formerly The Alliance for Traffic Improvement

Seeking cost effective ways to reduce traffic congestion on Oahu



September 2005


  September 5, 2005

Brennan was more than just wrong:

The Mayor's press secretary, Bill Brennan, wrote an article for the Advertiser three weeks ago, "Rail enemy doesn't know what he's saying," in which he hammered Cliff Slater for saying the 1992 plan was heavy rail, not light rail. Brennan said, "It was light rail by any industry standard. Ask the real experts. Check the newspaper clippings."

We did better than that we checked the city's website and also the 1992 Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Here's what the city's website says:

       Light rail transit (Or LRT) 1. An electric railway with a "light volume" traffic capacity compared to heavy rail. Light rail may use shared or exclusive rights-of-way, high or low platform loading and multi-car trains or single cars. Also known as "streetcar," "trolley" and "tramway." ) 2. Lightweight passenger rail cars operating singly (or in short, usually two-car trains) on fixed rails in right-of-way that is not separated from other traffic for much of the way. Light rail vehicles are driven electrically with power being drawn from an overhead electric line via a trolley or pantograph 3. Streetcar: urban transit which uses predominantly reserved but not always grade-separated rights-of-way with electrically powered rail vehicles that operate alone or in trains. 4. A rail transit system that can operate on a variety of rights-of-way, from on-street to grade-separated. It typically uses articulated vehicles powered by an overhead electric catenary and connects activity centers within an urbanized area.

       Heavy rail. 1. An electric railway with the capacity for a "heavy" volume of traffic and characterized by exclusive rights-of-way, multi-car trains, high speed and rapid acceleration, sophisticated signaling and high-platform loading. 2. High-speed, passenger rail cars operating singly or in trains of two or more cars on fixed rails in separate rights-of-way from which all other vehicular and pedestrian traffic is excluded. 3. "Rapid rail" transit service using rail cars powered by electricity which is drawn from a third rail and usually operated on exclusive rights-of-way. It generally uses longer trains and has longer spacing between stations than light rail.

       The City's 1992 FEIS, pages G-4 & 5, has the same definitions as does the American Public Transportation Association and the federal government; these are accepted urban transportation definitions.

       The FEIS, page 2.23, also makes it clear that the 1992 trains were to get electricity "from a third rail" and "operate on exclusive rights-of- way."

       Another reminder: When Councilmember Gary Gill got his first look at what they were actually going to get when the spin was all over, he cried, "My God! It's a train. A Godzilla of a train."

       Of course, it was a train. Just like the next one has to be a train.

       Do these City people have no shame at all?


September 4, 2005

OMPO to hold meetings on new transportation plan:

Three regional public meetings will be held to solicit public input that can help identify Oahu Regional Transportation Plan alternatives. These regional meetings will have an open house format starting at 6:30 p.m. with a brief presentation beginning at 7:15 p.m. These meetings are scheduled for:

  • Tuesday, September 13, 2005, McKinley High School Cafeteria, 1039 South King Street
  • Wednesday, September 14, 2005, Kapolei Middle School Cafeteria, 91-5335 Kapolei Parkway
  • Thursday, September 15, 2005, Mililani Mauka Elementary School Cafeteria, 95-1111 Makaikai Street

If you are unable to attend one of these regional meetings, the same information will be presented at a meeting of the OMPO Citizen Advisory Committee. There will be no open house at this meeting; the meeting will start at 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 21, 2005, Mayor’s Conference Room, Honolulu Hale, Room 301. More information is available here.


Katrina: O'Toole says lack of autos an issue:

Thoreau Institute Economist Randal O'Toole in, "Lack of Automobility key to New Orleans tragedy," cites very low auto ownership in that city as a major issue. Some 35 percent of New Orleans' black families do not own automobiles. The New York Times quotes a sociologist there as saying, "Maybe it's just an in-the-face version of something I already knew," he said. "All the people who don't get out, or don't have the resources, or don't believe the warning are African-American."

"The white people got out," declared the New York Times today. But, as the article in the Times makes clear, the people who got out were those with automobiles. The Times quotes one official as saying, "The evacuation plan was really based on people driving out." Those who stayed, regardless of color, were those who lacked autos.  

Check the Thoreau Institute website for this and other articles. However, with titles like, "Is Smart Growth a United Nations Conspiracy?" and "Is Sprawl a Defense Against Terrorism?" it is not for the faint of heart. O'Toole is an original thinker and his writings are well worth a visit.


September 1, 2005

Memory lane reminder: Architects opposed Nimitz rail alignment:

In August 1992, longtime rail transit supporters, the American Institute of Architects, Hawaii Chapter, announced their opposition to an elevated rail line along the waterfront. They said that, "An elevated guideway along Nimitz Highway in downtown would create a physical and psychological barrier between downtown, Chinatown and the harbor. Honolulu Harbor is a special asset and should not be isolated. Few cities can have the heart of their downtown connected to the waterfront as Honolulu has in years past. With the opportunity now at hand to fully re-establish that connection, it would be a major mistake to construct a barrier that will be there for the foreseeable future. Nowhere else is the alignment currently planned along the water's edge. Other cities are removing barriers from their harbors." (Source: Hawaii Architect, August 1992) The article contained their two renderings shown on the blue tabs to the left, "How the rail looks" # 1 and # 2.