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June 23, 2017

Our definitive statement on the way overstated rail ridership:

It can be downloaded here:

 

HNN -- "Rail critics say rider projections inflated, transparency lacks with HART board":

Hawaii News Now's Rick Daysog covered yesterday's HART Board Meeting where Randy Roth and Cliff Slater argued for more transparency in HART's public outreach efforts. You can see elements of it live on HNN and Rick Daysog's reportage.

Read below for some of the material Roth and Slater tried to cover by during the hearing but were prevented from doing so by Wes Frystacki, who is both the head of the Department of Transportion Services and one of the preparers of the rail project's Final EIS.

 

June 10, 2017

Here is what you need to know about rail:

First is that rail only promises the miniscule advantage of reducing auto traffic by 1.7 percent; it will not be noticeable.

That 1.7 percent will happen only if they have the rail ridership, and there is no chance of that. Half the ridership will reduce the traffic improvement to less than one percent.

It will have the worst environmental impact of anything in “the last 100 years.” (See #3 in the handout.)

It will use more energy per passenger mile than we do now, whether by automobile or bus.

It will have a bad effect on road traffic due to the supporting columns taking up road space. Think for a moment of eight-foot diameter pillars (the width of a city bus) along Halekauwila Street.

Go to our handout for a little more detail and if you really want to get into the weeds, try our tabs to the left.

When you get down to working out all the options open to us to remedy the current rail situation it all comes down to the “Dumb and dumber” solution, which Randy Roth and I wrote about in Civil Beat recently. It is really a dumb idea to just stop rail where it is. On the other hand, it is even dumber to spend another $9 billion to get it to Ala Moana Center (it doesn’t even open until the rush hour has passed). All to get a less than one percent decrease in traffic, which is worsening one percent a year due to population growth.

Dumb or dumber — take your choice. 

 

Here is what you have to do about rail:

The City Council vote last week for the issuing of bonds for rail construction was 6-3 against us. In early 1992 we also lost a City Council vote on rail by that amount. But, by having large numbers of constituents contact their Councilmembers, we wore down our opposition and gained two more votes. We beat rail on September 22 of that year with a 5-4 vote in our favor.

It was a success we can repeat.

To do so, there are two actions you must take immediately:

1. Call your Councilmember (check who that is in the list below). If you can’t speak to someone or leave a voice message, send them an email. In all cases, it is important that you include your name and address so that they can check that you really are a constituent of theirs. Consider saying or writing something like this, firm but not abusive, and in your own words:

    “I am fed up with the out of control spending on rail. Don’t vote again for any rail taxes if you want my support. I am a constituent of yours, [Your name], [your address] [your zip code]”

2. On your Facebook page, write the following, but in your own words:

The City Council can still stop rail; only two more Council members need to change their votes. They need to know that their constituents are opposed to the Council raising taxes or borrowing any more money for rail. Go to www.honolulutraffic.com, learn more about the current rail situation and find out what you can do about it.

Generations now and yet to come will thank you for this effort.  

 

List of City Council Members

Dist

Member

e-mail

Phone

District Description

1

Kimberly Marcos Pine

kmpine@honolulu.gov

768.5001

Portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach, Kapolei, Makakilo, Kalaeloa, Honokai Hale, Ko Olina, Nanakuli, Ma'ili, Wai'anae, Makaha, Kea'au, Makua.

2

Ernest Martin

emartin@honolulu.gov

768.5002

Mililani Mauka, Wahiawa, Mokuleia, Waialua, Haleiwa, Pupukea, Sunset Beach, Kahuku, Laie, Hauula, Punaluu, Kahana, Kaaawa, Kualoa, Waiahole, and Kahaluu.

3

Ikaika Anderson

ianderson@honolulu.gov

768.5003

Ahuimanu, Heeia, Haiku, Kaneohe, Maunawili, Kailua, Olomana, Enchanted Lake, and Waimanalo.

4

Trevor Ozawa

tozawa@honolulu.gov

768.5004

Hawaii Kai, Kuliouou, Niu Valley, Aina Haina, Wailupe, Waialae-Iki, Kalani Valley, Kahala, Wilhemina Rise, Kaimuki, portions of Kapahulu, Diamond Head, Black Point, Waikiki, and Ala Moana Beach Park.

5

Ann Kobayashi

akobayashi@honolulu.gov

768.5005

Kaimuki, Palolo Valley, St. Louis Heights, Manoa, Moiliili, McCully, and portions of Ala Moana, Kakaako, and Makiki.

