seeking cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion in Honolulu




January 31, 2008.


New for our Glossary & Acronyms page:

We thought that our Glossary & Acronyms page was getting a little dull and needed livening up. We start with this definition of TODS and invite our readers to make their own contributions to this page.

"TODS — Transit Oriented Developers’ Subsidies needed to induce people to live in high-density, walkable, vibrant, unlivable neighborhoods, like Chinatown, for example, since most people prefer some peace and quiet where they live."


The Dulles Corridor needs HOT lanes:

The story in Engineering News Record yesterday was about the continuing furor over the imminent cancellation of the Dulles Airport rail extension. One of the Federal Transit Administration’s concerns is whether the tolls from the Dulles toll road would be sufficient to cover the projected losses of the Dulles rail line. Rail passengers would refuse to pay anything close to the full cost of rail so the government intends to cover their losses with highway tolls — which people are willing to pay. There’s a story here. If people will not pay the cost of rail but will pay the cost of highways, what should they do? As the kids say, duh! READ MORE

There is another issue and that is how few people use an airport to town rail link even when it exists. As Chris Walker of the Dulles Corridor Users Group wrote in a story we ran a few days ago, Singapore’s Changi airport is usually the top rated international airport and lacks a rail link. In the US, the top rated airport is Dallas Fort Worth with no rail link." READ MORE


January 28, 2008.

The average light rail line uses more energy than autos:

The chart below from the U.S. Dept. of Energy confirms similar data we have published before but shows it graphically. Bear in mind that the average energy use of automobiles, as actually used in practice with a typical 1.15 people per car, is 3400 Btus per passenger mile according to the U.S. Dept. of Energy. For confirmation see the 2006 DOE Energy Data Book. Table 2.13. The City has its work cut out to persuade us that light rail is more energy efficient than our automobiles.

Light Rail Energy Use


Dulles Corridor Users Group says, "Good riddance":

Chris Walker of the Dulles Corridor Users Group says the cancellation of the rail line from DC to Dulles Airport is the best thing that could happen. In this op/ed he says, "Singapore’s Changi airport is usually the top rated international airport and lacks a rail link. In the US, the top rated airport is Dallas Fort Worth with no rail link. The most convenient downtown access to any American city is via Boston’s Silver Line bus, which has pretty much replaced heavy rail." READ MORE


January 26, 2008.


DC Post: Shanghai citizens revolt against maglev:

Shanghai’s Middle Class Launches Quiet, Meticulous Revolt, Maureen Fan, Washington Post, 1/26/08. — Extension of Maglev opposed - noise pollution, vibrations and possibly dangerous electromagnetic radiation through residential neighborhoods. Fear of retribution from corrupt government officials. “Reject the Maglev” protests are led by homeowners and professionals -- people who may not previously have had much to complain to the government about but whose awareness of their individual rights has grown along with their prosperity. Police, who have routinely put down rural protests by poor farmers, have found it more difficult to intimidate an affluent, educated crowd in a major city. Government blocks websites, turning previously unknown neighbors into close friends and allies comparing notes and strategizing. Proud city officials hope to cement Shanghai’s reputation as the mainland’s most advanced city when train connects two airports and site of 2010 World Expo. “Does China need more maglev trains? Does China really need expensive things?” READ MORE And be sure to see the video of the demonstrations.


January 25, 2008.

Parsons Brinckerhoff settles Big Dig lawsuit:

Parsons Brinckerhoff, the City's consultant for its rail plan, and Bechtel Corp., its partner in Boston's Big Dig will pay $407 million to settle a government lawsuit and avoid criminal charges over the highway tunnel project, part of which collapsed and killed a woman in 2006, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"The settlement agreement, announced Wednesday by state and federal officials, marks the latest dramatic turn in the huge project, which buried a freeway beneath Boston's downtown and took $14.6 billion and more than 15 years to complete.

