US Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii
US Senator Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii

BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – Here is my analysis of Senator Daniel Inouye’s pro-rail statement* dated November 29, 2011.  The numbers in [brackets] point to the explanations of the misstatements below.

 

Federal funds are hard to come by in the current budget climate and Honolulu has an opportunity to secure substantial federal support [1]

for this long awaited project [2]

designed to help alleviate traffic on Oahu. [3]

Rail transit will create thousands of jobs and bring welcome relief to commuters who are forced to spend hours in their cars each day inching through congested roadways. [4]

We have planned this project and debated its merits for decades and we must move forward. [5]

We must set aside our differences and work together. [6]

I remain committed to this project and will continue to do everything I can to direct federal funds to the work [7]

and ensure its timely completion,” [8]

said Senator Inouye.

 

[1] The FTA did not sign the Full Funding Grant Agreement this fall. Worse yet, budget sequestration may kick in soon, as you have warned in the past. If strong political arm twisting was not applied to the FTA, then they would not support this costly and ineffective system. FTA supports light rail and BRT, not hyper-expensive eyesores like Miami’s and Honolulu’s elevated monstrosities.

[2] You appear to be oblivious to the public sentiment on Oahu about rail. Pro-rail Mayors Carlisle and Hannemann were resoundly rejected by voters. Surveys indicate opposition to rail.

[3] Oahu is not Kapolei and Hoopili; they are less than 5% of Oahu. No modern rail system has reduced traffic congestion in any appreciable way.  But they did result to bus service deterioration and contributed to bond downgrading due to cost overruns and other transit cost increases. Los Angeles has sunk $12 Billion too “modern rail” but it carries less than 4% of its workers based on the 2010 US Census.

[4] Actually, average commutes on Oahu are tolerable. American Commuter Survey data by the U.S. Department of Commerce show that average commute on Oahu is 29 minutes long and the trend is decreasing. Currently Country Express Bus C provides faster Kapolei to Downtown travel time than rail ever will. The fact that travel times to and from Kapolei are overlong is a testament of the failure to make the 2nd city, the 2nd city. Kapolei is heavily dependent on the 1st city and your support for a rail tether makes this dependency permanent.

[5] Every time in the past, the rail project was halted because it was clear that its cultural, aesthetic and economic impacts were simply too much for the tiny benefits that it offers. This time rail costs twice or more than earlier proposals and gets the lowest federal share!

[6] Together? Nobody ever involved with the rail worked with anybody. From Mufi’s “you are with us or you are against us”, to Carlisle’s “this is just an anti rail tirade” response to Gov. Lingle’s financial analysis report, to yourself having never come out with any credible detail on why you support this boondoggle.

[7] In the last round of transit fund requests you requested $250 Million for HART and less than $100 Million were approved in MAP-21. Most rail systems receive 50% or more federal cost share but this one receives only about 30% (if it doesn’t have any cost overruns, which the feds never cover.)

[8] Sir! There will be no timely completion. The project timetable has slipped by nearly three (3) years already and as of last month the project is in violation of state law and is completely halted for at least a year.

 

(*) http://www.inouye.senate.gov/news/press-releases/honolulu-rail-transit-project-eligible-to-share-in-an-allocation-up-to-510-000-000-in-federal-funds-next-year

 

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