6

mailto:Carol Fukunaga

cafukunaga@honolulu.gov

768.5006

Portions of Makiki, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Fort Shafter, Moanalua, Halawa, Aiea, Kalihi Valley, and portions of Liliha and Kalihi.

7

Joey Manahan

jmanahan@honolulu.gov

768.5007

Kalihi, lwilei, Kalihi Kai, Mapunapuna, Salt Lake, Aliamanu, Hickam, Foster Village, Ford Island, and Sand Island.

8

Brandon Elefante

belefante@honolulu.gov

768.5008

Lower Aiea, Pearlridge, Waimalu, Newtown, Pearl City, Seaview, Crestview, Waipio Gentry and Waipahu.

9

Ron Menor

rmenor@honolulu.gov

768.5009

Waikele, Village Park, Royal Kunia, Mililani Town, West Loch, Iroquois Point, and portions of Ewa Villages and Ewa Beach.

 

June 10, 2017

Civil Beat: "The impending Honolulu Rail Ridership Debacle":

This late posting is of an article by Cliff Slater and Randy Roth that ran in Civil Beat in February this year.

It makes the case that there is no way that City can make its ridership projections. First, you have to know that the average shortfall on rail transit ridership projections is 40 percent according to the FTA's own studies.  Second, we show that the City would have to cut their projections in half to bring it anywhere near that of other rail cities. The article makes it all clear together with sources of information. Ask us if you have any doubts about it.

 

April 27, 2017

A Simpsons episode -- "Marge vs. The Monorail":

Dave Rolf reminds us of the classic Simpson's episode about a town's citizens getting suckered into an elevated rail line by a "Music Man." Here's an excerpt from it: SIMPSONS

 

April 27, 2017

Civil Beat: "Dumb and Dumber":

Today's Civil Beat carries an op/ed by Randy Roth and Cliff Slater wherein they make the case that there is one thing dumber than stopping the rail project dead in its tracks and that is to try to finish it. READ IT HERE.

 

April 21, 2017

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump" letter  now in the Star-Advertiser:

Their headline is "Cayetano asks Trump to ax Honolulu rail funds."

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump" letter on KITV:

Their headline is "To Donald from Ben don't fund Honolulu's train"

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump"  letter on New Geography:

New Geography is a great website specailizing in urban form and transportation issues.

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump"  letter on Civil Beat:

Their headline is "Cayetano To Trump: Cut Honolulu Rail Funds"

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump"  letter on Fox News:

You can see Malia Zimmerman's hand here on Fox News.

Governor Cayetano's "Dear President Trump"  letter in Washington Post:

The full-page ad was published in this morning's Washington Post and is already creating a buzz both locally and in Washington. Read the ad here.

 

March, 22, 2017

Here's why rail is going to cost $12 to $13 billion:

The Mayor has told us that will take a total of $6.8 billion just to get to Middle Street and $9.5 to get to Ala Moana Center. The difference of $2.7 billion we are told will build the last five miles of the 20-mile line. The cost of the maintenance depot in the first 15 miles is roughly offset by the cost of the more stations per mile iin the last five miles. That works out to be 28.4 percent of the money to build the last 25 percent of the line.

Bear in mind that this section is along crowded Dillingham Boulevard with major electrical utility problems, then Nimitz Highway, which is mostly fill land where each supporting pillar has to be itself supported by 3 to 5 others, and along Halekauwila Street, which is Ground Zero for 'iwi, the native Hawaiian burial sites.

You may also remember that this project started with a rock solid $5.3 billion projection cost. That has already been increased to $9.5 billion and we have not even got to the halfway point. You may also remember that we never predicted that the City would experience any cost overruns before they reached Dillingham Boulevard, the start of the Rail Quagmire, because doing the easy stuff first was why they were starting to build rail out in open fields.

You do not have to be a construction engineer to know that this last section is going to be far more costly than building in the empty fields at Ho'opili. So when Dr. Prevedouros tells us that we should be prepared for total construction costs of $12-$13 billion, you had better believe him.

  

March, 12, 2017

Ikaika Anderson "regrets"; like hell he does:

The late Honolulu City Council Chair Barbara Marshall must roll over in her grave when she hears the man she mentored, and who took over her council seat, Councilmember Ikaika Anderson, mouth off in today's Star Advertiser that, "We regret the situation in which we and our state colleagues find ourselves,” and then tells us we must finish it.