"A joint venture between Bechtel, the century-old engineering giant based in San Francisco, and Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering company based in New York City, helped design the warren of tunnels and managed their construction. Massachusetts officials sued the venture for shoddy oversight after concrete ceiling panels in one of the tunnels fell onto the roadway and crushed Milena Del Valle on her way to the airport.

"It's clear from the pattern that we saw over a period of time that there was cutting of corners, there was failure to follow up, there was lack of oversight," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said Tuesday. "I think there was a desire to move (the project) along and get it done.

"Under the settlement, the state attorney general and the U.S. attorney in Boston agreed not to file criminal charges over Del Valle's death." READ MORE


DC's Dulles Airport rail extension dying:

Washington Post story: FTA will not fund this $5 billion project without drastic changes that cannot be met. US DOT Secretary Peters and FTA chief Simpson met withVirginia politicians on Capitol Hill to outline “challenges” that disqualifies the project from $900 federal money. More than $140 million has been spent on planning with construction costs constantly escalating. DC’s Metro system is in serious disrepair, is underfunded but has no independent source of funding. FTA's Simpson likened the Dulles expansion to putting a two-room addition onto a house that is falling down. He said, "First, you have to fix the house. They're holding up some of their subway stations with jacks. They're holding other subway stations up with two-by-fours and plywood. I could go on." READ MORE


January 24, 2008.

Council still gets to choose the fixed guideway technology:

Yesterday's vote on the "Transit Expert Panel" resolution confused many voters into believing that any further decisions were out of the Council's hands. That is not the case. While the Panel will choose a technology, the Council can still pass an ordinance to change that decision. That is because the Panel was set up by a Resolution whereas the Council reserved the right to choose the technology by an Ordinance, which trumps a resolution. In addition, the Council still has to vote to spend the money and that is 18 to 24 months away — and that decision trumps everything, as it did the last time around in 1992.

New busway gets FTA's New Starts fixed guideway funds:

We bring this up because the City keeps trying to persuade people that busways cannot get New Starts funds because they are not fixed guideways. The following is from an FTA document and can be read in full using the link below:

"Connecticut: Hartford/New Britain-Hartford Busway: The Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT) is proposing to construct the New Britain-Hartford Busway, an 11-station, 9.4-mile exclusive BRT system operating primarily in an existing and abandoned railroad right-of-way on a new two-way roadway between downtown New Britain and downtown Hartford’s Union Station. The busway would run parallel to Interstate 84 (I-84), the primary transportation link between New Britain, West Hartford, and downtown Hartford. The project’s operating plan calls for a number of bus routes to operate on the Busway, including services that enter and exit the facility to reach destinations well outside of the immediate corridor without the need for a transfer." READ MORE

January 22, 2008.

You are needed to testify to the Council tomorrow, Wednesday:

Your voice is needed tomorrow at 10:00 AM in Council Chambers on the 3rd Floor of City Hall when the full council will be hearing testimony on how to pick the technology for the “Fixed Guideway.” It will be later on the agenda so if you intend to give testimony or just be there, call Bobbie Slater on her cellphone 285-4010 and she will tell you where we are on the agenda.

In December 2006, the Council voted overwhelmingly to reserve the right to pick the transit technology. They were right — they are the elected officials and it is their responsibility.

However, some Councilmembers who favor rail are under pressure from their constituents to go against this project, and so the Mayor has come up with a scheme to get them off the hook — a so called “panel of experts” to do the work for them.

We elected each of the Council members so they could make decisions like this and we must not let them pass the buck. Please show you strong opposition to this shibai tomorrow.

There are two issues: Whether the Council should allow the “Panel of Experts” to select the technology and if there is to be a panel of advisers, who should pick them?

That responsibility of choosing the technology cannot be passed along to out-of-town experts.

  • The majority of the four listed “panel of experts” will not be fromHawaii.
  • They will not have to foot the bill for rail when it comes due.
  • Their children will not be leavingHawaii because they cannot afford to live here.
  • They will not have to live with the environmental blight that this will bring toOahu.
  • It will not have to weigh on their consciences that this is a hugely “un-green” project.
  • The “panel of experts” will not have to see their parks and roadways being left without maintenance because there is no money left after paying for the train.

