Monday, May 15, 2017

Chris Urmson Reflects On Challenges of Driverless Cars

Chris Urmson reflects on challenges, no-win scenarios and timing of driverless cars is a summary of six important points (written by Chuka Mui in Forbes) that summarize the current state of the art and the future likely path of driverless technology.
  1. There is a lot more chaos on the road than most recognize.
  2. Human intent is the fundamental challenge for driverless cars.
  3. Incremental driver assistance systems will not evolve into driverless cars.
  4. Don’t let the “Trolley Car Problem” [ethics] make the perfect into the enemy of the great.
  5. The “mad rush” is justified.
  6. Deployment will happen “relatively quickly.”
Most articles that cover Transportation as a Service or TaaS including this neglect to address the environmental trade-off... much less need for parking, but much higher VMT and energy use.

Death spiral for cars. By 2030, you probably won’t own one shows possible trends in costs and adoptions, but I think that it is way off the mark.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Bad Things Come in Threes


Bad things come in threes?

Who believes in these things?

Well, life has its way with things...

ONE -- On Saturday, I leave the office, by car, a little after 3 PM, and enter H-1 Freeway at the University Avenue on ramp. I had picked up my car at 7 AM from the dealer after its comprehensive 20,000 service was done.

One mile down the road, at about 3:15 PM, all hell breaks lose all of a sudden. Dashboard becomes orange, and the car self regulates its speed to 10 mph. On the freeway.  Thankfully I am past the Punahou Street on-ramp and thanks to the perennial congestion on that past of the H-1 freeway, almost nobody notices.

Chassis stabilization. (Now that's a warning lost in translation from German)

Drivetrain: Vehicle cannot be restarted (Really? Ever?)

Drive moderately (10 mph is not moderately. It is slug-ly)



Policeman in a big Ford Taurus stops me on Keeaumoku Street as I was limping back to the dealer.  He comes by my window with a smile and a little contempt in his voice.... "Run out of gas, huh?"

But then he sees all the orange flashing decorations on the dashboard... "Nope, I'm limping back to the shop" I said.

Four miles and half an hour later I arrive at the dealer and the service advisor from this morning became all flush with embarrassment because he had released my car earlier this morning all serviced, washed and ready for the next 10,000 trouble free miles... only to be back in less than 10 miles.

I get a free ride home in a better vehicle and about an hour later I get a call.  "An air hose got disconnected. All good now."

The car could actually drive OK with the hose busted, but this small defect was made into a big deal by the on-board computer.  That's the price of progress... all the digital nannies for getting 25 mpg from a 300+ horsepower engine.

TWO: Sunday 9 AM. My son Endie and I walk up our steep street with our bikes to load them on the old Mazda truck to go for a ride in the flat lands (Kapiolani Park is our favorite.)

Bad surprise... Something fell, or someone threw something and cracked the windshield!


It's a small set of cracks, but it can no longer pass safety inspection. Who pays $400 for a new windshield for a 1986 truck valued at $1,500 at best?

Buh humbug... Kidney Car or parts car on Craigslist.

But we loaded the bikes and went bike-riding anyway.

TWO AND A HALF: Sunday 10 AM at Kapiolani Park.

Glorious day for biking. Lots of people and bikers enjoying the park.  We had just finished the back straight of the Honolulu Zoo and ready to make a left down Kapahulu Avenue. But I nearly took a spill.  Front tire suddenly all flat!



There goes our pleasant bike ride. Rode back to the truck with the cracked windshield on the flat tired bike, on the grass for a sweaty and aerobic experience.

... AND THE ANOTHER HALF MAKES THREE: Sunday 12:30 PM.

Our family of four boards the now repaired and fully serviced sedan of Thing One and heads to Kahuku for shrimp.

I wanted the car to "stretch its legs" on the freeway, so I chose the H-1, H-2, Haleiwa route instead of the trans-Koolau route via Kaneohe.

At 1 PM we hit the wall at the Joseph Leong Haleiwa Bypass. The longest and slowest queue I have ever seen at this location.  About half of the progress we made was because others gave up and looped out of the queue.

The five minute trek to Laniakea (Turtle Beach, which causes the congestion) took 50 minutes.

It was slow at Pupukea too. Very slow. Another 10 minutes of delay at the single traffic light by Foodland for a total of one hour extra time to reach Romy's Shrimp Shack where we had to wait 40 minutes in line to order, and another 40 minutes to get the food ready for pick up at around 3:15 PM.

And that's my 24 hours of three bad things.

Thankfully all my first world problems summed up to six or seven hours of delays, a cracked windshield, a bike tire that needs a new tube, and somewhat elevated blood pressure.  It can get a lot worse, so I'll take these and move on!


Saturday, May 6, 2017

Amid Funding Woes, Rail Officials Say Cost of Killing Project Could Be $3B


Quoted in Rick Daysog's story about HART rail not having enough funding.

Rail critics don't dispute the $3 billion shutdown costs – they just say completing the project will cost much more than that [the $3 billion suggested by HART.]

"That's really where the math begins to fall apart," said University of Hawaii Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros.

"You would need $7 billion to $10 billion to get to Ala Moana. ... Even in the worst-case scenario of abandoning the trains, the fixed guideway could still be used for a bus rapid transit system."

Off camera I offered this commentary:

We need to ignore the drama by mayor Caldwell and the hysteria of council member Pine. The rail has GET funding to 2027 and the ability to float bonds for emergency cash. They are crying wolf to take advantage of the fact that the local economy is booming.

What do you mean they need to satisfy the FTA? The FTA is co-responsible for this massive failure. They need to be sued, not appeased.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Hawaii Preparation for North Korea Nuke Attack far from Complete

Please to see Fox News reporter Malia Zimmerman and be part of her on-site research for this important story.

“The worst thing people can do is to take the freeway. They should shelter in place nearby,” said Panos Prevedouros, a world-renowned transit expert and professor of engineering at the University of Hawaii.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dumb and Dumber: Why Honolulu Should Abandon Rail

Quoted in Dr. Randy Roth's and Cliff Slater's opinion in Honolulu Civil Beat: Dumb and Dumber: Why Honolulu Should Abandon Rail.