Like hell he does; he has enthusiastically pimped for rail since he was elected. It has not mattered that his constituents are opposed to rail and he can’t say he did not know what he was getting into. Here are Barbara Marshall’s thoughts on rail from a column written by Dan Boylan in 2007:

“I have this concern that we’ll start building the [rail] thing, run out of money, and have it end in an empty field somewhere. I’m also worried about the cost of maintaining a rail system. They’re expensive, and we’re already taxing our people to death.”

“I opposed the bill because I care about the people of the Leeward coast and Central Oahu,” she insists. “The proposed system isn’t going to give them any relief - not in the next 10 years or in the next 20 years. Even the mayor admits that it won’t ease congestion.” “But there are a myriad of things that we could do tomorrow that would ease congestion."

"Extend the zipper lane. Change the university’s hours at Manoa so that student traffic is not part of the rush hour crunch. Limit one lane of H-1 to buses only. Achieve greater traffic signal optimization. Build the university campus at West Oahu and support the development of businesses at Kapolei so that people who live out there can work out there. Stagger the work hours of city and state employees."

Barbara Marshall died on February 22, 2009, aged 64, after an eight-month battle with colon cancer. Marshall's husband, Cliff Ziems, endorsed her aide, Ikaika Anderson, to fill her city council seat; he was elected in a special election and was sworn into office on May 27, 2009. He has been voting for rail ever since. Where are his constituents?

 

March, 9, 2017

Civil Beat: "Honolulu rail: Too much; too late:

Civil Beat published this article today, which deals with why the Honolulu rail project will be totally obsolete not more than 15 years after they launch. Then we poor taxpayers have to come up with the funds to tear it down. It would be hilarious if it didn't costs so much, ruin the town's environment, and create trafffic congestion when it get into town that you won't believe. Read the story here. Then if have any questions write to us at info@honolulutraffic.com.

 

February 6, 2017

Here's why we will only get half the rail ridership the City projects:

When you compare both the flaws in the City's ridership projection's for rail and the record of other rail cities in achieving their rail projections, it becomes clear what we would get in ridership. Here are the indicators: Real Ridership

 

January 22, 2017

Lest we forget -- the wasted environment is worth more than the wasted money:

The before and after view of the Honolulu waterfront, courtesty of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Institue of Architects, says about  all there is to say about the rail's impact on the environment. Of course, you have to add the noise factor and the impact on traffic congestion of the 8' diameter pillars (the width of a city bus) stuck in the middle of Nimitz Highway.

 

January 17, 2017

Wall Street Journal says Trump should cut California's high speed rail funds:

The Wall Street Journal editorial board lists all the cost overruns and problems and then urges our new Transportation Secretary to yank the federal funding. They ask, "Why should national taxpayers pay for a boondoggle that California’s liberal legislators won’t?" Here's the link to WSJ today.

It's a good editorial but why did they leave us out?

 

January 16, 2017

Randy Roth's ThinkTech presentation:

Following is a link to a ThinkTech presentation of Randy Roth speaking on the rail situation. It would be most helpful if you would send it to all your friends and post it on your Facebook page.

 

date   October 31, 2016

Structural engineer Dennis Mitsunaga has ad in Sunday's SA:  

In this full-page advertisement titled "Will the rail be safe to travel on?" in the Star Advertiser yesterday, Dennis Mitsunaga spells out his qualifications to discuss the structural defects of the rail project and then does so in 1,600 words. You will find it most interesting.

In the interest of making the piece more reader-friendly, we have taken the liberty of removing much of the capitalization and underlining.

 

date   October 30, 2016

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose:  

The new CEO of HART, Mr. Krishniah Murthy, appears to be better qualified than anyone who has held that position before. Of course, that is not saying very much.

The problem as we see it is that Mr. Murthy is a 34 year veteran of Parsons Brinckerhoff, a fact which seems to have escaped Hawaii's major media. PB is the outfit that helped Mayor Hannemann get us into the difficulties we are experiencing today. Mr. Murthy worked for PB during Honolulu rail's formative period, 2004-2007. No one seems to have asked what involvement, if any, he had with the Honolulu project. What involvement did he have, if any, with the Boston project?

In addition, we have never been told what led to the replacement of PB by the less experienced company, CH2MHill. This was a billion dollar contract originally awarded to PB and yet they lost it with nary a whimper. Very strange.

As the French say, the more it changes, the more it is the same thing.

READ Mr. Murthy's bio.

