seeking cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion in Honolulu



August 30, 2007.

FTA to rate projects on traffic congestion reduction:

       It may come as a surprise to many but, up to now, any projected reduction in traffic congestion did not win you any points in the Federal Transit Administration’s rating process for transit projects. That may strike you as counter-intuitive but that is the way it has been.

       That all changes with this latest announcement from FTA that they will now rate new projects, such as the Mayor’s rail line, on traffic congestion reduction. The following are some excerpts from the Federal Register entry. However, until we get legal advice on its ramifications we can only state what is obvious from the document itself:   

       “Relief of congestion is a [NEW] top priority of the Department of Transportation. FTA intends to take account of the degree to which a project is supported by an effective congestion relief strategy including variable pricing.” p. 43350.

       “FTA is proposing to adopt a definition of user benefits that explicitly includes congestion relief benefits to highway users.” p. 43332.

       “One measure that FTA currently intends to consider is the degree to which a project is a part of a significant congestion reduction strategy that incorporates pricing.” p. 43354.   FEDERAL REGISTER

        As City Transportation Director Melvin Kaku explains, "Projects with the purpose of providing roadway mobility for automobiles and commercial vehicles are outside of the authorization of Act 247; therefore, they will not be considered for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project."  READ MORE

       Further, the State does not intend to add capacity to the H-1 freeway as can be seen from the City's  ALTERNATIVES ANALYSIS  (page 3-25), while at the same time plans are being approved for 90,000 new homes on the Ewa plain. It is going to be interesting to see how the FTA rates us on traffic congestion relief.


August 29, 2007.

Parsons Brinckerhoff's I-25 HOT lanes in Denver a success:

      PB are recognized experts in HOT lanes design and development. So it should come as no surprise that they were selected for Denver's !-25 project. However, what was surprising was that they got double what they had projected for riders. Why do they always come up short on ridership projections for buses and rail, then get it right for HOT lanes. Maybe there is a built in bias?  READ MORE  


The Anti-Planner has lessons for Hawaii from Puerto Rico:  

      Randal O'Toole adds to the Puerto Rico story, "If people in Hawaii want to look at a successful transit system in Puerto Rico, skip the Tren Urbano and look for the públicos, or public cars, that range up to 17-passenger vans. These are sometimes described as shared taxis and the operate a lot like airport shuttles in other U.S. cities. Públicos have fixed routes, but they will deviate from those routes for an extra charge."  READ MORE


August 28, 2007.

Jerry Coffee explains the HOT lanes advantage in MidWeek:

      Jerry Coffee has done a really fine job of explaining the advantages of HOT lanes in this week's MidWeek and we have reduced it to a simple pdf file suitable for printing and distribution.  READ AND PRINT


Tom Berg has an excellent op/ed in today's Star-Bulletin:

       Tom is Rep. Cabanilla's office manager and a great believer in our need for new highways. He comments on the change in attitude as we switched our preference in personal transportation from the horse to the auto. He says, "In the days of dependence upon animal transportation for survival, stealing a horse was deemed worthy of severe punishment. So when did our government shift its ideals from hanging horse thieves to deterring automobile ownership and a driver's independence?"   READ MORE


Advertiser op/ed: "Other mega-projects offer cautionary tales"

Today's Advertiser has a great op/ed by someone we have never heard from before, David Johnson, an associate professor sociologist at UH. We will not attempt to summarize his op/ed; it is well worth reading in full. Let's hope he keeps writing.  READ MORE


August 26, 2007.

FHWA publishes an update on HOT lanes/Value pricing:

       The Federal Highways Administration's quarterly report on what is happening around the country in congestion/value pricing makes interesting reading.  READ MORE


August 25, 2007.