The city tells us that rail can be taken all the way to Ala Moana Center for $10 billion. Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the University of Hawaii Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, forecasts $13 billion.
If you believe the city, that additional cost of not stopping now would be $6 billion.  If you believe Dr. Prevedouros, it would be $9 billion. All to get a 1 percent traffic reduction?
I like their conclusion:
It is dumb to be out of pocket $4 billion and have nothing worthwhile to show for it. It is even dumber to spend another $6 billion to $9 billion for a 1 percent improvement in traffic at an annual financial cost of $130 million and permanent harm to our environment. That’s really dumb.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Businesses Worried as Emergency Repair Work Begins on Pensacola Street



Quoted on KHON Elyssa Arevalo's story on emergency culvert lanes that reduce street width from 3 or 4 lanes down to one...

According to Panos Prevedouros, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Hawaii, “they should have a minimum life of 30 years, not much maintenance, but anywhere between 30 and 50 years, they ought to be replaced.”

Prevedouros says there could be more culverts nearby that will eventually need repairs.

“Some of them are susceptible because Kakaako part of the time it’s under the water horizon [water table], so a lot of them are under conditions that they lead to deterioration, faster deterioration,” he said.

Red Light Cameras Could Soon Be a Reality in Hawaii, but Major Concerns Remain


On April 7, KHON's Alexander Zannes reported on the proposed red light camera law to be enacted in Hawaii. I'm quoted as follows in his report.

Panos Prevedouros, Chair of the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UH says a typical yellow light is three seconds, followed by a full second of red. “But some places they allow you to take the three seconds but then once the extra second of all red comes up they give you a ticket, which is by engineering standard illegal so the possibility of cheating is very much there.”

According to AAA most red light camera studies do show reductions in traffic crashes, cutting down on t-bone type crashes.

But to go with that reduction, comes a rise in rear end collisions, and Prevodouros says the cameras don’t affect accidents caused by distracted driving, or people that are intoxicated. “So no matter how many threats you put with red light camera etc. that’s not going to solve it because at that time you’re not paying attention.”


Friday, April 7, 2017

City draws the line to thwart speedsters along busy Aiea road

Quoted in a story by Alexander Zannes in the Channel 2 News (KHON2) on narrower lanes for neighborhood streets, as follows.

Panos Prevedouros, chair of the Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii says is a proven method to reduce speed, “In general I will tell you that if it is a neighborhood street, narrow lanes to a point are actually good at controlling the speed, again you have to be careful of wiggle room and having sideswipes if they overdo it.”


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

State reviewing procedures after fiery Atlanta bridge collapse


Interviewed for Hawaii News Now story on State reviewing procedures after fiery Atlanta bridge collapse by Allison Blair.
  • "The hodgepodge of activity that we have under the freeway overpass, it's not appropriate," said Panos Prevedouros, Chairman of the U.H. Civil Engineering Department
  • Prevedouros says the combination of trash, vehicles, tires and tanks could be disastrous if fire broke out.
  • In 2016, firefighters responded to seven rubbish fires in the area. Fire department officials say all were small, with no damage or serious injuries reported. 
  • "It takes a really long time. A five minute fire cannot bring a bridge down," said Prevedouros.
  • But a fire burning at an extremely high temperature, for an extended period of time, can weaken the metal rebar that supports the concrete and cause a collapse. Prevedouros says its rare, but it's also why you shouldn't store a lot of combustible material underneath the viaduct.
  • Hawaii News Now asked Prevedouros if what happened in Atlanta could happen here, with the viaduct in its current state. Prevedouros said "potentially."
  • The fire department doesn't inspect state property, but said it would provide recommendations to the Department of Transportation if it was asked to.
  • Transportation department officials declined to be interviewed for this story but said bridge inspections happen every two years, and that inspectors will be reminded to check for combustible materials. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

In this episode of Moving Hawaii Forward, Tim Apicella welcomes Dr. Panos Prevedouros, Professor of Transportation and Chairman of the Civil Engineering Department of the University of Hawaii (UH Manoa), to cover a variety of topics ranging from the Honolulu rail boondoggle, Hoopili traffic impacts, smart city street intersections and rapid transit.



Being Hyptonized by HART? Transportation Insights with Panos Prevedouros

Friday, March 17, 2017

HART on Fox News

I was included in the Fox News story featured today (March 17, 2017) about Honolulu's rail project.

"Honolulu's rail transit project is years behind schedule and billions over budget;" William La Jeunesse reports from Hawaii...

Troubled transit project a taxpayer boondoggle in paradise?



There is another, longer version that includes Pres. Trump:

How your tax dollars are being wasted on a railway in Hawaii

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vehicle Taxation by Mileage -- California Simulation

At a recent ASCE* web discussion board the subject was VMT taxation which is scheme where the usage of roads (mileage or Vehicle Miles of Travel or VMT) is used as a base to collect highway taxes in addition to or instead of the fuel taxes.

I'll discuss the pros and cons at another time. There are many and quite complicated pros and cons because of the means and technologies involved, the rates involved and of course the "big brother" syndrome, all which open a Pandora's box of social, political and taxation implications.

Meanwhile a user on the board posted a number of interesting pictures of his simulated VMT highway tax collection along with a sample bill, as shown below.






Clearly, the system knows the driver's exact route, his speed compliance and provides ratings for his braking and cornering performance. Too much info in the hands of the government, right?

In California they still exempt electric vehicles from taxes, but part of the the VMT tax justification is to address the disparity of EVs using highways but paying no fuel tax. This is another controversy.

An overarching question is this: Is a complex system for VMT tax collection and the necessary big government behind its oversight and administration worth it? How much of the extra taxes will actually wind up spent of highway maintenance and improvement?


(*) American Society of Civil Engineers 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

