Tuesday, August 12, 2008

City Propaganda on Rail -- Hanneman's Fake Facts 7 to 10 out of 10

Myth 7: Operating costs for rail are lower than for managed lanes.

Fact: Even if trains are automated, rail requires many more people than managed or HOT lanes behind the scenes: security, transit police, inspectors, custodial staff, and a huge array of maintenance workers for rail cars, propulsion and brake systems, escalators, elevators, systems computers, ticket machines, lighting systems and the rail yard.

The maintenance of the managed lanes roadbed is minuscule compared to the wear and tear of the thousands of mechanical and electronic components of the rail. All rail technology is foreign to Hawaii and expensive specialized labor will be necessary.

Managed lanes will not require more drivers of new express bus routes because the same express buses will be able to offer two instead of one trip per hour given that in the congested direction, the bus will be traveling at 55 instead of 25 miles per hour.

The bottom line is that 10 to 12 miles of a high occupancy highway (HOT lanes with express buses) has incomparably lower operational costs than a rail system with 20 to 30 stations.

Myth 8: There is no more space for buses on the road.

Fact: Only a few streets, such as Hotel Street and Kapiolani Boulevard have conditions that may come close to being the “river of buses” for a few minutes like Hanneman's pro-rail ads claim to be warning against. These ads actually are proof of mismanagement rather than a built-in problem with bus operations in general. For even more evidence against this myth, please see this short video.

The vast majority of streets only see a single bus every five or so minutes during the peak times, and in cases were the current number of buses are insufficient to handle the peak load, the number of buses on a route can be increased or the standard buses could be replaced by articulated buses.

My proposed HOT lanes alternative to rail would also strongly support increased bus ridership, as express buses would be able to travel from the H-1/H-2 merge to downtown Honolulu at free-flow (55mph) speeds, as well as serving the door-to-door needs that only buses are capable of. For example, there will be direct express buses from Makakilo, Kapolei, Ewa, Waipahu, Waikele and Mililani to downtown, Ala Moana, Waikiki and the UH every 10 to 20 minutes depending on the level of demand.

This makes another advantage of buses obvious: Buses can be added or reduced depending on how demand (passenger loads) change over time. Buses can do that. In 1990 Kapolei to town demand was zero, now it is X, in 2020 may be 3X. We can simply add three times as many buses, but rail is fixed and not scalable. There will be no third track for express or additional trains. In the way the Hanneman rail is being designed, its maximum capacity is fixed from day 1 to decades into the future.

Myth 9: HOT lanes would only create more traffic by putting more cars on the road.

Fact: Unless there are people who go driving for fun during rush hour, all the HOT lanes will do is take the same people to their same destination, where they would park in the same parking stall, but in a fraction of the time that it takes for the same trip now. In order for there to be more cars on the road, there would need to be more jobs created in downtown Honolulu and more people commuting to those jobs. There is no plan to add jobs to downtown Honolulu.

Myth 10: There is no more space to park in downtown Honolulu.

Fact: First, as seen in the response to Myth 9, the high occupancy highway does not require additional parking downtown unless the number of jobs there also increases. However, there are lots both in and around downtown right now that have hundreds of empty stalls. Some of these lots could even be developed into larger parking structures to provide more parking and mixed use development, if needed.

Furthermore, a couple of these lots may be developed underground and a mini-tunnel can connect them to the end of the HOT lanes, so several hundred vehicles will go to park there directly and in fact "disappear" from the surface streets of Honolulu.

The picture below shows large parking lots east of Punchbowl Street. As of this writing in August 2008, one of the parking lots shown is used by a Honda dealer to store several hundred cars.


Anonymous said...

Those areas have high rise buildings on them.

Panos Prevedouros said...

No they do not. One of the three parking lots is so underutilized that it serves as a storage space for brand new Hondas. Please go on-site and verify for yourself.