City gives $86 million rail planning contract to PB Americas:

       According to the Advertiser, the City has contracted with PB Americas. This is rather strange since there is no mention of "PB Americas" on PB's main website, PBWorld.com.  READ MORE


New Ken Orski Commentary:

       Its title is The Minnesota Bridge Collapse and the Politics of Transportation Financing. It covers the post-collapse squabbles in Congress, and what is likely to be the outcome in highway financing. He defines the fight as between the Conservatives (in the Adam Smith sense) and the Innovators. He believes the Innovators will largely win out and tolling, and public-private partnerships will provide the funding for new highways.  READ MORE


HHUA also urges reform of transportation funding:

       Hawaii's Highway Users Alliance issued a call for reform of funding, planning, design and development of large projects in a statement made two days ago.  READ MORE


Panos Prevedouros on TV:

       Recently, Dr. Panos Prevedouros, UH professor of traffic and transportation engineering, gave a Powerpoint presentation on "Honolulu Traffic Solutions" to the Citizens' Advisory Council of the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization. Dennis Callan video taped it and it will be shown on Olelo, Channel 54, at the following dates and times: 8/29/07 Wed 6:00 pm, 9/5/07 Wed 6:00 pm, 9/12/07 Wed 8:00 am, 9/19/07 Wed 8:30am and on 8/30 and 9/6 at 6:30pm.. Call your friends and have them view it. We had earlier posted this slide presentation but it is without Dr. Prevedouros scintillating commentary. VIEW PRESENTATION


August 23, 2007.

FTA issues notice of intent to fund HOT lanes:

       One of the many areas of disagreement between us and the City has been over the issue of whether HOT lanes can be funded with the FTA’s New Starts funds. The FTA has now issued proposed rulemaking to allow such funding. As is normal in rulemaking there will be a comment period until November 1, and after that we believe the rule will go into effect. The following is an excerpt:

       "In addition, for the purposes of funding design and construction of New Starts and Small Starts, FTA proposes to revise the definition of a ``fixed guideway'' to include projects meeting certain other conditions.

       "FTA is asking for specific comment, under a section entitled ``Additional Discussion Items for Comment'' on this revised definition that would include a transportation facility that, by means of pricing and other enhancements, replicates the benefits of ``free-flow'' conditions for transit users historically achieved by a physically separated right-of-way available solely for transit and high-occupancy vehicles. To make such projects eligible for New Starts or Small Starts funding, FTA proposes to incorporate into the regulatory definition of ``fixed guideway system'' a provision that deems such a facility, subject to certain limitations, to be ``a separate right-of-way reserved for the exclusive use of public transportation.'' The operation of the new provision would be limited strictly to defining eligibility for discretionary funding under New Starts (49 U.S.C. 5309(d)) and Small Starts (49 U.S.C. 5309(e)), and would not alter the definition of ``fixed guideway mile'' for purposes of calculating the distribution of funds under formula programs administered by FTA.

       "The practical effect of amending the definition of ``fixed guideway'' in this way is that it would allow FTA to fund a portion of the construction of high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, on which transit vehicles would run, with money from the Section 5309 Capital Investment program. This has the advantage of providing more flexibility to project sponsors with creative ideas for potentially building cost effective transit projects." (emphasis added)   READ MORE


Honolulu rail may be less energy efficient than bus or auto:

       Thanks to Randal O'Toole's  The Anti-Planner  website we now have a better grasp of energy usage by mode. Check his  master spreadsheet  of data from the National Transit Database and you will be surprised to find that there is little consistency in energy usage by mode. For example, while on average light rail is more energy efficient than buses there are many cities where the opposite is true. Denver, Pittsburgh and San Jose are among them. There is only one modern U.S. elevated rail system and that is Miami and there buses are more energy efficient than rail. Obviously, if our Mayor believes that Honolulu rail will be more energy efficient than TheBus, he will have to show us why. Our morning rail service will be highly peaked in that trains will run full into town and be fairly empty on the return trip — the opposite will be true in the afternoon. This is not the situation in the most efficient rail systems.

       Other important facts that spring out from the data are that ferries are real energy hogs; they use 3-4 times the Btu's per passenger mile than buses or rail; the same is true of Demand Response vehicles such as Handi-Van. On the other hand, the most efficient vehicles are Vanpools, which use less than half that of buses or rail.


August 19, 2007.

