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.

======
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.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin

Quoted in the article "Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin "by Josh Mason

Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the UH civil and environmental engineering department, said at a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii panel on May 3 that the rail system is already obsolete because the share of public transit nationwide has already halved over the past few years that Uber and Lyft have grown exponentially.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Energy Revolution Won't Come from Renewables

Well stated reality check in Want an Energy Revolution?

"For a practical example of the physics-anchored gap between aspiration and reality, consider Florida Power & Light’s recently announced plan to replace an old gas-fired power station with the world’s biggest battery... this battery “farm” will be able to store just two minutes of Florida’s electricity needs. That’s not going to change the world, or even Florida."

Vinod Koshla (of Sun Microsystems fame) had a similar opinion in 2011: "Environmentalists are fiddling while Rome burns. Forget today’s green technologies like electric cars, wind turbines, solar cells and smart grids. None meets what Khosla calls the “Chindia price”—the price at which people in China and India will buy them without a subsidy. “Everything’s a toy until it reaches that point.” (The Economist, March 10, 2011)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How Clean Is Your Electric Vehicle?

The correct answer is... it depends on the way that power is produced. For example, EVs are not very clean in Honolulu (top graph); hybrids do better. But Reno (bottom graph) has natural gas, geothermal and solar power production, so EVs there run much cleaner. Find out about EV pollution for your area by entering your zip code at the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Monday, April 29, 2019

Feels Good to Be Ahead of Fellow Researchers

This 2019 paper concluded as follows:

"HEVs are rapidly emerging as a potential alternative to the existing state of transportation due to their lower petroleum consumption and toxic emission. Strict CO2 emission laws and increased public awareness will propel HEVs to be the future of road transportation." (Singh, K.V., Bansal, H.O. & Singh, D. J. Mod. Transport, Springer (2019) 27: 77, doi.org/10.1007/s40534-019-0184-3)

We reached a similar conclusion and for the same reasons four years earlier!

The HEV has the second lowest societal and consumer LCC compared with all other six vehicle types. Its ranking makes it a strong candidate as a transitional technology. Its low LCC resulted from the low emission impact cost, the improved fuel efficiency and the low manufacturing cost. In the short term, there are no barriers that should be overcome to increase the penetration of HEV in the market.  (Mitropoulos, L. and P. D. Prevedouros, Emissions and Cost Model for Urban Light Duty Vehicles. Transp. Res. Part D: Transport and Environment, Elsevier (2015) 41: 147-159, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2015.09.024.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Unintended Hazards Of Red-Light Cameras

Danny De Gracia did a good job on this consequential topic of traffic safety, red-light running cameras. My fuller opinion of RLR cameras is below.

The correct way for improving road safety requires equal amounts of Engineering, Education and Enforcement. Most cities do basic engineering, a trifle of education and heavy enforcement; that’s what politicians (mostly lawyers) do. The result is ever increasing crashes and fatalities, despite the large safety improvements of vehicles and intelligent traffic signals. Vulnerable users such as pedestrians and bicyclists are most at risk; this is particularly true for Honolulu with its perennially suitable weather for walking and biking; and its ever increasing number of elderly motorists and pedestrians.

A recent study published at the journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers was titled “If you are serious about safety, measure it.” It reveals the dearth of traffic safety information at most US cities. The cities have no idea about pedestrian and bicycle movements and little to no idea about crash causality. They are not serious about safety, and Honolulu leads the pack with no studies but many political pronouncements of solutions. Effective traffic safety recommendations come only after detailed engineering analysis. Locally, the problem is addressed by the mayor, police and the legislators (i.e., their lobbyist advisors.)

Red light running is a complex solution that marginally addresses a city’s traffic safety problems. In some locales it generates more crashes as many motorists make early and sudden stops at the onset of the yellow light. Its complexity and ability to generate hundreds of citations per hour become both a large expense to the city and a large “tax” burden to its residents and visitors. These systems tend to cite ordinary drivers who cross the stop bar of an intersection a fraction of a second after the onset of the red light. These systems have no special ability to cite speeders, and intoxicated and distracted drivers who are the typical culprits in crashes. They also do not provide any extra protection to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Critics Renew Calls To Stop Honolulu Rail At Middle Street

One point I made that Marcel Honore did not include in his story is this: Express bus from Middle Street to UH will be faster (most of the time) than rail from Middle Street to Ala Moana and bus from Ala Moana to UH.