The buck must stop with the elected officials who have the responsibility to choose the technology.

If the Council wishes to have an Advisory Panel and since the Council is responsible for selecting the technology they obviously also have the responsibility of selecting their own advisers.

The Council must not cave in to the Administration as its proposal would clearly pick the train since three of the four people named are long-time dyed-in-the-wool train guys. They will vote three to one to pick another train guy. The final vote will then be four to one to pick a steel-wheel-on-steel-ail train.

Resolution 07-376, Proposed CD1, FD1 (Djou)

Resolution 07-376, Proposed CD1, FD1 (Admin)

Teleworking's prospects more important than transit:

Back in October we quoted Reason Foundation's Ted Balaker saying, "In some cities like San Diego, Dallas and Phoenix, telecommuters now outnumber public transport commuters. In Oklahoma City telecommuters outnumber transit commuters by nearly five to one."

And we commented, "Of course, with market share for transit slowly declining while ratcheting up for telecommuting, one does not need to ask what the government is encouraging."

The chart here below is further proof of the viability of teleworking/commuting. It is increasing all the time while the percentage of commuters using transit continues to decline.

One would think that if elected officials were to ever think beyond campaign contributions and the next election, they would encourage business to expand telecommuting opportunities.

For example, they could encourage tele-commuting by City and State employees.

They could encourage our high tech industry to stage a Telecommuting Conference where large and small businesses could see the latest advances in technology that make it possible for the increases that we are seeing in telecommuting.

Why high gas prices do not affect driving that much:

Over the last ten years gas and oil only amounted to 10-12 percent of total driving costs. This may well account for how little high gas taxes have impacted European driving habits where they are used to $5-$7 a gallon gas.

John Brizdle's Advertiser letter hits home run:

His letter in today's Advertiser makes an argument that we have not made enough of before — but will now — and that is all the "tolls" you pay after you have rail transit. Here is the letter in its entirety:


The first rail toll you will pay is the increased excise tax on everything you buy — everyone has to pay this toll.

The second rail toll you will pay is spending more time on H-1. Your commute will get longer, and there is no relief in sight for traffic-accident days. Rail will not improve the H-1 bottleneck and will make it 50 percent worse for the morning commute. All H-1 users will pay this toll — commercial vehicles as well as private vehicles.

The next rail toll is the increased bus fare — all bus riders will pay this toll. The operating costs for rail are almost twice what we have now for the bus. Therefore, you can expect all bus riders to pay a minimum of $4 per ride even if they never use the train.

The next rail toll you will pay is fear. Rail stations are magnets for crime.

The next rail toll you will pay is the transfer toll — the time and inconvenience of transferring from the bus, to the station, wait for the train, ride the train, transfer to the bus stop, ride the bus. Then do the same on the return.

Managed lanes will reduce all of these rail tolls — excise taxes, travel time, bus fares, fear and transfers.

John Brizdle
Palolo Valley

January 20, 2008.

Check out our over 400 members at 'Who we are':

Most of our members are listed at the 'Who we are' tab. Unfortunately, many of our members cannot afford to be listed because of professional problems they might encounter with the political establishment. Nevertheless, we are thankful that over 400 members can let their names be used. Check out also The case against rail and consider joining us. Let us know whether we can list your name or whether you would prefer to be a clandestine member.

January 19, 2008.

A big welcome for our new members:

Bill Edwards

Charles DeZurik

David Thompson

Joe Douglas

John Matsuo

Joyce Edwards

Marion Douglas

Robert D. Sumpf

No Comment dept: "Parsons Brinckerhoff To Engineer Toll Road":

"The expansion, with an estimated construction cost of $1 billion, is a flagship project within the RCTC's 10-year construction program. The segment of SR-91 is one of the most congested routes in Southern California. The current average daily traffic of 280,000 vehicles is expected to increase by 60 percent to 70 percent over the next 20 years.

"As the prime consultant on the project, PB is responsible for preparation of a California Department of Transportation project report, traffic engineering, preliminary engineering, and all environmental documentation for the project."