WSJ editorial on "inefficient urban transit systems":

      The Wall Street Journal had an excellent editorial yesterday on wasteful Congressional spending. A few quotes: “Some things in politics seem to be inevitable -- and one of them is that any road or bridge tragedy will be followed by an argument to raise the gasoline tax … What's never explained is why the gas-tax revenue they already raise is so poorly spent … these are the same men who played the lead role in the $286 billion 2005 federal highway bill. That's the bill that diverted billions of dollars of gas tax money away from urgent road and bridge projects toward Member earmarks for bike paths, nature trails and inefficient urban transit systems.”   READ MORE


U.S. DOT's Mary Peters joins in on wasteful spending:

       In a recent National Public Radio interview, Mary Peters, U.S. Secretary  of Transportation, also discussed wasteful Congressional earmarks and their impact on the nation's infrastructure. Quote:   "I think Americans would be shocked to learn that only about 60 percent of the gas tax money that they pay today actually goes into highway and bridge construction. Much of it goes in many, many other areas."  READ MORE  


August 16, 2007.

Dr. Prevedouros gave a new Powerpoint presentation to OMPO yesterday:

      This was an excellent presentation that was warmly applauded by the Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization's Citizen's Advisory Council.  VIEW PRESENTATION  


NEW U.S. Department of Energy Transportation Data Book out:

      Once more the DOE confirms that automobiles are more energy efficient than buses on a per passenger mile basis. Rail transit uses 20 percent less energy than automobiles but with the advent of hybrids that difference is likely to disappear over time. The new book also confirms that the most fuel efficient mode of transportation is vanpooling.

      The following table summarizes tables 2.12 & 2.13 from the Data Book. See the full tables here:  TABLE 2.12   TABLE 2.13  


Btus per passenger mile



Personal trucks (SUVs)


Transit buses


Rail transit






August 15, 2007.

Advertiser poll — Tolls are favored:

       Today's Advertiser tells about a recent poll they conducted with SMS Research on residents' attitudes statewide on a number of issues relating to sustainability. From our perspective the most interesting question was one that asked whether people agreed or disagreed with this statement, "Government should fix traffic even if have to pay more tax and tolls." The response was that 51 percent agreed versus 28 percent who disagreed. This was a statewide poll and one would suspect that Neighbor Island respondents would be less likely to favor polls, which means that Oahu only respondents are likely to favor polls to a greater degree.  READ MORE


Another reason why rail may fail:

       Kenneth Orski, author of Innovation Briefs, is a widely respected former Deputy Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration. He begins his latest Commentary, The Changing Nature of the Federal Transit Program, with, "More than a year ago we suggested that the era of multi-billion dollar system-building investments in rail transit is coming to an end." And then discusses what is currently happening with New Starts funding and how it most probably will affect cities like us.  READ MORE  


August 13, 2007.

The City is confusing the issues again ... and again and again:

In this morning's Star Bulletin, Melvin Kaku, the head of the City's Transportation Department says:

    "The opponents of a mass transit system for Honolulu are at it again, using confusion as a delaying tactic. These people, who are always against any form of mass transit, are now claiming to support busways. Interestingly, these are the same people who opposed a busway system several years ago when the city was proposing the Bus Rapid Transit system or BRT." Why the change of heart? Apparently to stall mass transit progress."   READ MORE  

       The facts are that the City's failed 2003 Bus/Rapid Transit (BRT) program contained two elements. First, the Regional BRT bringing bus traffic from the far ends of the Leeward Corridor to Downtown and, second, the In-Town BRT from Downtown to UH and Waikiki.

       We did not at any time oppose the Regional element. On the contrary, in 1990 we had suggested it.  See   PROOF   What we did oppose was the totally crazy idea of dedicating existing general traffic lanes exclusively for buses. For example, the City proposed to use the center two lanes of Kapiolani Boulevard exclusively for buses, which meant that instead of using four lanes in the morning for town-bound traffic there would be only two lanes. That would cut the traffic carrying capacity of Kapiolani in half during the rush hour. The town's entire transportation industry opposed the idea as did anyone with even a smidgin of common sense.  READ MORE  


The City is confusing the issues again:

         Those of you who missed the "informational" session of the Council Transportation Committee last week missed out. In truth, the session was a "misinformational" one with Toru Hamayasu at his best. Confusion, misinformation and obfuscation were the order of the day.