2017 Honolulu Rail: Advice to the Legislature

As the Hawaii Legislature is debating yet another round of requests by the "on time and on budget but no accountability in sight" mayor of Honolulu to extend the General Excise Tax Surcharge for rail, I offer these comments:
  • The best option since the expected costs for rail's construction surpassed $7 billion was to stop and demolish it. But that's a political non starter for the current regime.
  • The second best option to avoid a $10+ billion dollar hole is to stop the rail at Middle Street. This should be doable at a cost of about $8 billion. The Middle St. station is at the intermodal center of Honolulu, thus rail can seamlessly connect to a BRT circulator (Kalihi, Chinatown, downtown), and express buses to UH and Waikiki.
  • The recently floated Middle Street to UH on-street light rail option will get us past a $15 billion cost and will result in heavy in-town congestion and many accidents. In some places, the lane loss will be severe because of the need for space for stations. Honolulu is the most lane deficient city over one million population in the U.S. (e.g., lane miles per capita).
  • A rail system cannot operate without a rail yard. Mayor Mufi Hannemann started the rail out west because he could not find space for an in-town rail yard. Where's the space for a light rail yard anywhere between Middle St. and UH? We can't put it at Middle Street because the revised sea level rise and tsunami exposure maps have placed it inside an inundation zone.
  • Very few commuters will choose the proposed on-street light rail in town because car, taxi and Uber is door to door service and over twice as fast. Note that the rail EIS clearly states that in year 2030 with rail, all trips between Aiea and Ala Moana  will be faster by car than by rail. I should add that there is nothing that light rail will do in town that BRT would not do better with more flexibility, and cheaper.
The Legislature should not approve any extensions of the GET and it should pass a bill directing the city to handle current and future deficits with its own resources. This offers hope for some accountability and cost containment. The Legislature should also reduce the state share of the GET from 10% to 2%. These are the only reasonable actions by politicians who claim that care for the people.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

2015 Traffic Accident Map of Honolulu

This is an interesting and useful result of an unofficial public-private partnership where the City and County of Honolulu provided a database of redacted accident records with geographic identification data and a private firm used geographic information system (GIS) expertise to provide a depiction and summary of these data by location. The 2015 Traffic Accident Map of Honolulu by the Law firm of Davis Levin Livingston lets one quickly identify traffic black spots.


For example, the portion of their map I captured above shows that the University of Hawaii area is generally light in crashes. Punahou Street near the freeway has a moderate amount of crashes. The set of blocks surrounding and including Ala Moana Cednter, one of the nation's largest shopping centers, is by far Hawaii's largest black spot, although, I guestimate that most of the reported crashes there are of low severity and the area depicted is of relatively low risk.

One must keep in mind , that high accident spots are not necessarily high risk or high danger spots. As you'd expect, locations with high traffic are also high crash and accident spots. Only if we divide the number of crashes by the amount of traffic occurring in a typical day we can get a better representation of risk.

For example, Location A has recorded 1 crash and gets an average daily traffic (ADT) of 10,000 whereas location B has recorded 8 crashes and gets an average daily traffic (ADT) of 100,000. In this case, B has a higher number of crashes but A has a relatively higher risk for crashes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Center for Transportation Safety Equity for Rural, Isolated, Tribal and Indigenous Communities


UH-Manoa in collaboration with the universities of Alaska, Idaho and Washington was successful in receiving a 5-year Tier-1 University Transportation Center (UTC) from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Only 36 out of more than 400 proposals were successful.

UH's research budget share is $1.6 million over five years. The focus of the research is on Transportation Safety Equity for Rural, Isolated, Tribal and Indigenous Communities. The principal research investigators are Dr. Guohui Zhang and Dr. Panos Prevedouros.


The purpose of the UTCs is to conduct research that directly supports the priorities of the U.S. DOT to promote the safe, efficient and environmentally sound movement of good and people.  UTCs work with regional, state, local and tribal transportation agencies to help find solutions to challenges that directly impact their communities and affect the efficiency of the nation’s transportation system.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Brief Trump Presidency Forecast


It's about two months before Donald Trump becomes the 45th president of the US. Here's my forecast for his presidency.

Trump will be full of surprises. Folks who adhere to “traditional values” and have no love for Hillary and Obama will be disappointed. Other than appointing one or two fairly conservative Supreme Court judges, I don’t think that he will do much about changing the status of issues that liberals hold dear such as abortion and gay marriage. (But there can be future implications, as with any conservative or liberal leaning court.)

Trump is basically a real world-based businessman and deal-maker, a New York City "lite-liberal" with soft Christian values. He’ll show a high preference for government investment in infrastructure and low preference for government-centered money redistribution schemes like entitlements and ObamaCare. 

Trump will be more US-focused rather than tackle global issues. More so if an economic recession hits, which is almost certain to occur in the next four years. He will attempt regulatory changes, especially in the energy, transportation and heavy industry sectors. Many will have negative implications to pollution but positive implications to domestic economy and employment.

Trump's biggest challenges will be managing the defense budget and the interest on the massive national debt vis-à-vis his ambitions for job creation and the Congress’ funding preferences. Pentagon may wind up being on the losing end. I doubt that Trump will push for a tax overhaul, although he may attempt one.

Two areas of Trump's inflammatory campaign rhetoric that will be subject to some sort of action are Islam-related and the wall between the US and Mexico. Islam-targeted (re)action is very likely if he is provoked by international or terrorism events; this is almost inevitable.  Some form of the wall will happen, mostly as an expansion of the existing portions; see below. The deportation of illegal residents will see a boost, mostly targeting criminals, human traffickers and drug operatives. (Many states want their domestic marijuana production and dispensation to succeed.)



Thursday, November 17, 2016

UH engineer: Speedier Traffic Lights Could Alleviate Congestion

Thanks to Jim Mendoza for covering the improvement of traffic signals yesterday on Hawaii News Now. Jim and Alan came to the intersection of Dole St. and University Ave. where I was with my 36 students in CEE 462: Traffic Engineering. 

Pleased to see it trending as a popular story: UH engineer: Speedier traffic lights could alleviate congestion


Monday, November 7, 2016

Better Ways to Fix Traffic on Oahu

Many thanks to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and Aaron Lief for this great summary of my recent presentation on traffic solutions for Oahu: Better Ways to Fix Traffic on Oahu.



Thursday, October 20, 2016

55 All Around

55 year old driver driving his car through the 55,000 mile mark at 55 mph in a 55 mph speed zone at 1:55 pm. It took a bit of engineering and planning to get all these done legally and safely on I-55*!
* Alas, there's no I-55 in Honolulu, so I did it on the H-3 Fwy.


New Commuting Data: Same Old Trends

The informative summary below was developed by Robert Poole at the Reason Foundation.
---------------

Last month brought the release of the 2015 American Community Survey data from the U.S. Census. The data on commuting from ACS are generally accepted as the most-representative national-average figures. And what is most notable about these latest numbers is how little change they reveal, compared with their counterparts over the past decade.

Commuting expert Steve Polzin of the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida posted an excellent summary, with 10-year graphs, on Planetizen.

Most of the commuting mode-share data show very little change over the decade from 2005 through 2015. Drive-alone remains the choice of slightly over three-fourths of all commuters (76.6%), with virtually no change over this time period. Interestingly, nearly as many millennials (age 20-24) drive alone (72.5%), despite all you read about them being new urbanists who walk, bike, or use transit.