January 17, 2008.

Washington Post — "Federal Qualms Leave Dulles Rail at Risk":

Today's Post discusses the latest problems of the proposed 23-mile rail line from downtown Washington DC to Dulles Airport. It is projected to cost $2.5 billion — less than half that of Honolulu's proposed line. The FTA had approved the Final Environmental Impact Statement in 2005 and in 2006 issued its Record of Decision for the Project. Nevertheless, they are having second thoughts about it.

The Post says, "Federal officials remain skeptical of the plan to extend Metrorail to Dulles International Airport and might reject it, even though their consultants recently found that the proposal meets requirements for full funding, government and project sources said.

Officials with the Federal Transit Administration say they are concerned about the price tag and the specter of another Big Dig, the Boston project built by the same contractor in charge of the Dulles rail line, which took years longer and cost millions more than planned, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the negotiations are sensitive. In addition, the agency has been reluctant to promote large-scale transit projects." READ MORE

REMINDER: Tollroads News is a great resource:

Peter Samuel, head of the company, has a first rate website www.tollroadsnews.com and it is well worth a visit.

Beaverton Round, a Portland TOD, bankrupts a third builder:

This particular TOD (Theology-Oriented Development?) has now bankrupted three builders. The City and State had better be very careful with TODs. There does not seem to be a case where a TOD has not had to have been heavily subsidized by taxpayers.

The Oregonian, Portland's daily newspaper, says, "The Round at Beaverton Central is either ahead of its time or a century too late. Now that the developer is apparently in default on its loan -- the third failing of the 10-year-old, half-finished project -- many wonder whether multistory buildings of retail/office/condominiums were doomed to flop in the suburbs." READ MORE

January 11, 2008.

Council blasts City Administration on lack of transparency:

First, thanks to all our members who showed up and testified.

One would never know it from the newspaper coverage, but yesterday's Transportation Committee hearing nearly turned into a free for all. Ann Kobayashi was so mad she was quivering and Donovan Dela Cruz was practically spitting at Wayne Yoshioka, the new City Director of Transportation, and it was all over the issue of transparency. Yoshioka was saying that the Administration had been very transparent and cooperative with the Council but the Councilmembers were not buying it.

One of the issues was the existence of a Transit Finance Advisory Committee headed by Walter Dods that the Council apparently did not know about; they had not been notified of any agendas, or seen any minutes of meetings.

It also seemed apparent from councilmembers' remarks that the bill approving the Mayor's handpicked 'expert' panel selecting the technology for the fixed guideway has no chance.

On Monday we will let you know when Olelo repeats this meeting. It is a must see.

Can this be the end of the war on the automobile?

Wendell Cox has this story on his blog today:

"Congratulations to Tata of India and its chairman Ratan Tata on the unveiling of their new $2,500 Nano, a small car aimed at reducing the poverty of India and elsewhere by expanding personal mobility. Their important step forward has brought competitive responses from other auto makers, which intend to develop lower cost vehicles.

The connection between affluence and personal mobility is well established. Those who would stand in the way of Indians getting cars (or Chinese, Indonesians or Nigerians) may as well take to the streets to demonstrate for expanding poverty.

The Nano will get 50 miles to the gallon, meaning that it will produce lower greenhouse gas emissions than public transport (transit) per passenger mile in the United States.

U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize, indicated that he was “having nightmares" about the car. One wonders if his nightmares might be different if he lived in Mumbai’s Dharavi slum or one of the many other slums or substandard residential areas that are all too numerous in the developing world.

There is a good reason that it is called the ROAD to prosperity." READ MORE

Bob Lanier and Houston developers revolt against Smart Growth:

Developer Bob Lanier, the former Mayor of Houston, who won office of a platform opposing light rail has now formed a new group of builders and developers to oppose Smart Growth in Houston. The Houston Chronicle said,

"Former Mayor Bob Lanier has joined prominent home builders and developers campaigning to limit new development regulations they believe could threaten Houston's growth.