        You can see if for yourself on some video clips provided here.   SEE VIDEOS  

        Compare what you see in these videos with official FTA definitions such as, "A fixed guideway refers to ....  that portion of motor bus service operated on exclusive or controlled rights-of-way." And that the now defunct Bus/Rapid Transit program was to be funded with New Starts fixed-guideway funds.  READ MORE  


August 12, 2007.

City rail process slowing down:

       In April 2005, the AA/DEIS was forecast to be ready in September 2006 and the Final EIS in November 2006. Federal approval of the Final EIS was to be forthcoming in December 2006 leading to other steps until groundbreaking in April 2009. See  SOURCE   

       When the City announced the first Scoping Package in December 2005, the Draft EIS completion was projected to be delayed until May 2007. See   SOURCE 

       Subsequently, the City in March of this year announced a new Scoping effort without giving any plausible reason for ignoring the first Scoping. See  SOURCE 

       The City said that the first Scoping was to satisfy the State’s environmental laws and the second one was to satisfy federal law. However, that is obviously not correct since both Scoping Packages say,

    “The EIS will be prepared to satisfy the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and its implementing regulations and Chapter 343 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes.”

       The second Scoping Package says that the Scoping activities to satisfy Hawaii’s environmental law were done during the first Scoping, but that is not what the City originally intended and the City and the FTA have both refused to explain why the second Scoping was necessary.

       The second Scoping Package also projected further delays in the completion of the Draft EIS with a new date of April/May 2008, with the Final EIS being completed in March 2009.

       The latest announcement from the City talks about the Draft EIS being ready in August 2008, “or possibly earlier.” Today’s Advertiser says it is expected in June 2008. Note that the Draft EIS is slipping already from a schedule that was only issued five months ago.


Summary of dates given above.


Projection Date

Projected Completion of the Draft EIS

Projected Completion of the Final EIS

Original schedule

April 2005

September 2006

November 2006

First Scoping

December 2005

May 2007


Second Scoping

March 2007

April/May 2008

March 2009

Hamayasu to Council Transportation Committee on August 2, 2007.

August 2007

August 2008



       It is becoming obvious that the scheduled groundbreaking in mid-2009 will not be met. As Council Chair Barbara Marshall puts it, in today’s Advertiser, “If breaking ground is a bunch of people with shovels in the middle of a field, I think we will. But as for being prepared to build anything in 2009, I don’t think so.”

       It is also interesting to speculate on the reason for the delays in the completion of the Draft EIS. Obviously, the delays are not being caused by the City but rather the various hoops that the feds are having them jump through. Given some of the outlandish costs the City gave to the HOT lanes (Managed Lanes) alternative and their ridership projections for the rail proposal, this should not be surprising.

       Stay tuned.


August 10, 2007.

Maybe the New York Times gets it:

       The Minneapolis bridge disaster has shaken up a great deal of thinking about pork barrel spending, earmarks and what our transportation spending priorities should be. The NYT seems to be rethinking things as well.

       This from Tuesday's NYT:  "Despite historic highs in transportation spending, the political muscle of lawmakers, rather than dire need, has typically driven where much of the money goes. That has often meant construction of new, politically popular roads and transit projects rather than the mundane work of maintaining the worn-out ones.

       "Further, transportation and engineering experts said, lawmakers have financed a boom in rail construction that, while politically popular, has resulted in expensive transit systems that are not used by a vast majority of American commuters."  READ MORE  


July 28, 2007.

New Denver HOT lanes achieves three times projected usage:

The Rocky Mountain News reports that the year old I-25 HOT lanes are carrying three times as many vehicles during the rush hour as was projected. They quote Reason Foundation's Robert Poole as saying the success would help catapult numerous other HOT lanes projects in at least eight other states.  READ MORE 


July 25, 2007.

