Friday, April 16, 2021

Finally an Article that Describes Me Well: Why Some People Are Willing to Challenge Wrongs


"The traits of a moral rebel

First, moral rebels generally feel good about themselves. They tend to have high self-esteem and to feel confident about their own judgment, values and ability. They also believe their own views are superior to those of others, and thus that they have a social responsibility to share those beliefs.

Moral rebels are also less socially inhibited than others. They aren’t worried about feeling embarrassed or having an awkward interaction. Perhaps most importantly, they are far less concerned about conforming to the crowd. So, when they have to choose between fitting in and doing the right thing, they will probably choose to do what they see as right."


That's right!


SOURCE:  Analysis: Why some people are willing to challenge behavior they see as wrong despite personal risk


Friday, April 9, 2021

Urban Transit After COVID-19

 Excellent input by transportation experts Robert Poole and Steve Polzin.

==============

Urban Transit After COVID-19

Here is a recent set of headlines from a couple of reputable sources, to introduce a discussion of how urban transit will need to change when we enter the post-pandemic period:

The reporters of these stories reflect genuine concerns, but my impression is that many in the transportation community have not fully thought through the implications for urban transit in the “after” COVID-19 times.

One expert who has is Steve Polzin, a former transit official, university professor, and most recently as a senior advisor for research and technology at the U.S. Department of Transportation. After reading a detailed paper that he and a colleague produced while at DOT last fall, Reason Foundation commissioned Polzin to write a policy brief focusing specifically on how transit will have to change, and why. The new report, “Public Transportation Must Change after COVID-19,” was published last week and you can find it here.

Polzin first reminds us that in the five years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, transit experienced a significant loss of ridership, before appearing to stabilize at a lower level by 2019. Then the pandemic led to former transit riders avoiding buses and rail transit in favor of cars, bikes, walking, and working at home. Comparing January 2020 (pre-pandemic) with January 2021, unlinked transit trips were 65% less (though transit vehicle miles of service decreased only 23% for the same months).

Alas for those hoping for a post-pandemic return to “normal,” among the factors leading to permanent changes are, of course, some degree of permanent shifts to working from home, either part-time or full-time, along with the continued popularity of network companies like Lyft and Uber, a millennial generation that is getting older and buying houses in the suburbs, and a general movement of people and companies from higher-density to lower-density locations.

Polzin points out that even if many people work at home Mondays and Fridays, but still work in the office mid-week, this will “make it harder to justify peak capacity capital investments and complicate service scheduling.” In terms of permanent work-at-home shifts, he notes that if this share doubles from pre-pandemic levels of 5.7% to about 12% of people working from home, that could mean 15%-to-20% fewer downtown workers, a major change for downtown-focused rail transit systems.

Another section of the brief looks at declining vehicle occupancy by transit mode: bus, light rail, heavy rail, and commuter rail. All four are down significantly, but some much more than others. And this makes a surprising difference in the environmental friendliness of these modes. Here is his comparison of pre-pandemic vs. December 2020 fuel economy of various commuter modes, drawn from the U.S. Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center plus estimated occupancies from the National Transit Database. The metric is passenger miles per gasoline gallons equivalent; hence the highest numbers are best.

Commuting Mode Pre-COVID Current
Heavy rail 50.4 18.0
Automobiles 41.7 41.7*
Commuter rail 39.6 10.9
Light trucks/SUVs 36.1 36.1*
Transit bus 26.6 14.5
Demand response (Uber, Lyft) 9.2 9.2*

*assumed to be unchanged

As of December 2020, the most fuel-efficient means of commuting was the car, followed by light trucks—but only because occupancy embedded in the transit calculations was so drastically low. Obviously, when we get past the pandemic those figures should rise but whether mass transit will be able to rebuild enough ridership to be more fuel-efficient (and hence more carbon-friendly) remains to be seen, and as you can see from the current numbers, transit has a long way to go.

A major premise of the Biden administration’s transportation agenda is to greatly increase federal spending on transit, compared with only modest, constrained increases for highways (with very little scope for adding highway capacity). This approach poses major risks of putting billions of taxpayer dollars into projects that will have costs far greater than their benefits (e.g., light rail systems for medium-sized cities, megaproject expansions of heavy rail and commuter rail systems, etc.).

At the very least, it is premature at this juncture to commit funding for major new rail transit projects before we have some idea of the extent of transit ridership in the first several years after nationwide vaccinations.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Inspections Discover Cracks in Rail Line Tracks

 Rick Daysog: Inspections discover cracks in rail line tracks. Also mirrored at Full Court Press with Greta Van Susteren.

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - During a recent inspection, rail officials discovered cracks in several crossover tracks along the line that could cause further delays for the embattled project.

According to Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation documents, the manufacturer of the crossovers ― called frogs ― was responsible for the casting flaws.

Recent inspections also found that some of the welds and surfaces on other parts of the tracks didn’t meet the specifications set under contract.