Lanier's comments are part of a nascent effort to respond to recent city laws and policies, including a high-density development ordinance now being written, that affect the politically powerful real estate industry.

A new organization, Houstonians for Responsible Growth, which has begun the process of registering as a political action committee, is coordinating the campaign, said Ken Hoagland, a political consultant working with the group.

Lanier's involvement came in a letter delivered December 27 to all 14 City Council members and Mayor Bill White. It also was signed by Leo Linbeck Jr., owner of a major local construction company, and Richard Weekly, a prominent developer and home builder.

"We are writing you because of our growing concern that the city is embarking, with the best of intentions, down a path of more extensive planning and regulations, many of which have ill-served cities across our nation," the letter states. READ MORE

Washington Post: Metro deteriorating:

Yesterday's Post carried the following as their opening of a story on Washington's Metro rail line:

Metro's latest performance data confirm what subway riders have been saying for months: Train service is getting worse.

"On-time performance has been declining for the past 17 months; not once did the agency meet its performance benchmark of having 95 percent of all trains run on schedule. On-time performance was worst during the evening rush, when it hovered in the 80 percent range. The steepest drop occurred between July and November, when service disruptions increased 30 percent from the same period the previous year. Deteriorating infrastructure and equipment problems that affect as many as half the rail cars in the 1,070-car fleet are driving up the numbers of breakdowns, delays and disruptions, officials said. The chief culprits were mechanical and door problems.

Riders' chief concern about Metro is its reliability, the expected focus of discussions at a Metro board committee meeting today. The latest data come on the heels of the largest fare and fee increases in Metro's history, which went into effect Sunday. READ MORE

January 7, 2008.

Orski on the coming year in transportation:

Ken Orski, is a former US DOT senior official and highly respected authority on transportation issues. He publishes Innovation Briefs and the occasional newsletter. The following is an excerpt from the one he sent for the New Year:

"Overall, we have found 2007 the most eventful year since we started publication of our newsletter 19 years ago. It was a year marked by the emergence of a serious dialogue about the need to change direction of the nation’s surface transportation program. Such a fundamental program reassessment has not been undertaken since the launching of theInterstate Highway program fifty years ago. Triggering the reassessment has been a confluence of several factors:

First, there has been a new realization that since the completion of the Interstate system several years ago the surface transportation program has been drifting aimlessly without any real sense of purpose or direction;

Second, the impending depletion of the Highway Trust Fund balance and the eroding purchasing power of Trust Fund income have made it necessary to search for additional sources of revenue to meet growing transportation needs;

Third, the bridge collapse inMinneapolis has dramatized the precarious condition of some (but by no means all) transportation facilities and has sent a signal that we need to devote more resources to the maintenance and reconstruction of the nation’s aging transportation infrastructure;

Fourth, growing congestion on the nation’s highways and its adverse impact on personal mobility, truck movements and goods delivery have elevated the challenge of congestion mitigation to a national priority.

Setting the stage for the reassessment, Congress created two congressionally chartered commissions and charged them with developing a plan for restructuring and financing the federal surface transportation program. Adding a sense of timeliness to the Commissions’ mandate has been the approaching expiration (in October 2009) of the current federal surface transportation program authorization. READ MORE

January 6, 2008.

Excellent cartoon Friday from the Star-Bulletin's Corky:

Is it our imaginations, or are potholes, and the general surfaces of our streets and highways just getting worse?

We asked Dale Evans, President of Charley's Taxi, who hears complaints from her drivers on hourly basis, what she is hearing. Dale says that the pothole and street surface quality is the worst she can remember in her 35 years in the taxi and bus business.

We just do not understand how the City and the State can let our highways degenerate into this condition.

January 3, 2008.