Star-Bulletin: Honolulu parking rates up 20 percent in five years:

        Today's Star-Bulletin details the increasing cost of parking downtown; it now averages $209 a month for an unreserved stall in the immediate downtown area.  However, when we allow for the 17.4 percent increase in Honolulu's growth in inflation in the same period that nets out at a real increase of just two percent.

        More interesting is the table showing international parking rates such as London at $1,200 a month, Tokyo $700, Hong Kong $680, New York $630, etc. Since parking costs are the single most important determinant of the transit or auto decision, it is easy to see why commuters in these cities use transit — these cities do not encourage parking. Honolulu, on the other hand enforces minimum amounts of parking for buildings outside of the immediate downtown area, which lowers parking costs to $75 a month on average. Even the downtown area building regulations encourage more parking by not counting parking in the floor area calculations, thus keeping parking prices down.  READ MORE


O'Toole: "Debunking Portland — the city that doesn't work":

If you have any tendency to believe the planners' hype about Portland's light rail and Transit Oriented Developments (TODs), you should visit Portland with O'Toole's latest Cato study in hand. For example, fewer people use transit in Portland today than did before Portland started its billions of dollars of rail binge.  READ MORE


Bus vs. Rail — Some Interesting New Data:

       The idea that bus rapid transit (BRT) is more cost-effective than light rail transit (LRT) has been in circulation for some time, but has been much-disputed. One big problem is that so many types of bus service are included under the heading of BRT that “average” figures on cost and ridership blur many real differences. What’s been needed is an apples vs. apples comparison of high-end, exclusive-busway BRT with LRT.

       Just about the perfect example of such a comparison was presented to a standing-room-only audience at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting inWashington,DC last January. It compares two recent projects inLos Angeles: the BRT Orange Line and the LRT Gold Line. “A Preliminary Evaluation of the Metro Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit Project,” by William Vincent and Lisa Callaghan of the Breakthrough Technologies Institute, can be found at:   FULL STUDY     BOB POOLE’S SUMMARY


July 22, 2007.

Star-Bulletin: Rep. Lee corrected aboutSan Juan rail:

In the July 5 Star-Bulletin, Rep. Marilyn Lee lauded the success of the Tren Urbano rail line inSan Juan, Puerto Rico. In today’s Star-Bulletin, Cliff Slater corrects her misstatements and calls the line “one of the worst disasters inU.S. transit history.” For a full footnoted version of his column  READ MORE


July 20, 2007.

Cliff Slater corrects Williamson's Advertiser op/ed:

John Williamson, senior vice president of public affairs at McNeil Wilson Communications, recently wrote an op/ed for the Advertiser titled, Gas price trend will force commuting change." Cliff writes a rebuttal to show why that is highly unlikely to make much difference and corrects other errors in the op/ed.  READ MORE


Reason's Balaker takes on New York's problems:

Ted Balaker, who wrote The Road More Traveled: Why the Congestion Crisis is More Important than You Think, (a most important book) had an op/ed in the New York Times last week, dealing with New York's congestion problems. As in Honolulu, Balaker says, "New York's congestion problems are caused by "political neglect of the road network." He berates the New York authorities for not installing bypasses. "In cities all over the world and even in the United States, drivers can choose to drive up and over humps called queue jumpers or they can duck under intersections through short tunnels."    READ MORE This op/ed is quite relevant to Honolulu's problems and jibes with Dr. Prevedouros' recommendations.


Texas Gov. Perry — "It's toll roads, slow roads, or no roads.":

         HOUSTON CHRONICLE — Gov. Rick Perry told about 400 attendees at the Texas Legislative Conference on Friday that toll roads may not be popular, but they are the best available alternative.

        "If you have a better idea how to get traffic moving in this state, offer your idea," he said Friday as he picked up the group's "Texan of the Year" award. "We either build toll roads, slow roads or no roads." Perry said many legislators stood with him on building turnpikes until criticism heated up.

        It would take a gasoline tax increase of up to a $1 a gallon to raise the money needed to build highways as quickly as it can be done if they are built as toll roads, he said. And the roads will be needed soon.

