formerly The Alliance for Traffic Improvement

Seeking cost effective ways to reduce traffic congestion on Oahu



October 2005


October 27, 2005

Toru! Toru! Toru! The rail epic continues:

       In today’s Council Transportation Committee meeting, City DTS Deputy Director Toru Hamayasu proclaimed his innocence in political matters concerning the replacement of Communications Pacific and the Limtiaco Company as subcontractors to Parsons Brinckerhoff, the prime consultant on the rail project.

       These companies are charging that their replacement was pure politics by the City Administration. The city had Parsons replace the two public relations firms with Community Planning and Engineering, Inc., a member of the American Public Works Association whose share of the public relations work is now $860,000.

       Bruce Coppa, Executive VP of Communications Pacific, testified that Pacific Business News rated his company the #1 public relations firm in Hawaii and they had worked with Parsons before on transportation issues.

       Also testifying was their attorney from the firm of Alston Hunt, who said that the city misused the procurement process. Councilmember Charles Djou commented at the end of the meeting that the matter “certainly raises questions about Parsons, Brinckerhoff’s business practices.”

       At the end of the meeting, officials from Parsons were asked to testify but declined. Subsequently the Council voted to go into Executive Session on the advice of Corporation Counsel because of threatened litigation on the matter.

       Earlier at the meeting, Parsons and the city said they would reveal the scope of the alternatives being studied by way of a mailing and the opening of a website. Public Scoping Meetings will be held about December 13/14 this year.

      We will be hearing more about this shortly. READ MORE: Kitty Lagareta's steamy letter to the Mayor and his response to it.  


October 25, 2005

Clinton adviser on subsidizing cars for the poor:

Writing in the current Washington Monthly, Margy Waller, formerly a domestic adviser in the Clinton-Gore White House, who now writes about transportation and poverty, says that, Subsidizing America's poor commuters "would reward work boost the economy and transform lives." READ MORE


American Society of Civil Engineers' November meeting:
Program: Freeway Stories and News from Honolulu, Hawaii by Dr. Brennon Morioka and from Athens, Greece by Dr. Panos Prevedouros.
Date: Thursday, November 17, 2005 Location: Treetops at Paradise Park, Manoa Valley.
Time: 5:30 p.m. - Social Time 6:30 p.m. - Dinner 7:30 p.m. - Program 9:00 p.m. - Adjourn
Menu: Multi-entree buffet Cost: $22.00 for Hawaii Section members $25.00 for non-section members and guests $11.00 for University of Hawaii at Manoa Student Chapter members Please make checks payable to ASCEHawaii Section and mail to Mike Hunnemann, ASCE Treasurer, c/o KAI Hawaii, 31 N. Pauahi Street, 2nd Floor, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96813, postmarked by Monday, November 14, 2005.
Reservations for the dinner meeting to Mike Hunnemann by Monday, November 14, 2005, by phone at 791-3980, fax at 533-2686 or email at


October 21, 2005

Reason's Poole publishes VEB study:

Reason Foundation's Robert Poole and Ted Balaker released a new study today, "Virtual Exclusive Busways: Improving Urban Transit while relieving congestion." This is what we have been advocating for Honolulu under the name of HOT lanes and HOTways. READ MORE


HOT Lanes to be added to Capital Beltway
On October 19, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) unanimously approved a major proposal to add four toll lanes to 15 miles of the Beltway in Virginia between the American Legion Bridge and the Springfield interchange, according to The Washington Examiner. The four high occupancy toll lanes would be free of charge for vehicles with multiple passengers, but other drivers could pay up to $15 for the length of the lanes. The lanes would be demand-based and could range from $0.25 to $1 per mile, but could jump due to high demand.
COG Transportation Director Ron Kirby stated, "This is the first piece of what could be a much larger high occupancy toll network."
To open availability for federal funding, the approval was necessary and closed the environmental study process that accompanied the project. The toll proposal was designated a clear funding source before being added to the transportation plan. The Virginia Department of Transportation will formalize a contract with Fluor Daniel, a private contractor that will build, operate and finance the toll lanes. The $900 million project could be completed as early 2010. Source: American Highway Users' Alliance, 10/21/05.

October 20, 2005

Honolulutraffic.com was the first to propose VEBs:

As alert readers will remember, for some years we have been proposing that the most efficient way to provide additional highway capacity would be to build reversibile HOT lanes where buses and vanpools would have priority and the remaining space would sold to motorists paying a toll. This does three things. First, dynamically pricing HOT lanes provides a management tool that will result in reliable, fast and uncongested travel for bus riders and those motorists willing to pay a toll. Second, it will remove 25 percent of the current cars from parallel freeways. Third, it raises toll revenues that will pay for half its cost.

It turns out that the part about "buses and vanpools would have priority" was a unique element that we had added after some long discussions with Washington FTA officials in 2002.

Now comes the originator of HOT lanes, Robert Poole, founder of Reason Foundation, touting the virtues of VEBs, Virtual Exclusive Busways, in today's Wall Street Journal. He describes exactly our HOT lanes proposal and how Houston is the first to implement it.  READ MORE

Should we change the name of our proposal? Maybe to Virtual Bus/Rapid Transit? HOT BRT? HOT Skyways? Comments, please.


October 19, 2005

New Highway Users Group holds first public meeting:

First, Brennon Morioka, deputy head of Hawaii DOT will make a presentation, "The People of Hawaii Deserve Better Roads: A Statewide Strategy for Improving Road Infrastructure." A panel consisting of representatives from the General Contractors' Association, Grace Pacific, Cement & Concrete Products Industry, Hawaii Asphalt Paving Industry, and Federal Highways Administration, will discuss the issue.

This presentation by the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance will be next Wednesday, October 26 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the the Honolulu Country Club. The public is welcome. SEE DETAILS


Britain moves closer to a national congestion pricing scheme:

The London Sunday Times reports that more and more British cities are switching to congestion pricing in an effort to combat worsening traffic congestion. They say, "The move heralds the first step towards a national road pricing scheme that could see drivers being charged anything from 2p per mile on quiet roads to £1.34 per mile in congestion hotspots at peak times. Areas considering road pricing include big cities, such as Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle, as well as smaller conurbations, such as Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, and Shrewsbury in Shropshire." READ MORE

October 17, 2005

Seattle Mayor writes Mufi's speech:

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels wrote and delivered a speech last month that could be a great template for the speech that Mayor Mufi will likely be giving a year or two from now:

"Let me begin by saying that this is perhaps the most disappointing day for me since I became mayor nearly four years ago.

"Put simply: The monorail does not have enough money to pay for the project. The financing plan presented to me is not prudent. It relies on a risky assumption that [revenues] will grow faster than expert economists consider reasonable or prudent. You can't solve a real revenue problem with rosy projections.

"... I am canceling the agreement that grants permission for the monorail to use city streets. Exercising my authority to cancel the Transit Way Agreement is the most direct method for preventing this flawed plan from going forward.

"I believe it is our responsibility as elected officials to come together and make the hard decisions necessary to ensure we build the best transportation system possible for the region.

"On my direction, the Seattle Department of Transportation is developing transit alternatives to serve the Ballard and West Seattle corridors. If the monorail is not in Seattle's future, we must find new ways to move people around the city."  Source: Seattle Times, September 17, 2005, page A11.


Portland to get private toll roads

The Oregonian reported on October 12 that, "The State's top transportation official is recommending an Australian company to develop three toll roads in the Portland area."  READ MORE