“Before we have an operating system, we have cracks and failures,” said rail critic and University of Hawaii Civil and Environmental Engineering Prof. Panos Prevedouros.

“That is really extremely disappointing. I don’t now how else to describe it. ... We’ve been had.”

Prevedouros said the rail system’s steel-on-steel technology was supposed to last for decades but can’t even last several hundred practice runs without cracking.


“We selected rail because supposedly it was bullet proof,” he said. “You build it out of steel and you’re done.”

How long the project is delayed will depend on how many of the cracked frogs need to be replaced and how long it takes to manufacture and install them.

Hawaii News Now asked HART spokesman Joey Manahan how many of these devices are damaged and how much of a delay replacing them will cause.

He declined to answer, saying that the rail authority planned to respond at its board meeting Thursday.

Prevedouros believes the initial opening of service between Kapolei and Aloha Stadium, which was scheduled for June, will now be delayed several months because HART won’t be able test their trains at normal speeds and under normal conditions.



HART Rail Cost Grows Past $12 Billion

 In January 2016, I projected that the cost to complete HART's rail will be $11 Billion (stated by HART as $6.9B at that time). Once again, that was the good news.

It's pretty clear that the people in charge need to do something about destroying the city's and state's finances while pursuing a largely useless, outdated and very expensive to run transportation "alternative."

We have great alternatives already... TheBus, Uber, Zoom, bikeways and soon enough, robotaxis. Plus people leaving Hawaii by the thousands

Monday, March 1, 2021

Why is My Car Insurance So High

 Quoted in this article on Why is My Car Insurance So High.

What steps can drivers take to get cheaper car insurance?

"Drivers need to do some comparative shopping for insurance rates every couple of years.

If they are considering purchasing another vehicle, they should investigate the insurance ratings and costs of their candidate vehicles and choose wisely; rates for vehicles in the same price range vary because of their varied repair costs, safety features and performance levels.

If the driver has a problematic traffic record, then he or she must consult with their DMV and insurance to go through re-education or other programs in order to lessen their risk score.

Other relevant decisions that affect insurance rates include location and distance driven. Some locations are much riskier than others (drivers who rent may have more flexibility to move to a safer area near by). Long commutes often correspond to higher annual premiums, so work or housing decisions affect vehicle operating costs including insurance."

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Car Insurance for High Risk Drivers.

Quoted by WalletHub on Car Insurance for High Risk Drivers.

Their slight editing made one of my comments non sensical..."such as the passing of a divided highway" should be ... such as passing on a divided highway.

What can high-risk drivers do to lower their car insurance?

They can do several things starting with re-reviewing the rules of the road and pledging to adhere to the rules. Besides, they can attend safe driving classes and, if available, simulation lessons that help realize the risk of crashes in a controlled environment.

What makes a driver high risk?

The typical ingredients of high-risk driving are inattention, aggression, distraction, and intoxication. These apply to drivers of both genders and all ages. Typically younger, male drivers are more susceptible to speeding and high-risk maneuvers such as the passing of a divided highway and aggressive cornering.

What can drivers do to become not a high-risk driver?

Drivers need to continually work on their safe driving habits such as never driving intoxicated, devoting full attention to the driving task, and leaving speeding and aggressive maneuvering for the racetrack (i.e., track days and exotic car venues.)

Friday, January 8, 2021

Updated Reality for Autonomous Vehicles

 Quote

In March 2018, Waymo confidently forecast that “up to 20,000” electric Jaguars “will be built in the first two years of production and be available for riders of Waymo’s driverless service, serving a potential 1m trips per day”.

Two months later, it added that “up to 62,000” Chrysler minivans would join its driverless fleet, “starting in late 2018”.

Today, there is little sign that any of these vehicles have been ordered and Waymo’s official fleet size remains just 600.

End Quote



  Financial Times, Rolling out driverless cars is ‘extraordinary grind’, says Waymo boss, January 4, 2021.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Experts Weigh in on Current Job Market Trends

 Career advice, including mine, for graduating civil engineers.


In your opinion, what are the biggest trends we'll see in the job market given the pandemic?

Panos Prevedouros Ph.D.: Most jobs will be in Engineering disciplines needed for infrastructure maintenance, upgrade and replacement. Also a lot of new developments have been deferred by the pandemic, and if there is no surprise in the lending rates, development will grow and possibly skyrocket in 2022 and beyond.

Engineering disciplines related to transit will shrink. Transit has lost about 80% of its riders and is unlikely to regain many of them, for reasons such as depleted municipal budgets, desire of people to avoid dense crowds well after the pandemic ends, and robocars becoming established in 5 to 10 years.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Rail’s Completion Takes Construction to 2033!

Even the rail project’s harshest critics think the mayor’s 2033 completion date estimate is overly pessimistic.