REMINDER: Our quotes page is most interesting:

Below are a few examples of what you will find on the 'Quotations' tab:

About rail supporters: “First they say, `It's cheaper.' When you show it costs more, they say, ` It's faster.' When you show it's slower, they say, `It serves more riders.' When you show there are fewer riders, they say, `It brings economic development.' When you show no economic development, they say, `It helps the image.' When you say you don't want to spend that much money on image, they say, `It will solve the pollution problem.' When you show it won't help pollution, they say, finally, `It will take time. You’ll see.” Bob Lanier, before becoming Mayor of Houston quoted in Houston Metropolitan Magazine, November 1990, page 49.

Councilmember Gary Okino in a February 2006 letter to constituents, "City and State officials are working to make fixed rail in Honolulu a reality. Building a rail system will not eliminate today's traffic congestion, but it will provide a convenient and effective alternative for those wishing to bypass highway gridlock in the future. READ MORE

Transportation Secretary Mineta said in a recent press release, “The real solution is not reducing traffic to fit capacity,” Mineta said. “We must expand capacity to handle the growing traffic.” It is really a shame that this advice he is offering about air transportation, he does not offer for surface transportation — certainly the principle is exactly the same. That is, supply = demand when the price is free to follow market forces. READ  MORE

December 30, 2007.

Architects reject elevated rail line:

The American Institute of Architects Honolulu Chapter (AIA Honolulu) has taken a position that rejects the Mayor's plan for an elevated rail line. In a letter sent to the Mayor on Friday, they say,

"AIA Honolulu joins many other community groups in our sentiment that an elevated guideway will create a blight, particularly in our urban environments, and will obstruct otherwise protected mauka/makai view corridors. Not only are elevated alignments the most invasive of the technology options, they are a far more expensive option than at-grade systems. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that of all the fixed transit system mileage built in the U.S. in the past ten years, less than 10% are elevated." READ MORE

December 28, 2007.

Population and bus usage shrink as housing prices rise:

The news yesterday from the Census Bureau is that Hawaii’s population is over 20,000 less than was forecast by the state and used by the City in its ridership forecasts for its rail transit plans. For 2007 over 2006 the population grew at less than half that forecast for the City’s transit plan, 0.4 percent versus 1.1 percent. It would appear that we are heading to the kind of situation we had in the late 1990s when we experienced a significant decline in Honolulu’s population. The DBEDT website at is a good place to review the data. READ MORE

Not helping matters for the City’s plans is that the Census Bureau’s 2006 American Community Survey (also at DBEDT) reveals that commuters using public transportation continued its decline for the period 2000-2006, from 6.3 percent of commuters to 5.4 percent. This decline is in accordance with City data which shows that, relative to population, ridership peaked in 1981 and is presently about 20 percent below that peak even though we have 30 percent more buses in use — with all the accompanying expense. Will the voters ever wake up? READ MORE

December 22, 2007.

New toll road saving time and reducing the corridor's congestion:

Austin, Texas, KLBJ radio, has this story,

    "A study commissioned by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has found the 183-A toll road is creating significant time savings for all drivers, whether they use 183-A or not. The study also found significant reductions in traffic on non-tolled roads, including U.S. 183  and Parmer Lane.

     "In 2004, the average morning rush hour drive time on the non-tolled U.S. 183 from the San Gabriel River to R.M. 620 near Lakeline Mall was 36 minutes. Today, this same trip takes just 19 minutes, a reduction of nearly 50%. Drivers using the 183-A toll road save even more time, cutting the previously 36-minute trip to just 13 minutes, a time savings of more than 60% over 2004. These improvements come despite significant economic growth in the area. For example, the population of Leander has nearly doubled since 2003, rising from 13,846 residents to 26,000."  READ MORE


December 19, 2007.

Shapiro gets the math right in today's Advertiser:

     David Shapiro's regular column, Volcanic Ash, covered the transit financing issue today. Here's an excerpt showing that he understands the problem:

     "Mayor Mufi Hannemann cries that it would cost $1.2 billion to comply with what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency wants, which he says would bankrupt the city on top of the $500 million needed to fix leaky and neglected sewage collection systems in our neighborhoods. That's where it gets confusing: Why would $1.2 billion on sewers bring bankruptcy, while the same officials insist that it's affordable to spend $5 billion on rail transit — at least $3 billion of which would come from O'ahu taxpayers through the half-cent transit excise tax?"  READ MORE 


December 18, 2007.