The two most significant trends over the decade are the continuing decline in carpooling and the ongoing increase in telecommuting. Despite all the guff about the sharing economy and future "mobility as a service," there is no sign of this so far in terms of increased willingness to share rides with others; carpooling is down to 9.0%, from nearly 11% a decade ago (and from just under 20% in 1980). Telecommuting has increased from about 3.4% in 2005 to 4.6% in 2015 and seems to be catching up with transit's mode share of 5.2%. Biking (0.6%) and walking (2.8%) are largely flat over the decade.

Polzin notes that average commuting time (heavily influenced by the drive-alone super-majority) is now 26.4 minutes, up from 25.1 minutes a decade ago. But he also provides some useful perspective by comparing the 2005 U.S. figure with average 2005 commute times in other OECD member countries—e.g., 33 minutes in Spain, 36 minutes in France, 40 minutes in Belgium, 45 minutes in Germany, and 46 minutes in the U.K. These countries all have a higher transit mode share than the United States, and since transit trips generally take longer than driving trips, that may help to explain the difference between the U.S. numbers and Europe's.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Honolulu Rail: From $4.6 B to $8.6 B In Eight Years. Now What?

My article "Honolulu Rail: From $4.6 B to $8.6 B In Eight Years. Now What?" with Cliff Slater and Randall Roth was published in New Geography, a national urban issues and news website.

With its official cost now having risen to $8.6 billion and a funding gap of $1.8 billion, both of which are certain to rise, Honolulu’s rail project will run out of money before construction reaches the downtown area, perhaps even before it reaches Middle Street.
The Federal Transit Administration says it will demand a return of all federal money if rail does not reach Ala Moana Center, which is possible only if the state Legislature or Honolulu City Council increase taxes dramatically:  An average family of five would have to pay more than $1,000 per year just to complete rail, according to the Tax Foundation of Hawaii. Once completed, the annual cost of operating and maintaining a safe and reliable rail system would require comparable tax payments each year for the lifetime of the rail system.
State and city lawmakers are reluctant to raise taxes so dramatically, but abandoning the project at this late date would make those who had been supporting it look like idiots.  They must be asking themselves, “How did we get ourselves into this mess?”

Monday, October 3, 2016

Federal Funds Will Help State Conduct Study on New Ferries

Kevin Dayon reports in his article Federal funds will help state conduct study on new ferries in the Honolulu Star Advertiser that "The U.S. Maritime Administration has agreed to help finance a feasibility study for establishing a publicly financed Hawaii ferry service, a plan that may reignite public debate over one of Hawaii’s hot-button transportation and environmental issues."

I was quoted in the article as follows:

Honolulu established a ferry dubbed TheBoat in 2007 that ran between Kalaeloa and Aloha Tower during former Mayor Mufi Hannemann’s administration, but the city scrapped the effort in 2009. That ferry ran at about 30 percent of its 149-passenger capacity.

Prevedouros said the door-to-door travel times for TheBoat* were long, including the time needed to get to the docks to board the vessel, and to get from the docks to the passengers’ final destinations. The small boats used for the service were also unreliable, and provided a bumpy ride, he said.

“The people were not pleased with the whole experience, and the passengers never showed up,” he said. “Unless you really have a very good, stable and very fast boat, you’re going to have issues with travel times.”

Prevedouros is more optimistic about interisland ferry service, which he calls “a necessity” for an island state. The Superferry was popular with the public, and the community lost out when it was forced out of business by litigation, he said.

It is unlikely any private investor will want to invest in a ferry in Hawaii now, and publicly run enterprises in Hawaii tend to be expensive, he said. “I don’t like public systems in Hawaii,” he said. “Like everything that we touch, it becomes double and triple the cost.”

In a 2008 comprehensive study of commuting alternatives for Honolulu we estimated that the cost of removing one peak hour commuter from the traffic for 20 years was about $4 million for TheRail, about $1 million for TheBoat and about $80,000 for an express toll lane.

Below is an example of a high people and vehicle capacity vessel operating between the Greek Islands in the Aegean Sea:


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Honolulu Star Advertiser: Road Woes Roll On


I was quoted extensively in the headline article Road Woes Roll On of the September 28, 2016 edition of the Honolulu Star Advertiser, the main newspaper in the state of Hawaii.

The latest Reason report found that Hawaii, with the nation’s smallest state-run road network at 1,016 miles, in 2013 spent about 2-1/2 times the national average in total costs per mile: $405,269.

Despite that heavy spending, the report further found Hawaii’s roads to be the worst in the U.S. for urban pavement conditions.

Unfortunately, it’s the worst of both worlds. We overpay and we under-receive,” said Panos Prevedouros, who heads the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Department.

The statistics are reliable because these are self-reported numbers. They don’t paint a good picture for us,” added Prevedouros, who specializes in transportation.

...

Having the nation’s smallest road network also helps drive up the state’s average cost per mile, he said.

Prevedouros agreed.

“It’s like a small apartment and a big apartment — they still have the same appliances,” he said Monday, making a comparison to state road networks and the agencies that must maintain them.

It’s impossible for us to be at the top” of Reason’s list, Prevedouros said. But “there is a lot of room for improvement.

Hawaii might face some unique challenges, but it also avoids problems faced by mainland states, such as heavy interstate travel, Prevedouros said.

...

“The administration now is making significant improvements to make the maintenance better,” Sakahara said, adding that policy could lead to better grades in subsequent annual Reason reports for the Ige years.

Prevedouros said he believed the policy “may make the numbers even worse.”

Without adding more highway capacity, the state’s congestion grades for the Reason reports will likely worsen, he said.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Getting out of Gridlock: Should UH Start Later?

Last week Jim Mendoza of Hawaii News Now developed the story Getting Out of Gridlock: Should UH start later?

Traffic planners believe if UH started school at 9 a.m. instead of 7:30, 5,000 cars could be eliminated from the morning rush.  Students don't balk at the idea. "I can see it possibly alleviating some traffic," Ioane Goodhue said.

But UH communications director Dan Meisenzahl said that many students who start at 9 a.m. or later come to campus early anyway to find parking and eliminating early classes wouldn't change that.

In other words, he provided a reason to not look further into this.  But his statement is wrong.

First of all, many of the students who do not have permits come very early, park and go back to sleep or study in their car. But they are only 20% of the traffic-to-town generated by the UH.

