City Fixed on Rail -Let’s Not Forget There are Other Options

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“Colleen Meyer Image”

David Shapiro’s recent opinion-editorial in ”’The Honolulu Advertiser’s”’ June 28 edition raised the notion that the City is locked into rail being the best option for Oahu’s traffic woes. Given the recent feedback from the City at their series of public forums, it certainly appears that way.


The results of a recent poll conducted by ”’The Honolulu Advertiser”’ concluded that 24 percent of the respondents considered traffic on O’ahu as the number one problem requiring attention.

Way down the list were public transit/rail or bus and mass transit/rail receiving 3 percent and 2 percent of the poll participants concerns respectively.

The Hawaii Highway Users Alliance recently hosted a transportation panel at the State Capitol, which discussed transportation options for O’ahu.

Panelist Brian D. Taylor, visiting University of California Los Angeles professor and Director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies, raised some interesting points in his presentation, titled “How Do We Get the Most Bang for Our Transit Investment Buck.” His report brought up some important factors that should be considered when looking at the most effective transportation options.

First, Prof. Taylor’s presentation revealed that advocates of rail transit define the problem by using the most preferred solution. Using this approach, advocates assert that the problem of traffic congestion is because Honolulu does not have rail transit. That is framing the question to arrive at a predetermined answer. Secondly, he encouraged decision-makers to investigate the most cost-effective options to address our traffic problems.

This past May, Secretary of the U.S.Department of Transportation Norman Mineta, unveiled some new national strategies to combat traffic congestion.

They included more efficient and responsive bus systems that tailor services specifically for rush-hour commuters (upgrading our current bus system), opening up transportation infrastructure to private investment opportunities (high-occupancy toll roads), and speeding up the review process for highway projects underway.

All of these alternatives are cheaper than the rail system as proposed.

Oahu’s proposed rail system appears to have too large a price tag for the low ridership projected at 120,000