And now a few words from PB Americas on HOT lanes:

Recently PB Americas helped write the San Francisco Bay Area High-Occupancy/Toll (HOT) Network Study.  Some of the more interesting quotes from that document are:

“High-occupancy/toll (HOT) lanes are a proven concept based on well-established technologies. Individual HOT lane corridors have operated effectively in southernCalifornia since the mid- 1990s. Based on experience inSouthern California and national trends, the California Performance Review conducted in 2005 recognized HOT lanes as a useful tool to address the state’s mobility and infrastructure challenges. Four HOT lane corridor demonstration projects are scheduled to open in the Bay Area by 2013 under existing state legislative authority. The first of these will open on I-680 over the Sunol Grade in 2010. The other demonstration corridors include: I-580 eastbound through the Tri-Valley, and US 101 and State Route 85 inSanta Clara County. A number of other cities in theUS have recently opened HOT lane facilities or plan to do so in the next five years…

A regional network of HOT lanes completed by 2025 can pay for itself over 30 years…

By more efficiently using freeway capacity and thereby reducing congestion, HOT lanes can reduce the cumulative amount of driving time for drivers in the regular, general-purpose lanes as well as those who choose to pay the toll for a faster, more reliable trip. Preliminary analysis suggests the regional HOT network could reduce the amount of freeway driving time (measured in vehicle hours) in the morning peak period by 21 percent in the adjacent general-purpose lanes. Further, by maintaining level of service standards in existing state law, average travel speeds of 54 miles per hour could be maintained in the HOT lanes…

Because HOT lanes reduce congestion and increase travel speeds, they reduce vehicle tailpipe emissions. In particular, preliminary analysis suggests that compared to a regional HOV network, a regional HOT network could reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the morning peak period by about seven percent.” (original emphasis)   READ MORE


And now from Houston "Metros Greatest Hits":

Houston's light rail is unofficially known as the Wham-Bam Tram. With more collisions than any other light rail line, you might say that it really got its name by accident. One accident after another. You'll enjoy this video.


TheBus ridership stats added to Vital Statistics:

     An important data set is annual public transportation ridership over the past 30 years and the trends that can be derived from them. We have taken the official City data that they give to the State ofHawaii for inclusion in the State Data Book. To these data we have addedOahu population, also from the State Data Book, and then calculated bus passengers divided by population, passengers per bus, and passengers per bus mile.

     From all this we find that bus ridership peaked in 1994 and is currently running about ten percent below that peak. Passengers per bus mile peaked in 1984 at 4.5 and the latest in 2005 is 3.1. This along with passengers per bus and passengers divided by population show us that we have had significant increases in bus service and this has prevented ridership from declining ever further than it might have done.

     It is well worth a few minutes to review these data. They will be kept permanently in the Vital Statistics section. READ MORE 


December 17, 2007.

The President comments on highway funding and tolls today:

During a Rotary Club luncheon speech in Fredericksberg, Virginia, President Bush made the following comments on highway funding, “I have instructed Secretary Peters to think about alternative methods of financing highway growth, such as user fees in lieu of, or in combination with, current tax structure. Now why would you do that? Well, if your automobiles are going to get less miles per gallon, then you're going to have to figure out a way to raise the money; and the user fee is a good way to do it. And if you happen to go to a user fee system, one of the interesting things that are being used is differential pricing. In other words, you pay a different price depending upon the day you drive; in other words, a market-oriented system. If one of the things you're concerned about is massive traffic jams on your highways, in and out of your community, then it may make sense to say to somebody, if you're going to ride between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., you pay a higher fee than somebody riding before 9:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. It's congestion pricing. It's worked in some parts of the world. I definitely think we ought to look at it. In other words, what I'm telling you is the funding system is antiquated relative to the challenges we're going to be facing. And so Secretary Peters is a good, smart soul who is looking through different alternatives. It's going to be a tough issue, as you found out locally, and it's going to be a tough issue -- it's hard to getWashington to change sometimes. But we will do our part."