“He pushed it all the way to 2033. That’s 13 years. It’s like we’re restarting the project from scratch,” said University of Hawaii Civil Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros.

Under the city’s estimates, contractors would be building the remaining four miles of the guideway and the rail stations at a rate of about 1/3 a mile each year, which is very slow by most standards.

“Inch by inch, foot by foot ― yes,” Prevedouros joked.

But he also believes that both the city’s and HART’s cost estimates are overly optimistic.

“My anticipated total costs for this total project will be in the order of $13 billion,” he said.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Panos’ Estimates Rail Cost to Reach at Least $13 Billion

In fact $13 billion is a rock bottom estimate of total costs from project inception in 2006 to project completion and full commissioning into revenue service in 2026 (or later.)

If HART rail were to start operations today, it would get about 20% of the expected opening day forecast ridership.

Unlike a large metropolis with huge demand for commuting trips (where rail makes sense), HART rail will be a costly and environmental disaster for decades.

The only "solution" is to cut it short. Complete 16 miles to the Middle Street intermodal center and stop the bleeding there.

Many thanks to Dr. Keli'i Akina and the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii for the ThinkTech interview.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Belated Praise from Bob Jones!

Praise from Bob Jones? It's 2020 after all! Mahalo for the acknowledgement. When it's all said and done, I'll be 3x correct. Plus one. The first three were cost, complexity of delivery, and low ridership (~50% off TheBus.) The plus one is the new normal: Zoom and telecommuting, distancing requirements, shrinkage of services, and Uber and automated vehicles/robotaxis.

===============

Covid-19 is, understandably, #1 on the news cycle in Honolulu these days. But we have a Primary election coming Saturday and I wonder if everyone will forget and forgive about the train cost and delay.

The local gadfly Panos Prevadouros — who’s probably a much better civil engineer and professor than a would-be politician — got some of it strikingly right in his long fight against the elevated train project.

When the cost was just $5 billion, he showed that even if it served 7% of Oahu travelers (the City figure) it would be an irresponsible expenditure.

Little did we guess that the final cost might be $10 billion and the finish date so far in the future that we might all be traveling by air cars or rocket packs by then!

And to think that we embarked on this project with just 50.6% of those who voted saying yes to it. Not exactly a resounding huzzah.

Picking Your Candidates? Don’t Forget The Train, The Train, The Train, The Train

================


Friday, June 26, 2020

My June Commentary on Trump and the Pandemic, Masks, and Hawaii Tourism

The late June Covid-19 situation in AZ, FL and TX (see 1) is a second chance for Trump to re-set his stance on the pandemic, for a chance to win. Or he can double down on absurdities and toast himself... because he isn't losing thanks to Biden's abilities and platform.

A consistent, transparent and measured response to the virus will do it:
  • Promote open air activities,
  • Use disinfection,
  • Keep distancing,
  • Use masks in crowded environs, and
  • Educate people with Covid-19 pre-conditions to avoid crowded indoor environments (even with family and friends.)
The anti-mask rhetoric has become absurd: We all know that decades of use of masks by doctors, nurses and the Japanese did not asphyxiate them, and did not turn them into communist peons or face covering Muslims. Relax and protect yourself. Remember the virus loves a crowd and gets to you via the nose or mouth.

Use your common sense. For example, my common sense says to use the mask inside a Costco or any supermarket because some isles are crowded and usually someone will cough or sneeze during the time I am there. My common sense says to pass on using the mask at Costco gas or any gas station. It's open air, I'm there for 2-3 minutes only, and typically there's nobody near me.

It doesn't matter much what rules Hawaii will establish for tourism... Given the anti business mindset of the people in charge, Hawaii will make itself even less attractive than other sunny places, thus prolonging its economic misery.

The facts are these: (1) airport travel volume is around 10% compared to 2019, (2) no large hotels will open to operate at 10% capacity and at nearly 100% cost, and (3) marketing Hawaii as a safe destination makes little sense since it involves a 12 or 17 hour round trip in an airplane from California or Japan; this is a much higher risk than time spent at the beach or in a spaced out restaurant.

Bottom line, tourism will happen at its own terms, not at ours. Politicians and regulators are clearly part of the problem in this arena, in making rules that mostly inconvenience Hawaii based travelers.


Note (1): That's the problem with summer... hot and humid weather in AZ, FL, TX, etc. which makes the outdoors less inviting for long periods, and air conditioned spaces highly desirable... thus crowding many people in enclosed spaces with recirculating chilled air. Just what the virus needed for spreading. On a positive note, the crowds seem to include less vulnerable people, so in some states case numbers are way up, but Covid-19 fatalities are nowhere near what NY had in March.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Memorial Day Did Not Increase Covid-19 Cases in the US

Daily data on new cases of Covid-19 in the US show that Memorial Day celebrations, widely reported to have causes masses to enjoy themselves with no adherence to social distancing, did not cause a spike a cases. 