        Perry also blasted those who complain "about foreign businesses building our roads. That is a base political appeal that, frankly, cheapens the political debate," he said, pointing to the contributions ofToyota, Nokia and other foreign corporations toTexas.


July 17, 2007.

Hawaii Dealer asks: "Are plans being laid for gridlock?"     

The  on the lead article headline is, Why "Plan" for Traffic Level F? and deals with the complacent way City and State officials just accept traffic gridlock in our future. Level F is another way of saying gridlock.  READ MORE

        Our officials are not paying attention to the new official policy of US DOT as spelled out by  Secretary Mineta:

        "Congestion is one of the single largest threats to our economic prosperity and way of life. Whether it takes the form of trucks stalled in traffic, cargo stuck at overwhelmed seaports, or airplanes circling over crowded airports, congestion is costing America an estimated $200 billion a year.

         Each year, Americans lose 3.7 billion hours and 2.3 billion gallons of fuel sitting in traffic jams and waste $9.4 billion as a result of airline delays. Worse, congestion is affecting the quality of Americans lives by robbing them of time that could be spent with families and friends.

         Congestion is not a fact of life. It is not a scientific mystery, nor is it an uncontrollable force. Congestion results from poor policy choices and a failure to separate solutions that are effective from those that are not. President Bush and I recognize the challenge that congestion poses and the opportunity that we have to do something about it.

        That is why we have launched a new, national initiative to reduce congestion in America. This plan, the National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America's Transportation Network, provides a blueprint for federal, state and local officials to follow as we work together to tackle this growing problem.”  READ THE POLICY


FTA issues "Final Guidance on New Starts":

        While this document (FTA 2007-21172) is quite technical, one paragraph that should be of interest to those who read the small type in these documents is this one:

        "SAFETEA-LU gives FTA the responsibility to ensure that reasonable alternatives are considered in alternative analyses for a project to be eligible for New Starts funding, and that these alternatives are developed in such a "way that their costs, benefits, and impacts can be properly presented to decision makers and stakeholders."   READ MORE


July 16, 2007.

Tampa Tribune: "Drivers Rave About Tollway"

        "It's been a year since the reversible lanes on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway opened to traffic, and transportation authority officials say daily use of the road has far exceeded expectations.

        Talk to those who frequently drive on the reversible lanes, and it becomes obvious why they're so popular. Drivers are more than just appreciative of the road and the time it shaves off the commute between Brandon and Tampa. They're downright enthusiastic.

        "It's probably the best thing that's ever happened here," said LaSchael Parks, who lives in Brandon and travels to Tampa daily to attend evening classes at South University near downtown. "There's no way I'd get there as fast as I do without it."

        When the expressway opened July 18, the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority estimated that 6,000 vehicles would use the road each weekday by October. That prediction was close to reality: 5,989 vehicles traveled the reversible lanes each weekday that month.

        A year later, about 16,000 vehicles pass under the toll gantries on any given weekday, authority spokeswoman Sue Chrzan said. Traffic headed toward Brandon is heavier than westbound traffic, partly because the lanes open eastbound over the weekend, she said."  READ MORE


July 15, 2007.

Ted Balaker takes on US Rep. Fazio on benefits of HOT lanes:

         This is a most interesting TV News video clip to let us understand the demagoguery we face from those who believe that only governments should operate highways — and, we suspect, anything else for that matter. Very worthwhile seeing — you'll need Windows Media Player.  SEE VIDEO           


Environmental Defense lauds PPPs and congestion pricing:

        Environmental Defense, a 500,000 member environmental organization, testified in Congress recently in favor of Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) and variable toll highways. The told Congress, " PPPs and tolls could play a vital role in accelerating this innovation, promoting air quality, public health and greenhouse gas reduction if they are structured right with good public oversight." They also said, "Well designed PPPs have the potential to curb fuel use and emissions, and reduce harm to communities and the environment."

        Their support of HOT lanes and other variably priced highways stems from the fact that on HOT lanes automobiles traveling at optimum speeds emit fewer pollutants and use less energy than those stuck in traffic congestion.