London Times: New study outlines new highways plan:

The Times tells us that, "The study, by Imperial College, London, commissioned by the Royal Automobile Club [equivalent of our AAA] Foundation, recommends that 373 lane miles be added to the strategic road network every year. This is the equivalent of 62 miles of motorway with three lanes in each direction. The Government has approved an average of just over 62 new lane miles a year until 2015. The study, entitled Roads and Reality, also recommends the introduction of road pricing on motorways [freeways] and A roads [main arterials], an idea that the Government has been reluctant to pursue since 1.8 million people signed a petition against it this year."  READ MORE 


December 13, 2007.

Demographia: Public transportation is not so green:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

in grams per passenger mile

Public transport Avg. 233
PT New York 133
PT Outside NY 303
Toyota Prius 147
Hybrid diesel 101
SUVs 443
Avg. 2006 car 307
Source: Demographia, 9/2007.

We ran a story on November 13 about how the energy efficient New York subways, which carry 57 percent of the nation's rail transit traffic, masks the energy inefficiency of most other rail lines. Up to now we have given a free pass to new rail lines as being more energy efficient than autos per passenger mile. However, that is all now in doubt as many of the suburban oriented rail lines turn out to use far more energy per passenger mile than autos.


Now we find, courtesy of Wendell Cox's Demographia website, that the same principle applies to greenhouse gas emissions, . It turns out that New York subways have very low GG emissions per passenger mile and again that masks the high amounts emitted by those transit lines outside of New York. What is most interesting is the very low ratings for the new hybrid diesel cars now being introduced in Europe.  READ MORE  




December 12, 2007.

Heritage study shows Hawaii big gainer in highway funds:

A recent study by the Heritage Foundation's Ron Utt, Restoring Regional Equity to the Federal Highway Trust Fund, shows each state's contributions and receipts to the Federal Highway Trust Fund. During the period 1956-2005, Hawaii received three times what it contributed making it the second largest beneficiary, exceeded only by Alaska.

However, Hawaii has the least amount of urban miles of highways per capita in the nation, which begs the question, where does all the money go?  READ MORE


December 11, 2007.

Oregonian: "Curtail free rides, TriMet says":

Portland's daily, The Oregonian, reports, "TriMet's iconic Fareless Square between downtown and the Lloyd Center has helped put Portland on the national transit map. It also provides a free ride for panhandlers, drug dealers, rowdy gangs, homeless people and drunks, the transit agency's general manager said Friday. The moves come after several highly publicized crimes on the rail line and public complaints from police and politicians such as Bemis about inadequate security on MAX. Last month, a 19-year-old was stabbed at one Gresham MAX station weeks after a 71-year-old man was beaten at another. "  READ MORE


December 10, 2007.

Strange news from Star-Bulletin:

According to this morning’s Star-Bulletin, the Mayor has given the Council a list of 15 potential members of the “technology selection panel that would act as an impartial decision-maker to pick the technology for the city's transit system.”

However, while we are sure these 15 men (no women) are all honorable people, they are all long-in-the-tooth, dyed-in-wool rail guys and there is absolutely no chance that they would pick a bus technology. It is just not in them to do such a thing so it is hardly an "impartial" group.

The Star-Bulletin says the Council is expected to vote on the technology panel plan Wednesday. That is going to be difficult since it is not on the Council’s Agenda and if it is not on the Agenda, they do not get to vote on it. Stay tuned for more on this strange story.   READ MORE 

We hear that the Mayor has put a hold on his 'expert' panel:

Rumor has it that the Mayor cannot muster enough votes in the Council to pass his bill to create an expert panel to pass on the 'fixed guideway' technology. That's really a shame; we were quite looking forward to the brouhaha over that one. This was an effort to shield certain councilmembers from later responsibility for the decision when things went wrong. The community sentiment has been quite clear; we elect you to do the hard work and take the heat over the decisions you make. You don't get to dodge it.