UH-Manoa, HCC and KCC, that is, UH's three main campuses inside Honolulu, have a combined parking capacity of over 10,000 stalls of which at least 8,000 are assigned to annual or semester permit holders consisting of faculty, staff, seniors and graduate students.

Say half of those 8,000+ cats come from places west (Ewa) of Kalihi Street. If most of them arrive during the 6:00 to 8:00 AM rush, then these cars need a whole freeway lane to themselves.

As a result, when the UH is not in session, this lane goes back to non-UH traffic and congestion levels are markedly lower.

Another important point is this scientific finding: "Scientists have found that current school and university start times are damaging the learning and health of students. Drawing on the latest sleep research, the authors conclude students start times should be 8:30 or later at age 10; 10:00 or later at 16; and 11:00 or later at 18."

An additional advantage is that if UH started at 9:30 AM, it would be easier for its professors and lecturers to offer late afternoon and evening classes that working people can take. Now most of the classes are over by 3:30 PM.




Thursday, September 22, 2016

Traffic Expert: Honolulu Ideal for Driverless Vehicles

I, the traffic engineer, should be more careful with these driverless cars... if they become all knowing, autonomous and self-managing, they will need no drivers. And cities will need no traffic engineers ;)
Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the University of Hawaii's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, agrees that Honolulu is ideal for driver-less cars.
"Not only because of congestion but because we're really not an interstate state. Our speeds everywhere are modest to low. That makes the risk quite lower than Montana," he said.
...
The federal government believes automated vehicles will make roads safer and reduce gridlock.
But Prevedouros said self-driving cars could initially slow down traffic.
"In the future they can be aggressive. In other words, they can be tailgating each other to save a lot of space. But in the early stages this is not going to happen," he said.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Not Too Late to Make the Right Decision on Rail

By Panos Prevedouros and Randall Roth
Panos Prevedouros is a Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa where Randall Roth is a professor on the law faculty.

The Federal Transit Administration says it will demand its money back if rail does not reach Ala Moana Center.  Rather than view this as the beginning of a negotiation, both mayoral candidates used it as leverage to convince voters that the city has no viable option other than to find the additional billions needed to satisfy the FTA. 
Fortunately neither the FTA nor the winner of the mayoral election will decide rail’s fate.  The members of the state legislature and the city council will decide whether to raise taxes enough to cover the cost.
Assuming these decision-makers approach their task logically, they will begin by addressing four questions: (1) How much more money would be needed to finish rail? (2) Where would that money come from? (3) What would be accomplished? And (4) What could be accomplished if the same amount of money was spent on something else, instead of rail? 
If they approach this with open minds, we believe that they will reach the following conclusions:  
  1. Another $5.75 billion, over and above the non-recoverable $3.5 billion already spent, will be needed to reach Ala Moana Center (i.e., total construction costs of $10.8 billion, less $3.5 billion already spent or irretrievably committed, less $1.55 billion federal money yields $5.75 billion);
  2. The chances of getting an additional federal grant for rail are virtually nonexistent;
  3. It is unrealistic to expect the private sector to provide more than an insignificant portion of the needed $5.75 billion;
  4. The bulk of the new money will have to come from local residents, who will have to pay an average of $200 per person ($800 for each family of four) every year until construction ends;
  5. The rest—roughly 15% of $5.75 billion—will come from tourists or other non-residents;
  6. After construction ends, each family of four will continue to pay an average of $800 per year, to cover the annual cost of operating and maintaining a safe and reliable rail system; and
  7. Traffic congestion will be much worse when rail becomes fully operational than it is right now.
Anyone who questions this last statement should see the Final Environmental Impact Study in which the city admits, "traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail."
Other ways to spend the money:  Working together, the city and state can reduce traffic congestion, for example, by aggressively adding new traffic lanes to existing roads, as has already been done successfully on each side of the central part of H-1 Freeway; by installing flyovers and bypasses in chokepoint areas like the Middle Street merge; and by adding new contra-flow and bus-on-shoulder options.  Each is a proven strategy that, unlike rail, would directly benefit all commuters.
Equally important, the city could afford to greatly improve its award-winning bus system.  This might include increasing the number of express buses that go where commuters want to go, rather than eliminating most of them as is part of the rail plan.  
All of the above could easily be done for less than half of the money that would be saved by pulling the plug on rail now.  The legislature and city council could spend the rest on other areas of need, such as a comprehensive homeless plan, heat mitigation and other improvement for our schools, sewer and road repairs … or simply leave it in the pockets of island residents. 
The existing guideway could be modified for walking, biking, and other community activities, and provide unique views of the island.  The High Line in New York is a wildly popular public park built on an abandoned rail line above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side.  While no one would set out to spend $3.5 billion for a High Line trail/park in Hawaii, it could become a tourist attraction. 
And last but not least, twenty years from now traditional mass transit will be functionally and technologically obsolete for cities like Honolulu thanks to autonomous vehicles and ride-hailing apps. Who’s the future of urban transportation: Apple, Google and Uber or Caldwell, FTA and HART?
===============
We appreciate that The Star Advertiser published our article and KSSK's Michael W Perry posted it with the remark "Must Read: Great Article About Rail!"

Notice our concluding sentence: Who’s the future of urban transportation: Apple, Google and Uber or Caldwell, FTA and HART? We originally wrote it on September 9, 2016.

On September 17, 2016 the Washington Post published this article: Washington searches for new streetcar riders in an Uber era (!)





Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Green Light, Red Light Ratio

Today I received a very interesting question: Has there ever been a study on if the ratio of red lights to green lights that a driver encounters during a trip has an effect on the driver's mood? My response follows.

If the ratio green-to-red is 1:1 then this means that the driver has a 50% probability for either green or red as he or she drives down a street with a series of signalized intersections.  This is a poor ratio for a main arterial. A well managed arterial street should have at least a 7:3 green-to-red ratio; that is, many more greens than reds. This requires traffic signal optimization to accomplish.

Surprisingly, Honolulu is often the opposite, which makes it easy to fix, if anyone bothered to work on it. I demonstrated this to reporters in the two times I run for mayor. The best we could do was 1:1 which means the traffic lights operated at random!

As to the behavioral implications, I'm not aware of literature on past research associated with this ratio, but there is plenty of literature associated with congestion and loss of time. Of course one of the most irritating things is when one departs from a green, drives toward the next light which is green, but soon before s/he arrives at the intersection, the light turns red. This is terrible for loss of time, pollution, schedule failure for buses, etc.

