So tell me people of Oahu, don’t you just love our potholes? Aren’t our streets just a wonderful patchwork quilt of varying shades and grades of asphalt? Don’t you just love bouncing your way down Beretania or Kalakaua or Kapiolani Blvd? Aren’t the growing cracks and crevices ever so pretty?
So, you think you’ve paid no price for those pleasant On the Beach functions? Better think again. You think all those beautiful fountains and public works projects in Waikiki didn’t cost you anything extra? Better think again. It cost you plenty. It is costing you plenty still.
An inkling of how much was documented in a May 5th, 2003 article in ”’The Honolulu Advertiser”’:
“Hawaii motorists spend an extra $114 million a year in repair and operating costs because of poor road conditions. That comes out to $151 per motorist each year.”
You see, the money that went into those ribbon cutting projects didn’t go into city upkeep of the roads, and eventually came out of your pocket anyway. The new set of shocks, the extra gas spent creeping around potholes, the fouled fuel injectors, the extra trips to jiffy lube, the flat tire, the new car you had to bite the bullet and buy because your old one was trashed, all were due in part to the rotten condition of our roads. You paid, you just didn’t know you paid. In fact, you paid twice. Once in taxes for the projects and once to repair your car. Isn’t your heart warmed to know the truth?
Some of you paid in another way as well, from the same article:
“Poor road conditions are a factor in an estimated 30 percent of traffic fatalities in the state.”
Yes, some of you paid with your lives, and the lives of your loved ones.
And the City and the Mayor are getting ready to do it to you again. Are you ready?
It’s called the In-Town BRT.
The Mayor and the City are planning to pour several million dollars a day into the roads for dedicated lanes for the BRT and leave the rest of us to rot. The projected cost of this project is around a $1 billion, give or take a few $100 million (Well … Give for sure, it will be guaranteed to have cost overruns, we are talking about government after all.) This will be $1 billion less from city coffers available for needed road and infrastructure repair and maintenance. Unless you are saying we can afford to pay taxes to do both. Oh, I see, you want to pay more taxes. OK.
Well, in that case, you will pay twice. You will pay in increased taxes to build this thing, (Oh, didn’t the Mayor tell you he will have to raise your taxes to fund this yet? Just wait.) And you will pay in more car repairs and with your lives. All for the privilege of having fewer lanes in and out of Waikiki and for the downtown commute. Isn’t that just wonderful?
I was driving into Waikiki the other evening to pick up my wife around 7:00 pm and I drove by the “B Express,” that huge articulated thing designed to move crowds. I pulled up one lane over at a light and could see clearly inside. There were 7 passengers. That’s it, 7 people in that huge fuel hog. We have such wonderful central planners, don’t we? Aren’t they ever so efficient?
Yeah, yeah, I know we have the best bus system in America, it won all the awards and everything to prove it but Portland Oregon, where I am from, has a pretty good system too. It is run by its own agency called the TriMet. They even have the light rail that the City wanted to implement here, one upon a time. It is called The Max. Since it is a single agency they can’t hide their operation costs like the City can here. Their figures are so very interesting, shows just what we can expect from expanded rapid transit here. It is such a joy to behold.
Between 1971, when it was created, and 2001 ridership increased a whopping 360 percent. Ain’t that grand? While costs only increased by 1,323 percent! Costs merely increased 3.6 times as much as ridership, imagine that. Who says this isn’t a smashing success?
Not only that, ridership on The Max within the downtown area is free. When they recently extended this to the east side of the city across the river, drug dealers and criminals would commit crimes, hop on the rail, slip across the river and disappear. Now the City gets to employ even more police officers dedicated solely to riding the train to prevent these crimes. What a fantastic use of police resources, don