In the data below,
  • Week 1 ends on Memorial Day and has a total of 157,584 new cases
  • Week 2 follows and has a total of 140,056 new cases, and 
  • Week 3 has a total of 951 new cases

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Date for Rail to Be up and Running Pushed Back

KITV interview

I note that City DTS Director Frycztaki provided a lie instead of an applicable reason for the delay. He said the delay is due to the PPP bid deadline being moved due to Covid-19, but the PPP affects the final segment of the rail. The opening of the rail is for the "completed" segment from Kapolei to the airport...

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Letter to Governor to Open Up Small Business and Interisland Air Travel

I appreciate the written response by the governor's office to the letter I helped compose urging him to open up all small business in Hawaii that can comply with reasonable rules. I hope that he'll get to it soon.

WHEREAS every business is essential; there is no such thing as non-essential business when it comes to generating jobs and taxes for the state,

WHEREAS thousands of small businesses in Hawaii, many of them family owned and operated, are at risk of failure if the current restrictions are not lifted soon,

WHEREAS a recent AXIOS report indicated that 90% of the nation’s small farmers could go out of business if restaurants are forced to operate at diminished capacity during the height of harvest season this summer,
  
WHEREAS restoring the function and capacity of our community-based businesses is an essential first step in the long road to Hawaii’s economic recovery,

WHEREAS we small business owners are fully capable of caring for our employees and protecting our customers; we are confident that we can operate safely in the best interests of the community,

WHEREAS reopening interisland travel is critical for connecting our islands and testing inspection systems in anticipation of the recovery of tourism later this summer,

WHEREAS time is of the essence to reduce the long-term economic harm being done to our state, as each day that we continue with these restrictions deepens the pain and extends the recovery time by an ever-increasing amount,

THEREFORE, WE CALL ON our Governor and Mayors to reopen business within the State of Hawaii, support the efforts of small business to restore employment to tens of thousands of Hawaii residents, and provide the necessary monitoring and metrics to ensure the safety of the public as our state begins the difficult process of recovery.

SUGGESTED ACTIONS AND METRICS

  • Allow all businesses in Hawaii to open as soon as they can fully comply with state and county country mandates regarding social distancing (including mask wearing), hygiene and safety, without regard to their previous status as essential or non-essential.
  • Allow the Department of Health to enact emergency rulemaking to adapt National Restaurant Association best practices guidelines for all Hawaii food establishments. This will allow proprietors to procure the materials and adopt the procedures necessary to reopen safely.
  • Open airports to interisland travel with a safety plan that may include temperature scans at the arriving gates and holding space for those found having a fever.
  • Maintain Covid-19 testing and new case reporting against a clearly articulated set of targets. Establish metrics by which social and business restrictions may be re-imposed if deemed necessary to ensure that Hawaii’s health care system is able to meet the demands of this ongoing crisis.
  • Create an action plan for a private/public initiative to restore Hawaii’s small business sector, with a goal to reopen all small businesses no later than June 1.
  • Establish a task force composed of members of Hawaii’s small business community to help advise governmental decision-makers during the three phases of the economic restoration process: Reopening, Recovery and Revitalization. This includes giving voice not only to small business owners, but also the employees, vendors and customers who rely on their continued success.
SMALL BUSINESS SIGNATORIES
·        Steve Haumschild, Managing partner of 5 Hawaii-based businesses
·        Theodore A Peck, Holu Energy and Tian Shan Renewable Energy
·        Don Mangiarelli, General Manager, Enterprise Technology Solutions
·        Roy Skaggs, RJS Renewable Solutions, LLC
·        Elizabeth Kellam, Hawaii Association of Realtors, Honolulu Board of Realtors
·        Maki Kuroda, President, E Noa Corporation
·        Michael Kissel, Owner of Specities Hawai’i Inc.
·        Steven Sullivan, VP at Parallel Capital Partners and board member Kaka’ako Improvement Association
·        Natalie Iwasa, CPA, CFE
·        Laura Brown, Soundmix LLC
·        Phil Bruno, ARA Hawaii
·        Mark Storfer, VP Hilo Hattie
·        Dale Evans, CEO, Charley's Taxi
·        Suzanne Johnsen Green, Owner Plato’s Closet Honolulu
·        Forrest Shoemaker, Owner Hilton Group, Hawaii Candle & POS Paper Supply
·        Nancy Nino, Owner, Aloha Organizers LLC

OTHER SIGNATORIES
·        Clif Purkiser, Board of Directors, Pacific Historic Parks
·        Joseph A Ferguson, IT Admin-Leeward Community Church, U.S. Coast Guard Reservist
·        Peter Kay, Facebook moderator
·        Panos D. Prevedouros, UH Manoa
·        Byron Riddle
·        Richard M Fong
·        Miki Martins
·        Carol Ai May
·        Kendall Shimabukuro
·        Paul Orem
·        Gregg and Robin Stueber
·        Sharon Rasos

Monday, April 27, 2020

Why Did Gov. Ige Lock Hawaii Down Till May 31?