"Panos Prevedouros, a longtime rail opponent who chairs the UH engineering department, estimates ridership on the full Ala Moana line would be closer to 60,000 daily boardings. If the ridership is already that low, then stopping at Middle Street wouldn’t push it much lower, he said.

“I don’t know that the ridership would be dramatically different if you’re getting people beyond the choke points at Middle Street,” Prevedouros said Monday.

To Prevedouros and Roth, getting past the H1-H2 and Middle Street freeway merges are the best thing that rail could accomplish for commuters. Its value, they say, diminishes past that point, and it makes more sense to put passengers on buses from there, which many would transfer to from Ala Moana Center anyway."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Rearview Mirror: 5 Vehicular Tunnels Were Built out of 14 Proposed

Quoted in Bob Sigall's article Rearview Mirror: 5 vehicular tunnels were built out of 14 proposed

Pali Highway to UH
Panos Prevedouros, professor of transportation engineering at the University of Hawaii, proposed this tunnel in 2012 to alleviate H-1 congestion. One tunnel could provide two lanes in each direction, he said.
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I was surprised that Bob Sigall discovered this tunnel proposal I studied with James Tokishi (a UHM CEE graduate) for HDOT. As far as I know, it has not been published anywhere. It was supposed to be a low clearance double-decker single bore tunnel (like A86 in Paris*), roughly from Pali Hwy. at Kuakini St. to Wilder Ave. at Dole St.

https://tunnels.piarc.org/en/system/files/media/file/appendix_2.08_-_france_-_paris_-_duplex_a86.pdf



Honolulu to Ewa Beach

In the late 1960s a tunnel under the entrance to Pearl Harbor was proposed by the state House of Representatives to help leeward commuters get to town more quickly. It could shave 30- 40 minutes off their commute, some felt.

DOT Director Fujio “Fudge” Matsuda said the tunnel would be 7,000 feet long and cost over $750 million (in today’s dollars).

High maintenance costs, vulnerability to tidal wave inundation and Navy objections sank the idea then, but it gets resurrected every now and then. [That's right! See below]

Pearl Harbor Tunnel is a reversible 2-lane relatively short tunnel under the entrance of Pearl Harbor with cut-and-cover sections through the Honolulu International airport, priority lanes along Lagoon Drive and direct connection to the Nimitz Viaduct. Nimitz Viaduct is a 2-lane reversible “flyover” from the Keehi interchange to Iwilei.  Drive times from Ewa to downtown would be reduced from 65 to 11 minutes and the traffic reduction on Ft. Weaver Road and H-1 Fwy. would bring those commuter times down from 65 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Hawaii’s Infrastructure Gets D+ in 2019 ASCE Report

From a timely article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser: Panos Prevedouros, a transportation engineering professor at the University of Hawaii, said a new federal infrastructure plan “is very realistic,” but “I don’t know how much of this chunk will come down to us, because at 1.5 million (people), we’re really a very small state.”
He also takes issue with some of the grades given by the ASCE. “I believe some categories were doing even better than what is stated, and some others are probably worse,” he said.
Energy and solid-waste management are better than their C- and C grades, he said, “but then some areas such as roads and bridges — we would probably be below what is reported there.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Panos on TV

Long time ago I had time to keep track of my appearances on TV... 2003 to 2008.
Then in 2008 I run for mayor (try 1 of 2) and lost count... 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Randal O’Toole: Poor and Young People Are Fleeing Public Transit

Transit ridership has been declining now for four years, and the latest census data ... reveal that the biggest declines are among the groups that you might least expect: young people and low-income people. These results come from the American Community Survey, a survey of more than 3 million households a year conducted by the Census Bureau. Here are some of the key findings revealed by the data. …

The largest declines in transit commuting, both nationally and in the Washington DC urban area, are among younger people. Commuting forms only a part of transit ridership, but to the extent that declining ridership is due to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, those services are disproportionately used by people under the age of 35.

Although transit subsidies are often justified by the need to provide mobility to low-income people, the reality is that transit commuting by people in the lowest income classes is shrinking while transit commuting is growing fastest among people in the highest income classes.

