National Transportation Policy Project Comparison Score: 20 Miles of Elevated Rail Will be Half as Good as 10 miles of HOT Lanes

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BY PANOS PREVEDOUROS PHD – The National Transportation Policy Project (NTPP) sponsored by the Bipartisan Policy Center produced Performance Driven: New Vision for U.S. Transportation Policy.

We analyzed how 20 miles of rail with 21 stations, and 10 miles of HOT lanes would score in an application in Honolulu in a series of three articles corresponding to the three NTPP goals, as follows:


Economic Growth

Energy and Environment


Now let’s add up the scores for Rail and HOT Lanes based on the three NTPP goals and their six metrics. This may seem like a straight forward addition, but it is not. The NTPP report does not say that the three goals are of equal importance.

One decision making body may assume that the goals of Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, and Safety are equal, so each one has a weight of 33.3%.

Another decision making body may determine that safety is paramount and the other two goals are lesser in importance, so the safety goal has a weight of 50% and the other two have a weight of 25% each.

A variety of weighted importance percentages may be used, but to conclude this exercise of transportation alternatives pre-planning let’s summarize the scores using the two summation schemes mentioned above.

The table above clearly shows that based on the 2009 National Transportation Performance Criteria, HOT Lanes is a far superior alternative to Elevated Rail for Oahu.

Using equal weights of 33.3% for each goal, HOT Lanes scores 60 points and Elevated Rail scores 27 points. If Safety is worth 50% and the other two goals are worth 25% each, then in total HOT Lanes scores 60 points and Elevated Rail scores 32 points.

Honolulu made the wrong choice in the 2006 Alternatives Analysis when Elevated Rail was chosen as the Locally Preferred Alternative.

This evaluation using 2009 NTPP goals shows how big a mistake was made: When economic growth, energy, environment and safety performance are accounted for, 20 miles of Elevated Rail will barely be half as good as 10 miles of HOT Lanes.