The picture below shows the "bandwiths" of green light for both directions of a two way street.  Signal coordination is easy to do for one street, but it's complicated for a large city network, However, computers and software can optimize those with ease.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Chinese Straddle Bus -- Take 3

It looks like the Chinese Straddle Bus that I covered at length here (in 2012 and 2013) has moved from a video concept to an experimental prototype phase.  There was a huge interest in this concept when it first came out in early 2012... by late 2012 my blog post "Enough with the Chinese Straddle Bus!" had over 2,000 reads.

This is indeed an interesting development. The main problems will be much more related to driver behavior, and much less related to technological feasibility, although the sheer size of it and maneuverability limitations may make it suitable to limited locales and arterial streets.


Friday, July 29, 2016

HART and City Nominated for Prestigious Award

The Federal Transit Administration was delighted to receive our submission in mid-July.

The Transportation Planning Excellence Awards Program is a biennial awards program co-developed by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). This program recognizes and celebrates outstanding transportation practices performed by planners and decision makers in communities across the country (see Award Criteria).

Cliff Slater, Panos Prevedouros and Randall Roth nominate the City of Honolulu (City) and Honolulu Authority Rapid Transportation (HART) for the following, barely believable feats:

  1. Against all odds and at a time of record federal deficits and a slumping local economy, the City and HART somehow managed to extract and divert more than $5 billion in local funds (the upper range of which is still a mystery) and garner FTA support for $1.55 billion in federal funds – all to build an elevated heavy rail system that was out-of-date before construction even began (Antiquated Rail System)!

  2. Making the funding for this Antiquated Rail System all the more remarkable is a population of potential commuters on Oahu that is dramatically smaller than the smallest urban area in the U.S.A. that still has an Antiquated Rail System.

  3. One could perhaps argue that San Juan, Puerto Rico pulled off an equally amazing accomplishment by securing its own Antiquated Rail System relatively recently, but Puerto Rico is just a territory (so heaven alone knows what really goes on there) and San Juan did not have itself to point to as evidence that Antiquated Rail Systems invariably cost a lot more, and attract considerably fewer riders, than self-interested planners and politicians tend to predict.  We now know that the actual cost of San Juan’s Antiquated Rail System exceeded the final funding agreement estimate by 78% and that actual ridership is less than a third of the projected number.  In fact, the combined ridership of bus and rail is now less than just bus ridership before rail (see p. 25 of 32 and
p. 23 of 29).

  4. The City and HART even managed to impede and then ignore the work of The Infrastructure Management Group (IMG), an independent expert retained by the then-governor for a second opinion on the likely cost of an Antiquated Rail System.  Here’s how IMG described its experience and findings:
“[T]he IMG Team found the extreme difficulty in being able to obtain information from the City and its consultants both unique in our collective experience and [a hindrance to] our ability to perform the project.  This was also a puzzlement – why would the City wish to restrict the team engaged to review the project's financial plan from being able to obtain the information necessary to perform its work?
“A multi-billion dollar transportation improvement project, particularly one that is proposed to be operated in, and funded by, an urbanized area that is far smaller than the norm for such projects, should have its financial plan developed with methodologies that incorporate the highest professional and technical standards and techniques.  As we demonstrate [in this report], the financial planning and modeling process for [this] Project fails this ‘best practices’ test in many ways.”
  5. Making the pursuit of an Antiquated Rail System all the more remarkable was the discovery that senior people at the FTA had commented in interagency email about the City’s “lousy practices of public manipulation,” use of “inaccurate statements,” and culture of “never [having] enough time to do it right, but lots of time to do it over.”  FTA also noted that the City had put itself in a “pickle” by setting unrealistic start dates for construction, and criticized the City’s “casual treatment of burials.”

  6. Speaking of which, who could have predicted that the City and HART could skirt federal burial laws, essentially by denying the high likelihood of unearthing protected remains and promising to be “respectful?”

  7.  Equally noteworthy was the City and HART’s mischaracterization of the viable alternatives to rail—you know, the ones that would have been affordable and actually relieve traffic congestion, protect the environment, and preserve the Hawaiian sense of place.

  8. We would be remiss in not mentioning that the City and HART managed to convince much of the public that an Antiquate Rail System would actually reduce the current level of traffic congestion despite an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that said the exact opposite.  In all fairness to other nominees for this award, however, the FTA assisted that particular ruse by stating in a press release a belief that “this project will bring much needed relief from the suffocating congestion on the H-1 Freeway.”  This statement from the FTA was directly contrary to the FTA-approved Final EIS in which the City acknowledged that “traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”   

  9. On their own, the City and HART started construction without even beginning to plan for the eventual payment of operating costs.  Just imagine, more than $100 million per year in added operating costs (roughly 5% of the City’s entire budget), and the City/HART does an Alfred E. Newman imitation: “What, us worry?”

  10. Similarly, the City and HART have not said where it will find money for repairs and maintenance to the Antiquated Rail System.  With the Washington DC rail system literally falling apart one might have expected someone in our nation’s capitol—perhaps even someone with the FTA—to mention that.  Likewise for the City and HART’s failure to plan for security, fare collection, adequate parking, and accessible bathrooms. 

  11. In 2004 Mayor Mufi Hannemann claimed it would cost $2.7 billion to build a 34-mile Antiquated Rail System.  The estimated cost is now $8.1 billion, and climbing, while the planned length is down to 20 miles, and shrinking. 

  12. When an independent financial audit found in 2016 that HART had “failed to perform qualitative analysis” and had relied on “insufficient cost-control,” HART called the audit “a joke,” and kept doing what it had been doing.  Booya! 

We hope that the FTA can detect satire, and that it will someday hold itself accountable, along with the City and HART, for Honolulu’s rail fiasco.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

"Mandating V2V Connectivity Is a Waste of Time"

Ronald Bailey, Science Correspondent, Reason magazine (adapted from "Will Politicians Block Our Driverless Future," Reason.com, June 18, 2016)

There are two "equally important components that will determine the future of autonomous vehicles," Lyft's vice president for government relations, Joseph Okpaku said at a March Senate Commerce Committee hearing. "The first is the interaction of everyday people with these new vehicles, and the second is the much more unpredictable interface of government with this entirely new transportation resource."

