Star Advertiser Editorial Board Should Offer Other Side of the Story

Cliff Slater
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Cliff Slater

BY CLIFF SLATER – There is always a massive difference between whether the Star Advertiser’s management likes an idea or a candidate, or not, and if not, then their editorials are unreasonably unfair.

As another writer pointed out, when Gov. Ben Cayetano declines all the debate requests asked of him, it is unreasonable.


When U.S. Senate Candidate Mazie Hirono at one point was declining to debate at all, there was no criticism.

The Star Advertiser management wants rail. So they turn for advice to the transparently subjective City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka for consultation; they do not appear to have asked the other side for their opinions.

We offer the following comments on Yoshioka’s points:

In considering the 2-mile Nimitz flyover supposedly costing $600 million, according to Yoshioka, the Star Advertiser should consider that the winning bid for the 6.5 mile first segment of the rail bed was $487 million, or $75 million a mile, or $150 million for 2 miles. However, the road does not need the strength that the rail bed needs. For example, the 59-foot wide Tampa Expressway sits on six foot pillars while the 30-foot wide rail bed also needs 6-foot pillars. Roads are cheaper to build than rail beds.

Second, the Nimitz Flyover Final EIS issued during Governor Cayetano’s time, not Governor Lingle’s.

Third, this harpiing on operating costs without consideration of capital costs ignores basic economics. The ½ percent GE Tax override is doing harm to our economy already; UH Economics Professor James Roumasset calculates that the tax override is costing Honolulu about 1,000 jobs annually. The locally funded rail project capital cost is $3.5 billion. Were we to issue bonds for that amount the interest costs alone would be $175 million annually without ever paying off that liability. That gives you some idea of the amount of damage currently being done to our economy.

Fourth, Yoshioka can say that he studied the kind of low-height underpasses proposed by Professor Panos Prevedouros for the Cayetano FAST proposal, but that sure missed us. He often says that the City studied this or studied that but somehow the paperwork detailing it can never be found.

Fifth, the biggest whopper is Yoshioka saying the computerized traffic signals “are being implemented.” We have been hearing that for at least the last 25 years. During the last rail iteration, 20 years ago, the same jokes were being bandied about then, as they are now, that the city was doing nothing about traffic lights until the rail line opened. The City did not want any traffic improvements to interfere with the demand for rail.

While the editorial carps about a lack of detail of the Cayetano FAST transportation proposal, we suggest they cut to the quick:

The Star Advertiser management should remember that Parsons Brinckerhoff’s 2003 BRT Final EIS projected more riders for BRT than they currently do for rail.

Second, as another  indicator, the Country Express Bus C currently takes less time to get Downtown using the Zipper Lane than that promised for the rail line.

Lastly, it doesn’t take an accountant to figure out that whatever the BRT costs, it is obviously going to cost a tiny fraction of the rail project with all its attendant computers, trains, rails, security staff, etc.