star-Advertiser in its entirety. It's full of experience-based wisdom:

People will learn to appreciate rail (Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7/23)
Years ago, I was in Chicago in the summer riding in an un-airconditioned cab from the airport.
It was hot and humid and traffic was moving at a snail's pace.
Then the train went by us at a steady pace, advancing through the gridlocked traffic like an ice breaker through the Arctic.
"Why didn't I take that instead?" I thought. It was cheaper, faster and air conditioned.
More recently I was in Phoenix during baseball season. I drove to the stadium through heavy traffic and paid $15 to park near to the stadium. The next time, I drove to a closer park-and-ride lot, parked for free, and rode the air-conditioned train to the front entrance of the stadium, for a $3 round trip. 
The advantages are not always apparent until you experience them.

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.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What’s the REAL Reason To Build Honolulu Rail? Opponents Make It Difficult To Know the Truth

Where should Oahu residents turn for the truth on why the city has been trying to build grade-separated transit for decades?
Here are three places they shouldn’t go – HawaiiReporter.com, HonoluluTraffic.com and HonoluluWeekly.com. 

HawaiiReporter.com and HonoluluTraffic.com are Internet-only sites, unlike HonoluluWeekly.com, which mirrors the anti-rail content of the alternative newspaper’s print edition.

The three websites are anti-rail in philosophy and content and have been for years, but let’s look at one particular current offering. HawaiiReporter’s latest contribution to mixing up rail’s intent appeared yesterday in a commentary that was topped by this unusual headline: 

 Rail Does Preserve or Protect Oahu's Open Spaces
It surely is right up there among other local journalism gaffes, since only by adding the word Not does the headline reflect the commentary’s thrust. But beyond the headline, the first two sentences of the piece deserve attention because they misstate rail’s purpose:

“The main argument made by pro railers to continue support for this rail plan outside of claims for jobs or traffic relief, is that if you do not build the rail, future housing development will threaten and eventually plague the Windward, North Shore, or east Honolulu areas and all green space as we know it that is characterize (sic) as ‘open space,’ will be jeopardized. The premise that keeping the country country is only possible if rail is built is a complete farce.”

Everybody is free to provide their own favorite reasons to build the 20-mile elevated rail guideway; of course, but their “main argument“ isn’t about preserving open space. It’s just one argument, but clearly, rail’s primary purpose is to provide a travel option that will be completely unaffected by street and highway congestion.

For the record, here are rail’s four main goals as described in the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (summarized by Yes2Rail 18 months ago at the start of 2011:

• Improve corridor mobility – Congestion has increased steadily through the decades and will continue to worsen in the decades ahead. The FEIS states: “Given current and increasing levels of congestion, an alternative method of travel is needed within the study corridor independent of current and projected highway congestion.” In other words, Honolulu rail will provide congestion-free travel through the urban corridor and thereby restore true mobility – the ability to know both your departure and arrival times for trips across town.

• Improve corridor travel reliability – Car and bus travel are susceptible to delays that can occur without warning. “This lack of predictability is inefficient and results in lost productivity or free time,” the FEIS states. “A need exists to provide more reliable transit services.” Honolulu rail will operate on a time table; train travel from one end of the line to the other will take 42 minutes day in and day out.

• Improve access to planned development to support City policy to develop a second urban center – Again from the FEIS: “Accessibility to the overall `Ewa Development Plan area is currently severely impaired by the congested roadway network, which will only get worse in the future.” Without improved accessibility to support Ewa’s growth, the area is less likely to develop as outlined in the City’s General Plan for decades.

• Improve transportation equity – Proponents of elevated highways make no allowance for this goal in their schemes to build high-occupancy toll (HOT) roads as an option to rail. They ignore transportation equity, which the FEIS defines as “the fair distribution of resources so that no group carries an unfair burden of the negative environmental, social, or economic impacts or receives an unfair share of benefits.” HOT lanes would serve only those who can afford to pay the toll, an option that obviously ignores the equity issue. Honolulu rail will provide fast, frequent, reliable and safe travel to all groups of citizens, regardless of their income and age.

Tricky Predictions
Zeroing in on the author’s intent, which is to marginalize the “open space” argument to support rail’s construction, he seems to predict that since no major housing projects are currently proposed outside the ewa plain, they wouldn’t materialize if rail were killed either.

Predicting what the future holds in rail’s absence is tricky business, but going to the source documents once again can help clarify what might happen.

Here’s are quotes from the FEIS’s paragraph 1.8.:
“Consistent with the Honolulu General Plan, the highest population growth rates for the island are projected in the Ewa Development Plan area…., which is expected to grow by approximately 150 percent between 2000 and 2030. This growth represents nearly 50 percent of the total growth projected for the entire island. The communities of Waianae, Wahiawa, North Shore, Windward Oahu, Waimanalo, and East Honolulu will have much lower population growth of up to 23 percent, if infrastructure policies support the planned growth rates in the Ewa Development Plan area (emphasis added)….

“Accessibility to the overall Ewa Development Plan area is currently severely impaired by the congested roadway network, which will only get worse in the future. This area is less likely to develop as planned unless it is accessible to Downtown and other parts of Oahu; therefore, the Ewa Development plan area needs improved accessibility to support its future planned growth (emphasis added).”

There in a nutshell is the rail-preserves-open-space argument within the FEIS, a document that’s been approved at all levels of government during the rail project’s planning process.

