Raising the county tax on gasoline would solve the traffic congestion. It probably needs to be raised on the order of about $1 a gallon — or whatever produces the drastic desired reduction in individual car usage. That tax could also be used to subsidize free bus rides for everybody — so the poor can’t complain about not being able to drive to get anywhere. Driving an individual automobile is not a constitutional right guaranteed as a categorical imperative of every society. In fact, hydrocarbon consumption is the leading contributor to the problems of contemporary society — traffic congestion, pollution, premature deaths, property damage, etc. Undoubtedly, there are benefits of such consumption — but not without a cost, and that cost-benefit consideration should be uppermost in the minds of every 21st Century citizen.

I might be wrong about this but I’ve heard they project an increase of revenue on the order of $150 million with an increase of 0.5% in the GET. Right now, they’re discussing a $2.6 billion project, that if running consistent to other recalculations and overruns projected in other cities undertaking rail projects, is likely to be a $10+ billion project by completion — before considering high perpetual maintenance costs, which is why the public service unions are the only ones to show up in force at these hearings. They apparently can’t wait for the day they can paralyze Hawaii’s economy and society with their wage demands — but that’s another story we know too well.

Having attended a few of these hearings, it’s also distressing that a major tactic used to promote rail in Honolulu has been the use of distortion, misinformation and ignorance — promoted by the usual suspects of the media. One self-proclaimed expert said Honolulu is the 5th most densely populated city in the US and all the others had rail. Having personally lived in most of the major population areas in the US, my observation has been that the most successful mass transits systems were because there was a low automobile ownership and so mass transit was not an attractive alternative but their primary means of transportation — which is true of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, New Orleans, San Francisco, etc. As mind=boggling as it sounds, there are actually places in this country and the world, where the majority of the residents do not own a car — out of necessity for many but as a prudent choice even by those who could afford to do so, or for that matter, could afford to do anything they wanted to.

If one looks up the population density charts, one will actually find one in which Hawaii appears as the 5th most densely populated SMSA — however, among the top 20 are such notables as Oxnard, Modesto, Merced and Stockton. That is a very curious listing that runs quite counter to one’s actual experience of such destinations. In a more typical listing, Honolulu is the 67th most densely populated city and the county of Honolulu is the 87th most densely populated county in the US. So these people are very selective as to what information is used.

It’s like the newspapers locally are wont to quote the salaries at Harvard as being higher than salaries at the University of Hawaii as an argument for why the University of Hawaii’s should be higher, overlooking the reason they’re higher. They’re the most eminent and valued and not because Cambridge has the highest cost of living in the country.

”’Mike Hu, a resident of Honolulu, can be reached via email at”’ mailto:humikhu@aol.com