Governor Ige's position on Covid-19 for Hawaii makes little sense and lacks scientific base. Let me show you evidence of this fact first.

Let's compare Hawaii with several European countries. All the countries shown in the table below, except for Spain, had a moderate challenge with the Covid-19 epidemic. Although in Hawaii many more stores and businesses remained open in the last several weeks, and tourism is still occurring at roughly five percent of its usual pace, Hawaii's new cases of Covid-19 are tiny. Also recall that roughly one third of neighboring island new cases were centered at the Maui Memorial Hospital.


When adjusted for population, the four European countries shown in yellow average 27 daily new cases. At the same 7-day interval, Hawaii's case number is 10 and Honolulu's is 6!

Now let's look at the number of deaths due to to Covid-19 per one million population as of today:
  • Spain (472),  Germany (64), Denmark (68), Austria (59), Norway (35), and Hawaii (11)*
These five Eurorean countries in The Economist analysis are opening schools and small shops in the second half of April. At the same time, gov. Ige locked Hawaii down till May 31. As a result, Hawaii's already poor public education system will stay shut and deprive Hawaii's children from two months of education. Almost all small businesses are prohibited from opening.

So let's address the main question: The data clearly show that Hawaii's governor has taken caution and conservatism to an unusual level. Is this due to a lack of understanding or politics? It cannot be the former. Hawaii's Covid-19 case numbers are low both in absolute and relative terms; clearly the threat to public health and safety is minimal.

It is becoming increasingly clear that gov. Ige is waiting for other Democrat governors to show him the way, instead of doing what the numbers suggest: Reopen Hawaii (internally.) If he allowed Hawaii to re-open, then he'll run the risk of being accused that he follows the lead of Republican governors. Nationally, Republican governors plan to re-open their state economies or have kept them open, whereas Democrat governors tend to maintain lock downs.

Gov. Ige's 6th Proclamation of April 25, 2020 also included a provision that mayors cannot allow more freedoms unless he OK's them first.

Interestingly, the day before Ige's proclamation, the Wall Street Journal published a remarkable article titled: "The Bearer of Good Coronavirus News -- Stanford scientist John Ioannidis finds himself under attack for questioning the prevailing wisdom about lockdowns." There is increasing evidence that outside regions that must flatten the hospitalization demand curve to a manageable level (i.e., New York City) lock downs are unnecessary and detrimental to the natural process of herd immunity which is the only real weapon against a virus for which there is no vaccine or treatment.

You may like to think that we are all in it together, but politicians are all about partisan politics and control. UPDATE: On May 4, The New York Times depicted the political divide in reopening America. See image below.

(*) All Hawaii Covid-19 data reported in this post were taken from Hawaii Department of Health Covid-19 website and are directly comparable to the data in the The Economist analysis.


Sunday, April 26, 2020

Welcome Message to Incoming Fall 2020 Civil Engineering Students




Panos D. Prevedouros, PhD
Chairman and Professor of Transportation Engineering | Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
College of Engineering | University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
O (808) 956-9698 | F (808) 956-5014
2540 Dole Street, Holmes Hall 383 | Honolulu, HI 96822
pdp@hawaii.edu

Thursday, April 23, 2020

2nd Call for Re-opening Hawaii's Local Economy... We're Getting Closer

When I think of a small place with a vulnerable existence, I think of Israel. They are resource poor, dependent on outside support, too few, and their neighbors want them gone or worse. They cannot afford to die off due to disease or other internal reasons.

See slide 13 in the Governor's plan: Israel is reopening. What are Israel's statistics compared to Hawaii? (Scaled down 6x since it has about 9M population). 

Israel Covid-19 cases: 2,323, deaths: 30. Hawaii has 584 cases and 10 deaths.

There is no reason for Hawaii to have a lock-down and a closed local economy. We can open on May 1, with protections for high risk groups.

And after weighing outside risk factors, around June 1, we can start accepting a maximum of 1, then 2 and perhaps 3 flights per hour around 4th of July, from selected origins (for up to 10,000 tourists in late July compared to about 30,000 per day in 2019.) Keep the 10,000 cap until September and then re-assess.

The gradual opening in June with up to 3,000 K tourists per day in the first two weeks gives us time to finalize a process for the thorough screening, testing and paperwork for each visitor.


Thursday, April 16, 2020

Honolulu Rail Is a Massive Failure. It Will Be Public Health Enemy No. 1



Dear Elected Officials, Journalists and Media Experts,

After the Covid-19 scare and the face masks go away, the fear of infection will linger for a long while. And the threat of another type of infection in a few years is very real... SARS, MERS, H1N1, Covid-19... all came in the last 20 years. 

A major question is this: How many people will be willing to use a mode of transportation where others breathe, sneeze and cough 2-3 feet from their face, and should they?


