ATI The Alliance for Traffic Improvement

Seeking cost effective ways to reduce traffic congestion on Oahu



[Editor's note: Rail proponents reposition our argument:
In a clever move, our opponents have repositioned our argument that buses on HOT lanes are a better transit option than rail, into a "light" rail vs. highway argument. FACT: Honolulu has 4,200 bus stops; the rail line has just 19 stations. Virtually everyone will have to use buses to get to the rail stations and most likely a bus to get from the destination station to the workplace.
Put another way: With the HOT lanes option, if you live in Mililani, say, you can take an Express bus on the freeway to the Waikele area where the bus gets onto the HOT lanes and starts traveling at 55 mph into town and descends off the HOT lanes onto Nimitz HIghway at Pier 16 where you can be dropped of at various stops downtown. This is a faster option than the 22.5 mph rail, offers fewer transfers, and does not require a tax.
In addition, the space not occupied by buses and vanpools will be occupied by toll paying automobiles. The function of the toll is to manage the traffic by pricing, in the same way that we manage every other scarce resource in life. By varying the price every six minutes, as does the San Diego I-15 tollway, you can keep the HOT lanes free flowing AND full.

HOT lanes, or HOTways, are the answer for Honolulu.

You will often hear that building highways does not work as they just keep filling up with cars. That, of course defies common sense, which tells us that if highways expand at the same rate as travel demand then the prevailing congestion rate will stay the same. The TTI annual study says precisely that. READ THEIR FULL STATEMENT.

The U.S. Department of Transportation favors High Occupancy Tolled lanes, usually referred to as HOT lanes, or HOTways. They are limited access highways that are reversible around midday, offering travel into town in the morning and out in the afternoon. Buses and vanpools have priority and go free, and all other vehicles pay a toll. As on the San Diego I-15 tollway, the toll is collected electronically and the toll price is changed every six minutes to ensure that the HOT lanes are full, but free flowing, at all times. In short, HOT lanes are managed highways since the changing price manages the demand for its use.

The U.S Department of Transportation says, "The HOT lane concept combines managed lanes with variable pricing strategies. As a traffic management tool, it has the potential to help increase the efficiency of some of our most congested urban highway lanes, while maintaining superior travel conditions on the managed lanes to serve transit users, high occupant vehicles (HOVs), and other paying motorists." READ IN CONTEXT

We have suggested that such a two-lane reversible highway be built along the same alignment as the proposed rail transit line. The HOTway would begin around Waikele and end at Pier 16 near Hilo Hattie’s and have three or four entrances/exits at each end.

Tampa, Florida, with a population three times our size is building one and it should open shortly. While it is much larger than what we propose you can see the general idea from this article. READ MORE

Rail proponents often talk of rail as a “high-capacity spine” for Honolulu. It’s a good analogy. However, our body’s spines carry our nerve signals from butt to shoulder whereas most signals are sent from head to toe. And a HOTway is a head-to-toe conveyance. You catch a bus in your neighborhood and the bus goes on the HOTway at uncongested speeds all the way into town and takes you where you want to go. No taking the bus to one end of the spine and then averaging 22.5 mph on the rail line to your destination station before you transfer from the end of the “spine” to a bus and then to your ultimate destination.

And the HOTway does not require a tax increase. The proposed reversible express tollway would cost $1.0 billion and would be eligible for the same $500 million federal funding as a rail system. In addition, $200 million would be raised by selling the future stream of tolls; this is a normal procedure for funding tollways. That leaves a net local funding of $300 million, which, over time, can be handled within existing tax collections.

And, while rail will increase operating subsidies by $56 million annually (the 1992 plan called for $45 million and the $57 million allows for inflation), the HOT lanes approach should cost less than $10 million.