Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Parsons Brinckerhoff Get's It Right, Worldwide, except for Honolulu

You've got to love it when one of the nation's largest engineering firms, Parsons Brinckerhoff , with a tradition in rail systems (and in large project cost overruns as of late) actually disseminates the right mass transit propaganda worldwide.

For the last 20 years Parsons Brinckerhoff have done all rail studies in Honolulu. This time around Parsons Brinckerhoff helps Hannemann misrepresent the system by calling it "Light Rail" when in reality they are designing a fully elevated Heavy Rail system. Another correct term for it is Rapid Transit. Light Rail is a modern tramway that operates at grade or on street lanes. None of this is true for the Hannemann rail.

To their credit, Parsons Brinckerhoff did propose a bus rapid transit (BRT) system for Honolulu during the Harris administration and the Regional BRT would have made a lot of good for Leeward Oahu commutes. Alas, once again politicians overrode engineers, and instead of the regional BRT, they put the cart in front of the horse and started with a disastrous In-town BRT deployment with narrow lanes on Kuhio Avenue, and permanent lane takings from Kapiolani and Ala Moana Boulevards. and I were much in favor of the Regional BRT but opposed to the Harris' version of the In-town BRT, and thankfully, that traffic nightmare was permanently defeated when the Federal Transit Administration revoked its Record on Decision and all possible funding for the project.

The reader should note that Cheryl Soon, director of the city's Department of Transportation Services during the Harris administration said the following in 2000 based on Parsons Brinckerhoff study recommendations on the same corridor that Hannemann proposes rail today:

The light rail transit alternative was dropped because subsequent analyses revealed that Bus Rapid Transit could accomplish virtually all of the objectives of light rail transit at substantially less cost.

And now a quote from Parsons Brinckerhoff literature: Bus Rapid Transit—The Next Generation of Public Transportation

Around the world, transit owners are turning to bus rapid transit (BRT) toprovide communities with efficient, flexible, affordable transportation.

From Boston to Beijing to Brisbane, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) is supporting transit providers with a full range of planning, design and construction management services.

Whether in congested urban areas or suburban travel corridors, BRT is attracting new riders by combining the high-performance characteristics of rail with the flexibility and economy of buses. Transit providers are discovering that BRT achieves the excellent quality of service that customers associate with rail—but at significantly reduced cost.

On BRT projects worldwide, system owners have chosen PB to help tailor BRT technology to local needs. To the riding public, BRT looks, feels and performs like rapid transit.

Service is frequent, speedy and comfortable. To the owner, BRT is an innovative alternative that can be built faster and with less expense than comparable rail systems.