Failure to build rail would put added pressure on the ewa region’s road network. Since Oahu’s population will continue to grow, housing to accommodate that growth will have to go someplace. There’s only so much urban space available for that growth, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest pressures would increase to build that housing elsewhere on the island.

So HawaiiReporter.com’s inadvertent headline indeed makes sense:

Rail Does Preserve or Protect Oahu's Open Spaces
It just reads better when or is replaced by and.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mainland Media Examine Transportation Modes: WSJ on Driverless Cars, NPR Highlights Options, And California Launches High-Speed Rail Project

Let’s get out of the daily give-and-take on Honolulu rail and see what’s being said on the mainland about transportation. It might just be educational.
From today’s San Jose Mercury News: “With his most public cheerleading yet for California's bullet train, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed the $8 billion bill to kick off high-speed rail construction and showed no sign he was worried about voters' increasing skepticism for the rail line.

“Calling naysayers ‘NIMBYs,’ ‘fearful men,’ and ‘declinists,’ the governor celebrated a project that he first signed a bill to study 30 years ago…. ’This legislation will help put thousands of people in California back to work. By improving regional transportation systems, we are investing in the future of our state and making California a better place to live and work,’ Brown said.”

If this sounds familiar to Honolulu ears, it should. Much of California high-speed rail commentary is also said about the Honolulu project – from both sides of the issue.

Local critics led by anti-railer-in-chief Cliff Slater have criticized the construction plan for Honolulu rail, which will be built in phases. The earliest will connect Kapolei with Waipahu and Aloha Stadium, and critics laugh off the ridership projections between those points.

There’s a similar complaint in California. Critics there ridicule the high-speed line’s initial construction in the Central Valley between Madera and Bakersfield. “These are not exactly major centers of business and culture,” sniffs one nay-sayer.

Transportation projects have to start somewhere, of course, and Honolulu rail supporters counter the criticism by noting that wherever the first phase is built, a maintenance and storage facility must be located adjacent to it.

Work on Honolulu’s 43-acre MSF began last year on a site just off Farrington Highway between Leeward Community College and Waipahu High School. Carving out space that large in urban Honolulu for the MSF would have been too costly with too much impact on the community, which is why the project is proceeding from west to east.

Driverless Future?
Mr. Slater liked the piece he read in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal so much he’s posted a link to it at his anti-rail, pro-car website. An article headlined Paving the Way for Driverless Cars has a few nuggets that are worth calling out because of their relevance to the Honolulu rail project.

Author Clifford Winston notes early in his article: “It is already possible to imagine a world in which you could predict exactly how long it would take to drive in your car from one point to another. No worries about rush hour, vacation congestion, bad drivers, speed traps and accidents. You could also text while you drive with no safety implications.”

Ironically, those are exactly the same arguments Honolulu rail supporters make about the project. As we’ve noted repeatedly here at Yes2Rail, grade-separated transit is the only travel mode that allows users to accurately predict their time of arrival before they even start their trip.

Deep into his piece, Mr. Winston reveals what may really be driving the push for high-tech driverless systems, a recurring desire of car advocates to create exclusive highway lanes that only the well-to-do could routinely afford:

“The future also holds the promise of new communications technologies that could let road authorities use electronic tolls to charge motorists for their contribution to congestion, based on actual traffic conditions, and thus encourage them to travel during off-peak periods, use alternative routes, or switch to public transit. Driverless cars would significantly help motorists respond to congestion tolls because their technology can balance the cost of a toll with its travel time savings to optimize motorists’ route choices.”

Anti-rail UH professor Panos Prevedouros put it more succinctly a couple years ago: “Higher tolls are necessary to discourage overloading.”

As we commented at the time, “Vehicles presumably can travel relatively congestion-free on (high-occupancy toll) lanes (when there are no accidents) only because most people decline to pay the high tolls. They’re left to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the other highways.”

The same would be true in Mr. Winston’s high-tech car-dominant future society. It’s a vision that truly hard to imagine happening on Oahu anytime before 2050 at the earliest, yet congestion-free through-town travel will be achieved with the completion of the Honolulu rail project’s 20-mile line by 2020. 

Sooner is better than later in Honolulu, which already has the worst traffic congestion in the nation!

War on Cars?
Finally, National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” program aired a segment yesterday that’s recommended listening for Oahu residents as they ponder the never-ending debate on the island’s future – with or without rail transit.

NPR’s ongoing “cities project” reports on the state of urban America. ATC’s story Wednesday afternoon said its next few series segments will examine cities’ relationship with cars. One city examined yesterday is the nation’s capital, where the director of Washington’s Office of Planning says there’s a shift under way from decades of car-focused transportation planning.

“We’ve begun more than a decade-long effort to rebalance our transportation system, in part because we just don’t have the capacity in the city to accommodate everybody who wants to be here to work or to live if everyone was always in an automobile for every trip,” says Harriet Tregoning.

More transportation options are good for not just commuters but city residents, too, she says: “People are using these other transportation modes, and it’s making it possible for restaurants and other businesses to open in all kinds of neighborhoods throughout the city.”

The ATC piece is informative listening, including how cities collaborated with the automobile industry to create an urban landscape that’s been overwhelmed by cars and the road infrastructure to support them for the past century.

That’s changing all over America, and it’s changing in Honolulu, too. As Governor Brown said yesterday: "What is is all about is investing in the future. I know there are some fearful men I call them declinists who want to put their head in a hole and hope reality changes. I don't see it that way. This is a time to invest, to create thousands of jobs."