 

date   October 6, 2016

CB: "What Do We Do Now About The Honolulu Rail Project?":  

Panos Prevedouros, Cliff Slater and Randy Roth wrote this article for Civil Beat about the future of the rail project. Here is a short excerpt:

"The rational way to approach the rail question begins with three simple questions:

o How much more money would local taxpayers have to pay to construct and maintain a safe and reliable rail system?

o What would be the benefit of having such a system?

o What alternatives could be pursued if we were to stop rail now, and what would be the benefit of those alternatives? Honesty should be presumed only if the factual inquiry and decision-making processes are transparent so the public can see how the answers were reached."   READ MORE

 

date   September 25, 2016

SA's Shapiro: "Rail is headed for the deep after a long, pricey journey":

David Shapiro writes a snippet on rail in his column this week, "Contractors who worked on Oahu rail say the project could end up costing more than $10 billion and take 15 more years to complete to Ala Moana. By the time it’s done, the last leg will be an Atlantis Submarine Adventure."

We wonder how many at the Star Advertiser feel the same way.

 

date   September 19, 2016

Hawaii Free Press today: "Feds: $540M in highway funds can be spent on rail":

Andrew Walden has written an excellent piece in today's Hawaii Free Press detailing how $540 million in Hawaii's Federal Highway funds could be made available to bail out the rail project.

Dr. Prevedouros concurred with that commenting, "The article is accurate. HDOT [Hawaii Department of Transportation] does not want to divert funds for rail but if Governor Ige agrees with Mayor Caldwell and asks, then highway funds can be programmed to assist with rail's road work."

Our view is that in one of the most lane-deficient states in the nation the last thing we should be doing is diverting funds from highways to rail.

 

date   September 18, 2016

S-A op/ed today: "It’s not too late to make right call on rail":

Professors Prevedouros and Roth have a great op/ed in today's Star Advertiser that makes you think through the unthinkable -- stopping the rail dead and turning into a park. You definitely need to READ MORE
 

S-A story today: Kiewit to lose $100 million on rail project?:

This is another  interesting messmanagement story about rail for what it says about the construction labor market and what it says about construction cost forecasting for both HART and Kiewit.

We don't see how either one could not have seen this tight labor market coming. These enormous condos sprouting up in Kaka'ako took a great deal of time to plan and get the necessary zoning changes, all of which is a matter of public record. Kiewit could at least rest easy that they could make it up in change orders but they may have misjudged, as the story discusses, the quality of labor you get when bottom feeding. READ MORE

 

date   September 17, 2016

Why rail to Ala Moana will cost at least $11 billion:

HART says they can build to Middle Street for $6.22 billion while the Mayor implies that it might be a stretch to get to Middle Street for the $6.8 billion in available funding. HART’s total projected cost to get to Ala Moana Center is $8.1 million.

In either case, they are not allowing enough for the final five-mile segment to Ala Moana. If the Mayor is right and it takes $6.8 billion to get to Middle Street that leaves only $1.3 billion to finish it.

However, this final segment is certainly the most challenging one because,

1. It has eight stations, 38 percent of the 21 stations.

2. It has the costly separation of electrical utilities from the rail line, which they have not yet even projected the costs, let               alone actually dealt with the reality of it.

3. It will have to deal with a mile and a half of fill land in those places formerly makai of the old waterfront.

4. It will face heavy concentrations of ‘iwi once it gets into Halekauwila Street.

5. They have to cope with tight urban spaces and they have not had to contend with that so far.

Given all the problems in the final segment it is more likely the final 25 percent of the rail line length to Ala Moana Center will be 35 to 40 percent of the total costs. In that case the total costs would around $11 billion.

Our long-time followers will remember that we never forecast any cost overruns before rail got to Dillingham Boulevard but once we started down Dillingham we thought the costs would morph out of sight; it would be a cost quicksand.

It is obvious to everyone but HART that this puppy will go a lot further north than $8.1 billion. We like the Feds “upper bound” of $10.9. Panos Prevedouros would like to add another billion to that.

 

date   September 9, 2016

Finally: A rail project that is worse than ours:

The California High Speed Rail Project (CHSRP) the controversial high-speed rail system that is supposed to connect California's two largest cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco, via trains running 220 miles an hour is vying for the dubious honor of being the worst rail project in the nation. We thought we had it in the bag but no more. This Weekly Standard article tells in great detail how this project is affecting the residents who live along the route. There are great similarities, cost overruns, enormous cost and an out of control semi-autonomous agency running things.

Their latest problem is that the voters approved it on the basis that revenues would exceed operating costs. In other words pay for itself, other than construction costs. Then along comes the Los Angeles Times, which having filed a freedom-of-information request, revealed that their equivalent of HART had apparently scrubbed from its website a pessimistic assessment by the Spanish rail-construction contractor Ferrovial that the train would never be able to operate without the taxpayer subsidies that the voter-approved Proposition specifically forbids. The Spanish firm had noted in its bid that of 111 high-speed lines that it had looked at around the world, only 3 were financially viable without government aid. READ MORE

 

date   September 6, 2016

What is the ½ percent rail tax costing you each year?