 The information above should give you pause.  Honolulu Rail has been a massive failure. Continuing it makes it public health enemy number one.

Aloha,
Panos

Monday, April 13, 2020

First Call to Plan for Re-opening the Local Economy in Hawaii

My Facebook post is the first call I know of in Hawaii that offered some specific steps to re-open sectors of our local economy at specific dates given the tiny rate of infections and hospitalizations in Hawaii. As of this update, the post has 170 likes, 299 comments and 69 shares.

Hawaii hardly has a Covid-19 problem. Our hospitals are not busy. The calls for new curfews, more mask usage and policing beaches with drones are verging on the ridiculous! 

Local politicians are on an one-upmanship game for restrictions, instead of getting busy with charting a path for the long-term control of Covid-19 cases, and actions to recover our economy.

For example, the governor and his advisors should seriously consider this: All activities with up to two dozen people should be allowed starting on May 1... small businesses, small restaurants, small classes, small meetings, etc. Also, inter-island flights should be free to operate with no restrictions on May Day and beyond.


The majority of the comments were positive, but there were a few that fiercely opposed to any reduction in restrictions.  Clearly some of the latter were emotional.

I copy a few of the more interesting comments below:
  • Uniform mass quarantine is absolutely the wrong tactic. Select quarantine of elderly/high risk while the rest are encouraged to practice good habits and get us that herd immunity we desperately need but will not get under current conditions. This is just prolonging the issue.
  • New Zealand preparing to end lockdown after success in coronavirus battle
  • I think the blanket stay at home is probably not necessary after 4/30, but I’m not an epidemiologist, so I want them to look seriously at the best models relative to our state. I think some of what we are doing is just because they’re doing it in other states, such as the practices in some stores.
  • Has Sweden Found the Right Solution to the Coronavirus?
  • Everyone is walking around in complete fear. No one will look at another person if they pass in the street. I walk and people move to the street to avoid me. Someone posted walkers and runners beware, you could breath the air of an infected person. Seriously? People are ratting out their neighbors, others are cursing at people who came here on vacation. Get a grip!
  • I went and yeah the Hospital was a ghost town !!!!!!!
  • "... there are 535 ventilators in Hawaii and 65 are currently in use, while 97 ICU beds are being used out of 338." 
  •  For a fact I know that the employees at Straub on King Street have had their hours reduced due to a lack of patients. There are not enough COVID cases to make up for the denial of service to regular needs.
  • I didn't have time to read all 229 comments, But I spent 41 years in the wine and spirits business and it is time to open the Islands business. I suggest we continue to lock out "All" visitors ( for another month ) so we locals can enjoy, patronize our hotels, restaurants and shops on the Island for the good of the Island
  • Agreement with Sweden's actions -- Epidemiologist: Coronavirus could be ‘exterminated’ if lockdowns were lifted
  • No doubt NY is a mess, but it is  localized and the rest of the country is not in any panic stage. I think we all had it in Hawaii and California as we have many Chinese coming into our states.  We have likely developed herd immunity but the governors will take credit for keeping the curve down due to their quick response and unprecedented stupidity to kill the economy.
  • Citizen news on empty hospitals and media hype; New York, Ohio, Hawaii.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Interesting and Somewhat Contrarian Covid-19 Data

  • The picture above circulates on Twitter but the URL for the CDC website does not match what is shown. If the data are correct, they suggest fewer deaths from pneumonia since November 2019 because more deaths were likely attributed to Covid-19.










Saturday, April 4, 2020

Coronavirus: Light at the End of the Tunnel


  • On March 11, the World Health Organization declared a Covid-19 pandemic
  • On March 12, Hawaii decided that all large events are canceled. Disneyland announced its closing.
  • On March 13, Pres. Trump declared a 'state of emergency' in the U.S.
Right then I started collecting data for the World and for the US. All my data were taken around noon from ncov2019.live, and rounded up to nearest hundred cases.

Here is the summary of my data and projections which suggest that there is light at the end of the tunnel.


The first three graphs show the number of cases for three weeks starting in mid-March. The second graph suggests that a change has occurred and that the rate of daily growth has started declining. The third graph suggests that daily growth has become 'permanently' under 20% and declining. The fourth graph summarizes these three weeks of 21 daily data points and shows a clear downward trend.

In this writing, the last data point was collected at noon on April 4. Where do we go from here? 

If the rate of decline is slow, as the third graph suggests, then the shape of new cases will follow the red line on the bottom graph. New cases will peak at the very end of April. Around mid-May, the new cases in the US will be the same as now at about 300,000 per day. This is a likely scenario. The likely maximum of infections in the U.S will be about 35 million, and the maximum of new daily cases of will be about 1.2 million.