Transit commuting is increasingly skewed to people who earn more than $75,000 a year. Even though only 19 percent of American workers were in this income class in 2017, they made up 26 percent of transit commuters, an increase from just 14 percent in 2005. Both the average and the median income of transit commuters are higher than those of all workers.

Source

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Honolulu Traffic Relief?

Quoted in three recent articles on traffic congestion relief authored by Marcel Honore in the Honolulu Civil Beat.



"Occasionally, I’ve heard locals lay the blame on the University of Hawaii Manoa, with its approximately 24,000 students, faculty and staff.

Officials there point out that the campus already staggers its start times. On average, less than 20 percent of the student body starts classes at 8 a.m., according to Dan Meisenzahl, the university’s spokesman. It’s the “poster child” for staggered hours, added Panos Prevedoruros, who chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering there.

The problem, both Prevedouros and Meisenzahl said, is the parking."




Panos Prevedouros, who chairs the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Civil Engineering Department, further suggested tolls and pricing schemes to discourage drivers from using the roads when they don’t have to.




“Theoretically this can all be done, but the devil is in the details,” said Panos Prevedouros, who chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Prevedouros supports congestion pricing. It could take hold in Hawaii with the growing local concern over climate change and interest in ways to reduce its impacts, he said.

“It’s a win-win,” Prevedouros said. “Put some costs to the congestion.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019

2018 Was a Disaster Year for Hawaii

... We survived all these:
  • Ballistic missile threat
  • Kauai floods and new US record for 24 hr rain
  • Aina Haina floods 
  • Big Island earthquakes 
  • Kilauea eruption and Fissure 8 crater
  • Six hurricanes; Lane, Olivia and Norman hit the state
  • Same old, same old election results
  • Record pedestrian deaths
  • Rail continued to burn a couple million dollars per day
Hawaii News Now got most of the story right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Viral 2019 Ten Second Fireworks Video

A few seconds into 2019 I took a short video of the private (illegal) aerial fireworks that are so typical of new year's celebration in Honolulu, Hawaii from our Pacific Heights house lanai. About ten minutes later I posted in Facebook.

Next morning at 9 AM the video had about 8,000 which was more than any other video I posted in the last several years on Facebook. I thought "good going" and that's about it. But at about 11:30 AM the video had 33,000 views and KHON television station called with a request for permission to use the video in their news story. They did and their link of my video has over 60,000 views.

At 5 PM on January 1, my video views surpassed 100,000 and the viral run continued. Hawaii News Now also included my video in their January 1 coverage of fireworks in Honolulu.

24 hours later, at 9 AM on January 2, the video had 278,000 views and about 1,300 Likes. The viral run of this video is shown below for views and likes:
As of this writing on January 8, the video has 346,000 views and over 1,500 Likes.

Not a bad start to 2019. Happy New Year!


[For a comparison, my most viewed blog post is listed below; it has 8,100 reads:
Making the Most of the Rail Fiasco, posted in mid-2016]

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Researchers Hope Distracted Driving Study Changes Policies

KHON's Sara Mattison covered our recent research endeavors on driving distraction testsIt was a win-win for UH students and Charley's Taxi which provided the advanced driving simulator and 230 drivers. This was a public-private partnership for success.

"UH Professor Panos Prevedouros says this study is significant because they collected data from more than 200 professional drivers. That's bigger than most samples of this type of research. The information also shows just how bad distracted driving can be."

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Driverless Vehicles: Two Radically Different Visions

I concur with Bob Poole's commentary published as follows:

Surface Transportation Innovations
 
By Robert W. Poole, Jr.
Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow and Director of Transportation Policy
October 2018


There is no question that personal transportation will undergo significant changes in coming decades. Three such changes will be the advent of affordable electric vehicles, fully autonomous vehicles, and mobility as a service (MaaS) in which people opt to rely on shared vehicles rather than individually owned vehicles. These are separate changes, which may well arrive on different time scales and with different degrees of market penetration.
Several times in recent months, various people have sent me a report that links all three together via a dramatic scenario. The report comes from RethinkX and is called “Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030,” released in May 2017. Its headline claims include the following:
  • Fully autonomous vehicles (presumably SAE Level 5) will achieve regulatory approval and be on the market in 2020.
  • By 2030, those AVs will provide 95% of all [surface] passenger miles of travel.
  • Those 95% will all be in shared vehicles (Mobility as a Service), rather than in personally owned AVs.
  • These AVs will all be electric, and will last 500,000 to 700,000 miles on their initial battery pack.
These assumptions are shared by virtually no one actually working on AVs, whether at technology companies or traditional auto companies. The past year has seen a growing number of articles explaining that full autonomy (on all kinds of roads, in all kinds of weather, etc.) is turning out to be a much harder problem than many researchers expected. Most expect gradual introduction of AV features in the next decade, with full Level 5 not being likely until at least 2035 or beyond.