Here's one way for you to know. It is to calculate what it would take in property taxes to fund rail for every year that the ½ GE tax surcharge would be in place.

Last year the rail tax collected $259 million, while total property tax collections were $894 million. If we were to substitute property tax for the ½ percent GE tax, we would need to collect the $894 billion plus the $259 million, or $1,153 million, which would require a 29 percent increase in the property tax you are now paying for the foreseeable future. Now calculate what a 29 percent increase in your property taxes would be. If your property taxes are now $2,500 annually, you would face a $725 increase.

It gives you some idea of the hidden effects are in the insidious General Excise tax and what it is really costing you. This is why the politicians avoid hiking property taxes and settle for the deceptive G.E. Tax.

By the way, tourists indirectly pay a considerable part of the property taxes in the hotel costs they pay; it is most probably the same 17 percent of property taxes that they pay in GE taxes. And all that is just for construction. Once rail begins operating you can add another $100 million annually.

 

date   September 4, 2016

Two good pieces in today's Star Advertiser:

A great column by David Shapiro, who concludes that:

"So after 10 years of deceit, mismanagement and failure, little has changed; Honolulu rail is being built on politics and melodrama instead of sound engineering and honest accounting.

"Cries to stay the course at any price carry a steep cost for the community.

"Our tax base is only so deep, and billions squandered on rail cost overruns are billions lost for addressing homelessness, massive pension debt, decaying infrastructure and climate change." READ MORE

Law Professor Randy Roth has an excellent letter in which he uses HART's own numbers to show that our lawsuit cost less than one-tenth of one percent of rail's projected cost. READ MORE

 

date   August 29, 2016

The case for stopping rail at the Middle Street Transit Center:

We were remiss in not posting this on May 19 when the Star Advertiser published it. Download it here.

 

date   August 18, 2016

HART CEO Dan Grabaukas quits:

We are sorry to see him go. He was a breath of fresh air compared with his predecessors; he lied far less. One of the definitions of lie as defined by the Free Dictionary is "something meant to deceive." The fact that HART often uses the slogan that rail will take 40,000 cars off he road is a deception meant to convince people that rail will have a major effect on traffic congestion. In fact, as you can see from the table below the 40,000 reduction is in the face of a 500,000 increase in car trips because of population growth. The 40,000 is only 1.4% of the total projected car trips; they will not be even noticed.

 

 

date   August 10, 2016

The purpose of our website and how to use it:

The function our website is to be useful to researchers rather than be part of social media. We have over 100GB of material that includes 40GB of FTA internal emails obtained as part of our lawsuit against the City and County of Honolulu.

We have nearly all the legal documents relating to the lawsuit under the "Federal Courts" courts tab. All the state and federal guiding statutes and regulations are under "Process Docs" together with all the  documents relating to the EIS process from start to finish.

At the foot of the column to the left is an archive of  all the entries in this site since November 2004. The single red tab is a media record of the principal media stories 2003-2013.

One of the best ways to use the site is to perform a key word search in the search window combined with the adjacent radio button, "Honolulutraffic.com". You might be surprised at what results from such a search.

 

date   August 9, 2016

The Case for Stopping Rail Dead in its Tracks:

The question we have to ask ourselves is this: A majority of voters supported a $5.3 rail line in 2008. Now a majority oppose what looks like to be a $10 billion project. It appears that we could close out the project now for about a $3.5 billion loss. So the question is this, if you knew back then what you know now, a majority of us would have opposed the $5.3 billion rail project, so why on earth should be support spending $6.5 billion more to finish it. Read the story in full here.

 

date   July 31, 2016

Anti-rail group nominates City for FTA Award of Excellence:

Randy Roth, Cliff Slater, & Panos Prevedours nominate the City of Honolulu (City) and Honolulu Authority Rapid Transportation (HART) for the following, barely believable feats:

1.  Against all odds and at a time of record federal deficits and a slumping local economy, the City and HART somehow managed to extract and divert more than $5 billion in local funds (the upper range of which is still a mystery) and garner FTA support for $1.55 billion in federal funds – all to build an elevated heavy rail system that was out-of-date before construction even began (Antiquated Rail System)!

That's how it starts and to read the whole detailed two pages of the City's "incredible feats" read the pdf file.