University of Texas engineer Kara Kockelman notes that traditional automakers tend to "see the transition to self-driving as a very natural, very normal process adding over time features like GPS, adaptive cruise control, cameras, lane-keeping-assist systems, dedicated short-range communication, and so forth." Such semi-autonomous vehicles can safely operate only in predictable traffic environments, so some manufacturers are suggesting that dedicated additional infrastructure, such as separate highway lanes, be built for them.

But "special lanes are a bad idea," says Kockelman. "They would be incredibly expensive and constraining." Planners, politicians, and regulators may think that establishing dedicated infrastructure for self-driving cars is helpful, but autonomous vehicle pioneer Brad Templeton notes that "such rules could easily lead to them not being allowed in ordinary lanes."

Kockelman argues that semi-autonomous vehicles, or what NHTSA calls "limited self-driving automation," present a big safety problem. With these so-called Level 3 vehicles, drivers cede full control to the car for the most part, but must be ready at all times to take over if something untoward occurs. The problem is that such semi-autonomous cars travel along safely 99 percent of the time, allowing the attention of their bored drivers to falter. In an August 2015 study, NHTSA reported that depending on the on-board alert, it took drivers as long as 17 seconds to regain manual control of the semi-autonomous car. "The radical change to full automation is important," argues Kockelman. "Level 3 is too dangerous. We have to jump over that to Level 4 full automation, and most manufacturers don't want to do that. They want protection; they want baby steps; they want special corridors. They won't get that."

Consequently, the first law of the robocar revolution, according to Templeton, is that "you don't change the infrastructure." Whatever functionality is needed to drive safely should be on board each individual vehicle. "Just tell the software people that this is the road you have to drive on, and let them figure it out," Templeton says. "Everything you must do is in the software, or you lose." Some self-driving shuttles confined to specific areas—airports, pedestrian malls, colleges campuses—will be deployed, but they are not the future of this technology.

Another infrastructure mistake would be mandating the deployment of "smart roadside infrastructure," such as traffic lights and sensors to monitor conditions like icing on bridges and communicate the information via radio to autonomous cars. In 2015, Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D, MI), Gary Peters (D, MI), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) embraced this idea when they introduced the Vehicle Innovation Act, which included spending more than $300 million on various favored tech, including vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications systems.


Before embracing such external information systems, keep in mind that the U.S. DOT estimated in 2007 that 75% of the nation's 330,000 traffic lights are mistimed or use obsolete control systems. "If city and county street and road agencies can't keep traffic signals up-to-date, how long would it take them to install and upgrade smart road systems?" Randal O'Toole asked in a 2014 Cato Institute study, "Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles." It's all most states and cities can do to fix potholes, much less deploy and maintain sophisticated networks of roadway sensors.

Other regulators and politicians want to require automobiles to be equipped with V2V communications tech using dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) protocols. The idea is that cars could talk to one another to provide warnings of traffic jams, accidents ahead, or vehicles in front that are braking. They might even cooperate with one another to get through intersections. A good bit of the Obama Administration's promised $4 billion for autonomous vehicles would be earmarked forV2V research and development.

"DSRC is already obsolete," argues Kockelman. "Regulators simply can't write down a communications standard that will be useful for a long time." Templeton agrees. "People outside the industry think it's essential, and the car companies are just going along with it to keep them happy," he says. "It's something designed in 2000 [that] wouldn't be fully deployed until 2030 or later." The bottom line: "Mandating V2V connectivity is stupid and a waste of time."

Templeton cites the internet as a model for how to roll out the technologies that enable self-driving cars. "The internet is a dumb network that connects smart devices," he explains. "You want smart cars running on stupid roads." Dumb networks push innovation to the edge, giving end-users control over the speed and direction of change.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Manila Traffic Congestion

Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 14th, 2016: Citing a six-hour commuting “kalbaryo” for Metro Manila commuters, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) has reiterated its call for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to declare a traffic crisis so that he could be given emergency powers to solve the problem.

Then two weeks later...

GMA News, July 1, 2016: Senate President Franklin Drilon on Friday filed a bill seeking to grant President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the perennial traffic problem not only in Metro Manila but also in other major urban areas as well.

Indeed Manila's traffic congestion is extraordinary and a simple screen capture from Google tells the story:

I was in Manila in mid-July and I decided to book a 3-hour ride in a taxi to take in the sights... and the congestion.  This was on a Saturday when traffic is slightly less hectic than weekdays. However, around the two hour point I have had did and asked the driver to take me back!



Traffic flow in Manila is very disorganized. The root cause of the congestion are the jitneys and city buses that stop anywhere, including the third or fourth lane of a five lane boulevard to embark and disembark passengers. They fiercely compete and block each other in order to secure the tiny fare.

This is a brutal system the at various times reduced roadway capacity from upward of 5.000 vehicles per hour to under 2,000 vehicles per hour.  I witnessed a jitney driver on a 3-lane road (3 lanes, no shoulders) stopping and blocking a lane to relieve himself in the jersey barrier. I saw one lane left turn becoming a two or three lane left turn because road connectivity is poor. I was told but I did not witness it, that passenger processing occurs ever on freeway! Taxis and buses stop and pick up people on the freeway. The traffic flow situation in Manila is brutal, chaotic, wasteful and nonsensical.

I also spent a few days in Legaspi City, population about 200,000 where most roads are basic 2-lane roads, one lane per direction. Legaspi has better planning and road capacity for its current level of traffic, but again, random stops by the ubiquitous trikes and jitneys waste over 50% of the road capacity, sometimes creating a quarter mile queue when none should be there given the amount of traffic present.

However, the political moves made in the Philippines government do not seem to address the problem.  The changes are more about contracting and less about flow management and transportation service regulation. Strict penalties for lane blockage must be enacted. The rampant police officer bribing which allows the chaos of passenger processing to continue must stop.

Buses need to be organized into scheduled transit service (not necessarily government transit, but organized, regulated transit) with drivers being professional operators nor highway sharks. Most jitneys need to be regulated out of existence. They are slow, cumbersome and very polluting.  Some of the jitneys (a Manila icon) may be retained and upgraded for neighborhood (feeder) service.

And one more "to do": The Philippines must regulate 2-stroke engines out of existence by 2020.




Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Making the Most of the Rail Fiasco

This is a fuller version of the article I co-authored with Cliff Slater and professor Randy Roth that appeared on the Honolulu Star Advertiser on June 29, 2016.
----------------------------------
It’s now painfully clear, even to Mayor Caldwell, that the likely cost of taking rail all the way to Ala Moana Shopping Center would greatly exceed available funds.  That’s why the new plan is to stop at Middle Street, eight stops short of Ala Moana, at least until an additional $4 billion can be found.  Just weeks earlier, Caldwell and others were saying that it would make no sense to stop at Middle Street—rail needed to reach Ala Moana, at a minimum, or so they were saying before realizing that that money simply wasn’t there.

This financial nightmare only gets worse when one takes into account its impact on the Full Funding Grant Agreement.  This is a legal contract the City signed with the Federal Transit Administration as a condition of receiving a series of federal payments totaling $1.55 billion.  Because of the decision to stop at Middle Street the FTA, is now legally entitled not just to stop providing funds, but to demand the immediate return of nearly $0.5 billion already provided.

We believe that the FTA will be extraordinarily flexible in dealing with this financial train wreck, partly because the FTA’s own hands are dirty.  It knew very early on that City officials were neither competent nor honest. We base this on interagency email in which FTA officials commented on the City’s “lousy practices of public manipulation,” willingness to “deceive with no remorse,” use of “inaccurate statements,” and having a culture of “never enough time to do it right, but lots of time to do it over.”

FTA officials also noted that the City had botched three projects and were “well on their way to a fourth,” started construction this time “without authority despite warnings that it would create an ineligibility for the project,” and put itself in a “pickle” by setting unrealistic start dates for construction.

We also know that FTA officials had ready access to the report of independent experts hired by Gov. Lingle to provide a second opinion on the likely cost of the proposed rail system.  The group’s bottom-line assessment should have alarmed the FTA:  “A multi-billion dollar transportation improvement project, particularly one that is proposed to be operated in, and funded by, an urbanized area that is far smaller than the norm for such projects, should have its financial plan developed with methodologies that incorporate the highest professional and technical standards and techniques.  As we demonstrate [in this report], the financial planning and modeling process for [this] Project fails this ‘best practices’ test in many ways.”

The FTA also aided the City in its dishonest efforts to convince people that rail would reduce the current level of traffic congestion.  For example, the FTA publicly expressed belief that “this project will bring much needed relief from the suffocating congestion on the H-1 Freeway.”  This was contrary to the FTA-approved Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in which the City had acknowledged that “traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”  The FTA's statement also contradicted its own previous position in its January 2011 Record of Decision in which it stated:  "Many commenters [on the Draft EIS] reiterated their concern that the Project will not relieve highway congestion in Honolulu. FTA agrees..."

Despite these and many other indications that the City could never build rail “on time and on budget,” as Mayor Caldwell repeatedly promised, the FTA apparently buckled under political pressure when it entered into the FFGA.  Because of the FTA’s complicity in Honolulu’s rail fiasco, the FTA should now allow the city to use the $1.55 billion of federal money to make the best of a terrible situation that it could and should have prevented.

We believe the most attractive of the available options is to convert the existing rail guideway into dedicated lanes for a state-of-the-art Bus Rapid Transit system that extends not just to Middle Street but far beyond to Manoa, Waikiki and other parts of the island, including Waianae.  As the figure below shows, regular, articulated and double-decker buses will fit the existing rail guideway and will operate normally and safely with a guided-bus system similar to those running in Essen, Germany,  Adelaide, Australia and several other cities.

This could be done with the money that otherwise would be wasted on a rail system that was out-of-date before construction even began. A BRT conversion will use familiar technology, will have a higher ridership, will preserve bus routes, and will provide more traffic congestion relief than rail.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Autobahn: Where "Speed Kills" Dies

The German autobahn is a traffic safety paradox. Countries like Australia, the US and the UK have made freeway speed control a major objective of their traffic safety code. Many high class roads in the US are limited to 55 mph and sometimes lower speeds. The top BBC television program Top Gear has scored big laughs with US speed limits.

Speed kills they say.  That can be true. In a case of loss of control or other accident conditions, a modest impact accident can become a severe or fatal accident if the speeds are high.  But speed itself does not kill. In a recent (June 2016) presentation at the German federal department of transportation that I witnessed in Berlin, the statistics clearly showed that the Autobahn is the safest German road.  Germany in general has better traffic safety that the US.  But the speeds on the Autobahn are insane.

Recently I drove about 1,000 km on several German autobahns connecting Berlin and Frankfurt.  When the road was not wet, I was typically using the middle lane and cruised at 150-160 km/hr for long stretches where no limits were in effect. That's 93-100 mph in a loaded car with a family of four!

But on occasion like the one below I'd move up to 176 km/hr or 109 mph and get passed quickly by a Hyundai SUV as in the instance below. The speeding of Hollywood car chases is common place with common cars on the German autobahn.


Note in the picture that the dashboard indicates to me the speed limit in the sign with the red circle and three dashes.  The dashes mean that no speed limit is in effect on that segment of the road. The dashes are replaced with applicable limits, most commonly 120 or 90 km/hr in sections with curves or other difficulties.  The Germans were very cognizant of these limits and adhered to them. On occasion I'd drive a little faster on those restricted stretches to pass the Porsches so I can enjoy the whoosh of being passed by them minutes later... Even when did 194 km/hr (120 mph) they zipped by me at , I'd guess, 155 mph which is a common governed speed limit (based on the tire type fitted).


And nobody died; not even close.  It was fun to see that the next city was 50 miles away and arrive there in about half an hour!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

$10 Billion Is the Ultimate Price Tag for Honolulu's Rail Boondoggle

Back in January 2016 the Honolulu Civil Beat published my opinion with the title: $10 Billion: The Ultimate Price Tag for Honolulu Rail?

On Friday, May 13, 2016 the cost or rail was pegged by HART at $6.9 Billion.

On Sunday, May 15, 2016 the cost or rail was pegged by FTA at $8.1 Billion.

On March 20, 2016, the New York Times published an article that included my opinions with the title: Hawaii Struggles to Keep Rail Project from Becoming A Boondoggle.

Given these cost updates (while less that one third of the project has been built), clearly the question mark is no longer necessary, and the project is a verifiable boondoggle.  Thus:

$10 Billion Is the Ultimate Price Tag for Honolulu's Rail Boondoggle

I am sorry that Honolulu voters did not pick me in 2008 or 2010, or past Gov. Ben Cayetano in 2012 for mayor. Honolulu's punishment in now too severe, and we haven't seen the half of it yet.