Honolulu Rail Round Up: Star-Advertiser Publishes Serious Misstatement in Pro-Rail Article; Rail Be Huge Eyesore, Expert Said; Bombardier to HART: Reconsider Rail Bid; Bunda May Joint HART

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Star-Advertiser Publishes Serious Misstatement in Pro-Rail Article, Critics Say

Brian Barbata writes in a Hawaii Reporter letter to the editor today that the Star-Advertiser’s Sunday’s paper issued a report entitled “Rail is Oahu’s future” that contained “a serious mis-statement”


Barbata said: “The rebuttal article in Sunday’s paper (“Rail is Oahu’s future”) contained a serious mis-statement. Traffic congestion is obviously the core justification for rail, and the authors cited the 2010 INRIX Travel Time Tax study, saying it: ‘…ranks Honolulu as the second-most congested city in the US’, with only LA being worse. That didn’t make sense to me, so I Googled INRIX. Anyone interested should go to https://scorecard.inrix.com. What you will find is that Honolulu is way down on their ‘Most Congested’ list.”

“According to INRIX, we are 37th, and have been pretty consistently there for 5 years. But instead, the City chose to cite INRIX’s ‘Travel Time Tax Rank’, a complex formula of peak travel time versus delays, apparently because it sounded dramatically more supportive. They also conveniently neglected glaring other contrary data a few columns over, showing that Honolulu’s “Travel Time Tax” (the same reference they chose as supportive) actually decreased by 16% between 2006 and 2010. In other words, according to INRIX, Honolulu congestion is not a crisis and seems to be getting slightly better, not worse,” he added.

Transportation expert Panos Prevedouros PHD, agrees with Barbata and has this to add:

Brian is correct.

And here is the oft quoted Texas Transportation Index for traffic congestion…

Honolulu ranks 57th.

Scroll at the bottom to see other rankings… Percent Congested Daily Travel… rank 39 … similar to INRIX’s 37.

More recent data here:


All our rankings are at 50th worse, which places us quite low in national priority.

25th worst is the Travel Time Index — our commutes balloon exponentially largely because of parents driving kids to schools, so many commuters double their trips… home to kid’s school, and school to work (or parents make the home-work trips and grandparents make the home-school-home trips… in this case it is 3 instead of 1 trip in the rush hour.)

Honolulu Rail to Be Huge Eyesore, Expert Writes

Transportation Expert Randal O’Toole, who has been on Hawaii Reporter’s television show and made presentations in Hawaii, writes in his blog, The Anti Planner, about Honolulu’s proposed rail project.

“Readers might want to discuss this editorial against the Honolulu rail project, which it says “would change the landscape in ways many are unwilling to accept.” Only subscribers can read more than the first couple of paragraphs, but Honolulu is one of the best examples of how our transit system is broken.

“Honolulu has about the highest rate of per capita transit ridership after New York City and one of the highest rates of transit commuting in the country, so you wouldn’t think a big project like this would be needed to “fix” Honolulu’s transit. It is purely a matter of elected officials chasing after “free” federal money to distribute to contractors who will make appropriate campaign contributions. (Significantly, the mayor who rammed the project through Honolulu’s city council then ran for governor but lost in the primary.)”

“Despite all the problems with the line, including the fact that an elevated line will become a huge eyesore in a city whose main business is selling scenery, not to mention the fact that the federal government is running out of money (and the will to spend it), Hawaii Senator Inouye has promised to bring home the bacon (which has been his main job for more than 40 years). We’ll see whether Tea Party Republicans in the House can keep him from succeeding.”

Bombardier to HART: Reconsider Rail Bid

On August 31, 2011, Bombardier’s vice president, Andrew S. Robbins, P.E., sent a letter to the The Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Board of Directors regarding Bombardier’s disqualification to fulfill a $1.4 billion contract for rail cars on the city’s proposed $5.3 billion rail line.

He suggests that board members reconsider Bombardier’s proposal to provide $1.4 billion worth of rail equipment including rail cars for the city’s planned steel on steel rail system.

Out of three bidders, the city selected Ansaldo, but the its parent company is having financial troubles, and the city may change course.

Bombardier continues to believe that the best and most efficient course of action is to reverse the improper disqualification of Bombardier’s proposal and permit the evaluation of all three Offerors to pick up where it left off, including full consideration of Bombardier’s proposal. We believe the results will be compelling and will provide confidence to taxpayers that HART truly has acted fully to ensure that the best value was obtained. Such a course of action can be accomplished very swiftly as most of the work has already been completed.

Should the course of action above not be possible, there is another avenue that is viable. HART can call for new bids from all three Offerors, which can be accomplished, in a reasonable period of time, likely not to exceed two months. Such an action has been taken in other jurisdictions when a situation arises that potentially taints the procurement process.

We are aware that Sumitomo has suggested to you that, should the AnsaldoHonolulu proposal ultimately be rejected, Sumitomo ought to be awarded the contract. You should be aware, however that this would create a situation where HART selects the most expensive proposal of the three submitted to the City, as the City’s NPV analysis attached to this letter clearly shows. With Bombardier’s proposal reinserted into the evaluation, awarding to Sumitomo would also mean that the City would have selected the lowest scoring and highest priced proposal of the three Priority Listed offerors.

See the full letter.

Former Senate President May Serve on HART Board

Robert Bunda may join the board of Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation – or HART, a city spokesperson said today. The former state Senate president lost his bid for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary in 2010 and has been relatively quite since.

Five members of the 9-member commission, which is supposed to oversee development and financing of the city’s proposed $5.3 billion rail project, recommended Bunda today as the 10th and final member. The full commission will vote on Bunda’s position on September 16.

Bunda is also a member of the newly-formed state Public Land Development Corp., created by the Legislature this year to explore expedited and expanded uses of state-owned properties.

The public can submit comments on his HART nomination or testify at the hearing, scheduled for 8 a.m. in the Mission Memorial Annex conference room.