As I wrote in a recent column for Public Works Financing, there is no necessary connection between electric propulsion and autonomy: neither one depends on the other. The current generation of EVs costs nearly twice as much as comparable non-EV vehicles, seriously limiting mass-market appeal.

Likewise, as of now, autonomy itself requires a large array of costly sensors and very complex artificial intelligence software, Hence, RethinkX’s idea that electric AVs will be cheaper than conventional cars by 2020 looks to me like a pipe dream. In addition, the idea that the original battery pack will last 500,000 to 700,000 miles (a key to Rethink’s lower ownership cost estimate) is unproven. (The Toyota Prius battery pack has a 10-year or 150,000-mile warranty, while the Tesla Model 3 warranty is for 8 years of 100,000 miles.)

A far more realistic assessment of future mobility was released in May 2018 by S&P Global Ratings, “The Road Ahead for Autonomous Vehicles.” S&P’s analysts conclude that “mass adoption of driverless autonomous vehicles (AVs) [is] still decades away.” By contrast, they expect a faster penetration rate of electric vehicles (EVs), especially if there continue to be government “incentives” (subsidies) for those purchasing them. (S&P’s EV projections are somewhat exaggerated by including plug-in hybrids.)

S&P developed three scenarios (low/medium/high) for AV penetration, depending on a array of assumptions about technology, the price premium over conventional cars, extent of government “incentives,” growth in ride-sharing/ride-hailing (Mobility as a Service), etc. For the 2020 to 2030 period, the fraction of AVs in the total light-vehicle fleet by 2030 is projected at <1 2="" and="" av="" be="" fleet="" fraction="" high.="" in="" low="" medium="" of="" p="" phase="" scenario="" the="" vehicle="" would="">
I find the assumptions underlying the three scenarios to be reasonable, and a number of implications for highways and travel emerge. First, even in the high (“disruptive”) scenario, only 35% of the light vehicle fleet will be AVs by 2040. So that means our roadways and highways are going to have to deal with a mixed fleet for many decades. That is far different from popular media visions of a near-term all-AV future. Second, S&P suggests that the early impacts of Level 5 AVs will be felt most by transit agencies and parking enterprises. Between 2020 and 2030, S&P expects an increase in urban traffic congestion, due partly to the continued growth of ride-hailing. (Incidentally, a new paper by Alejandro Henao and Wesley E. Marshall, “The Impact of Ride-Hailing on Vehicle Miles Traveled,” projects that “ride-hailing leads to approximately 83.5% more VMT” than would have existed had ride-hailing not emerged.) As connected AV market penetration increases beyond 2030, S&P expects “lane capacity could increase by 5% to 7% by 2030-2035 [due to] an increase in platooning.” That would partially offset the impact on highways from increased VMT due to ride-hailing and increased personal travel by those who cannot drive today (very old, very young, and disabled).


These are still early days for EVs, AVs, and MaaS. The sober analysis from S&P is a far better guide to thinking about the implications of these developments than the blue-sky vision of RethinkX

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Dramatic Oil Based Sea Level Rise Is Not Possible


A major article on climate change published in the science journal NATURE concluded as follows:

"The study concludes that a moderate amount of warming, on the order of 2°C, or 3.6°F, sustained for millennia, would cause significant melting of the interior ice that lies below sea level in this region [Antarctica], raising global sea levels by 3-4 meters, or up to 13 feet."

However, there will be no oil and fossil fuels left to burn a few hundred years from now. See graph of oil reserves from The Economist, below. In addition, technology moves fast towards cleaner options, and heavy polluters like China and India cannot afford to burn coal uncontrollably because their large cities are already suffocating; more on this at The Future of Oil

Therefore, oil based global warming over millennia is not possible!