July 12, 2007.

New Reason study — "Why mobility matters to our personal lives":

        In a new policy brief, Reason Foundation's Ted Balaker examines what the ability to get around town quickly means to our professional and personal lives: "The average person can walk about four miles per hour, but cars can easily travel on arterial streets at 30 miles per hour. It’s a substantial increase in speed, but the impact may be even greater than it seems. A person who walks for an hour has access to 50 square miles, but someone who drives at 30 miles per hour for 60 minutes has access to 2,827 square miles. In other words, the driver’s opportunity circle is more than 56 times as large as the walker’s. And when conditions permit, motorists may drive much faster on highways, thus expanding opportunity circles even more...

        Yet, as they have always done, Americans will trade in their cars once a superior form of transportation comes along. Telecommuters already outnumber transit commuters in 27 of the top 50 metro areas, and telecommuting has already partially replaced cars for millions of American workers. And why not? Even with no traffic congestion and nothing but green lights, driving to work will never be as fast as the zero-minute commute that telecommuters enjoy. New technology has given us a new kind of mobility. Armed with cell phones, laptops and PDA’s we can 'be' almost anywhere without crawling into a car, train or plane. But that should not diminish the importance of 'old-fashioned' mobility — moving people, parts, and products across physical space."

The full Study: Why Mobility Matters to Our Personal Lives

Study: Ranking State Highway Systems
Study: How Bad Will Your City's Traffic Be in 2030?


July 11, 2007.

And now a word on transit operating losses:

        Since the capital costs for rail are so incredibly high, we have tended to overlook operating losses. For fiscal year 2005 fare revenues for TheBus only (excluding HandiVan) were $40 million and operating costs were $127 million, leaving losses of $87.2 million (does not include capital costs of buses and transit centers, for example)..

($ millions).


Operating costs


















Source:  National Transit Database

         The City forecasts that the operating losses in 2030 (in 2006 dollars) will be $196 million, more than double the current level of $87.2 million. (Source: Alternatives Analysis Financial Feasibility Report, page 2-3)

        The difference is $110 million a year and if you capitalize that at six percent interest that is close to $2 billion which will fix a lot of sewers, bridges, water mains, and sewage treatment plants.


July 10, 2007.

Hawaii Business Magazine: Rolf and Hamayasu face off

In this month's Hawaii Business Magazine, Toru Hamayasu and Dave Rolf face off in the magazine's SPIN ZONE on the subject "Is rail Oahu's best transit solution?"  Of course, Rolf wins. But   READ MORE  


A thought for the day:

One matter that is not discussed much is the ratio of rail riders to bus riders in American rail cities. If we review the bus:rail ratio of transit riders in only those urbanized areas with rail, we find that on average more than twice as many people use buses as rail — 70 percent using buses versus 30 percent using rail. Only the very largest cities had more rail ridership than buses and the smaller cities much more by bus than rail. You can review the different amounts for each city here: READ MORE  


July 5, 2007.

RAIL TRANSIT: "It's the economy stupid!"

Kailua patriots out celebrating Independence Day with a parade, gave this float loud applause. They really understand that rail transit will stunt our economy while at the same time increasing traffic congestion.

Photo courtesy of Katie O'Donnell                  

July 2, 2007.

FHWA is missing the boat:  

       Earlier this year the Federal Highways Administration harshly criticized Portland's Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) for not planning on more highways. They said, “The plan should allow for highway expansion as a viable alternative. The transportation solution for a large and vibrant metropolitan region like [Portland's metro area] should include additional highway capacity options along with maximizing use of the existing system and land use choices.”  They added, "The plan should acknowledge that automobiles are the preferred mode of transport by the citizens of Portland.. .they vote with their cars everyday."  PORTLAND TRIBUNE  

       We have been waiting in vain for FHWA to criticize Oahu's RTP for the same reason. Our plan forecasts through 2030 and there is not a new stretch of highway in it despite 60,000 new homes being planned for the Ewa plain. We deserve equal treatment from the FHWA; we will complain. READ PLAN