If the rate of decline is fast, as the fourth graph suggests, then the shape of new cases will follow the yellow line on the bottom graph. New cases will peak around April 15 and on May 15, the US will record only 100 new cases. This is a wonderful statistical outcome but not likely to occur unless the mitigations, warm weather and other factors serendipitously conspire to put a lid on this pandemic. Even under this optimistic scenario, the number of infections in the U.S will be about 12 million.

I'll keep following the numbers but indeed there are statistical indications that there is an end to the 'Covid-19 tunnel' in late spring.

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There is great risk in making forecasts using only a few and fairly volatile data points. Every week adds precious new data that enable better future predictions. I will leave this post alone and will post updates separately. In this way, we can see how close we got in predicting 6 weeks into the future based on 3 weeks in the past.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

How Much Do We Pay for Roads and Other Utilities?

Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation presented a comparison below in which I added my data from Honolulu, Hawaii. Thanks to the 12 solar panels on the roof of my house, and my moderate annual mileage (about 11,000 miles at 20 mpg), my costs are similar or better than average US costs.

However, the data below do not include vehicle registration fees which are part of the road charges we pay. My vehicle's registration is just under $30 per month but most light duty trucks pay about $500 for registration on Oahu, which is over $40 per month. Even with registration included, the conclusion is the same. Roads are a vital infrastructure utility and we pay less for them than we pay for other infrastructure utilities.


=========== Poole's article:What Americans Pay in Highway User Taxes  ===========

HNTB Corporation last month put out a useful analysis that compares what Americans pay for roads and highways (via gasoline taxes) with what they pay for other basic infrastructure, such as electricity, water, cell phones, broadband, etc. I was not surprised to see that their results showed a far lower annual cost to use roadways (excluding tolled facilities) than for other user-charge-funded infrastructure. But I was surprised by how low the reported gas tax charge was.

In my book, Rethinking America’s Highways (University of Chicago Press, 2018), I presented a similar comparison, using data mostly from 2012-2013. My results were very similar to HNTB’s, except for the highway number. The comparative monthly figures are shown above.

My numbers make the same basic point—that people don’t realize how little they pay for roads compared with other basic infrastructure. But my fuel tax figure is about double that of HNTB. The answer appears to be that all HNTB’s figures are per household, except for fuel tax, which is per driver. By contrast, all of mine, including fuel tax, are calculated on a per-household basis.

I’m grateful to HNTB for making this kind of comparison, but we should not be presenting an unfairly low figure for what households pay for roads. The main point is to get people to understand that even $46 per household per month is far below what they pay for other basic infrastructure and is not sufficient to cover the capital and operating costs of our extensive roadway network.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Uber's Days Are Numbered

I have been saying this privately and on my Facebook page for at least two years. Uber's days are numbered. We just don't know exactly when it'll collapse. It really depends on the amount of fools willing to help it burn capital. Now hear it from Princeton's Alain Kornhauser below. (The linked article dances around the truth and provides vague and false hope.)

"At the size that they are now, neither Lyft or Uber are close to break-even. If they grow, it gets worse (unit labor charges go up and average revenue goes down, fundamental supply - demand). Driverless in a sufficiently large Operational Design Domain to substantially increase their size in not going to happen soon enough to save them as they exist today. They were just too early.

Their only "survival" option is to downsize by a factor of at least 10, reduce their valuation/stock price by a factor of at least 10. Become a "nice business" for 5-10 years and wait for Driverless aTaxis to become a reality and start this all over again.

Driverless is a necessary condition to make this into a network non-labor intensive business. Alain"

More Reasons to End HART Rail at Middle Street


City Leaders: Plans For Rail Work Along Dillingham ‘Not Acceptable’

My take is as follows. There are three choices.

Plan AProceed as planned with terrible inconvenience for Kalihi, much more congestion for daily commuters, and financial ruin of many Kalihi stores. Also going to Costco, Home Depot and Best Buy will be a challenge with huge congestion effects on Nimitz. Hwy.

Plan BTiptoe around the neighborhood which will extend project delivery time and cost a lot more. This option is likely not feasible. Can't build a quarter billion of elevated infrastructure without closures and major disruptions. This will wind up being like choice A, but with a higher cost.

Plan CEnd rail at Middle Street. This is the only reasonable choice. The rail project is largely useless and it keeps generating pains and costs. Ending it at the city's Middle Street Inter-modal Center is workable.

Plan C is an imperative, in light of these two headlines.

  1. Next mayor will have mountains of problems, but mere molehill of money to pay for them. Yet, somebody has to do it. Hopefully he or she will make the hole a little smaller. (Not likely, based on past history.) I'm not interested. I was in 2008 and 2010 when the rail and homelessness holes were treatable. Now they are ever expanding craters...
  2. This article relates to the fleecing of the taxpayer for the Public Private Partnership to complete the 4 miles between Middle Street and Ala Moana Center: City leaders playing hide-the-pea in rail financing scheme. "Few believe the city will complete Oahu rail to Ala Moana Center for the $9.2 billion total it projects, and we hear much speculation about the real final construction tab. $10 billion? $12 billion? $15 billion?" [David Shapiro's Volcanic Ash commentary.]


Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hawaii Remains 47th Worst in Assessment of State Highways

Quoted in front page article of the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Panos Prevedouros, professor of transportation engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said that in general our rankings make sense. “Given our short distances and relatively slow speeds on highways, our fatality rate rank of 21st is above average (good) but it would be better with fewer DUIs and a motorcycle helmet law,” he wrote in an email. “As we know, pedestrian fatalities fluctuate a lot, but there has been a general increase for various reasons such as increased population age, increased tourism and traffic projects that provide a false sense of safety to vulnerable road users.”

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Porsches in my Addresses

Four addresses were I spent 30 years of my life had.... Porsches in them!



Saturday, August 3, 2019

State to Look at Building Parking for Laniakea Beach Park


UH Civil Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros said he and his student recently looked at the pedestrian and traffic patterns near Laniakea Beach. He said every hour, there’s an average of “1,000 vehicles, 300 pedestrians.” “No sidewalks, no signs, no nothing. That’s why this area has been a problem for safety and congestion for many, many years,” he said.“No sidewalks, no signs, no nothing. That’s why this area has been a problem for safety and congestion for many, many years.” Prevedouros said he supports any solutions — long-term or short. “I understand it takes a long time to install long time measures but it’s already been a long time and they’re mired in their paperwork," he said. We need to keep the heat on this subject!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wallet Hub: Cheap Car Insurance in 2019

Quoted in WalletHub.com analysis of car insurance.



Why do car insurance rates (and even providers) vary so much from state to state?

Mostly due to legal definitions of tort and liability as well as minimum required coverage.

Is it riskier to drive in some cities and states than others? Are the drivers themselves riskier?

Specific age groups and race groups have shown increased rates for one or several types of crashes. Some of these groups are over-represented in some states. Also very busy intersections, substandard freeway merges and high volume rural and mountainous roads have a higher incidence of crashes. The number of these "black spots" also varies by city and state. Weather creates variability in crashes too, i.e., there are more crashes in foggy and icy conditions; there are many states that do not have these conditions.

Is there anything that state and local governments do to promote cheap car insurance rates for their constituents?

Enact properly designed and enforced laws on speed, red light running, helmet usage, intoxication, etc. These vary widely from state to state and sometimes within a state.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Some Ways To Stop The Exodus To The Mainland

Quoted in an article on an important subject covered by Dan De Gracia.

Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the UH Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, says four dimensions are vital to retaining young people in Hawaii: “satisfying, well paying jobs; quality of infrastructure and built environment; housing availability and price; and the cost of living.”

I do have a few specific suggestions for the four items I mentioned to Dan, as follows:

  1. Satisfying, well paying jobs... There is plenty good news here. Not only we have the lowest unemployment in the nation, but by 2020 the baby boomer retirement will become stronger. Engineers, business majors and other professionals will fare very well in job selection and remuneration.
  2. Quality of infrastructure and built environment... This will remain a weakness as the state and city grapple with human centered issues (homeless and elder care), bad choices (rail and misguided energy endeavors) and generous promises (civil service employee retirement and health care) which leave very little left over for infrastructure improvements. Parenthetically, this is why I am no longer interested in running for executive office in Hawaii. My ability to deliver on these fundamental quality of life assets of society will be useless.
  3. Housing availability and price... Leadership is needed to develop the remainder a Kakaako not as real estate safety deposit boxes for foreigners but as vibrant community for young (under 35) and old (over 65) with a fifty year P3, public private partnership, to develop reasonably priced rentals for unmarried young adults and for seniors in apartments with 1 and 2 bedrooms priced at, say, $1,200 and $1,600, respectively, with only 0.5 parking stall per apartment rented at $100 per month, plus incentives for transit and bicycle use. Three-four phases of about 500 units each will make a huge impact, and the amount of subsidy will be modest. The P3 is necessary to ensure quick, high quality development of the units and continuous maintenance for the life of the 50 year agreement; we do not want this done as a public housing project but as a long term for profit development with some taxpayer subsidy.
  4. Cost of living... The subsidized apartments described in (3) above, in combination with adoption of non motorized transportation for short trips and car-sharing for longer ones, will allow the young to partly defeat Hawaii's high cost of living for a decade or more. Combined with a good income from the start, the young will be able to save enough to afford a house or large unit for developing a family and making Hawaii their forever home.

However, our politicians pay no attention and clearly have no sympathy for young adults making, say, $50,000 a year or more, who are contemplating the choice to stay in Hawaii, and barely make it, or leave Hawaii for better opportunities. They are busy with their liberal kuleana: Taxation, land control, environmental control, more control and regulation, the homeless, the poor, the "living wage" and the like. This tells us a lot about priorities and the future of Hawaii... For decades now, the young ones have heard this message loud and clear.