Sunday, November 2, 2008

Proposed 19 Mile Rail for Oahu. Bottom Line Benefit: 1% Increase in Transit Trips

Since 2006 I have been saying that the proposed rail on Oahu is nothing short of a joke. The just-released 2008 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) proves this. Table 3-13 shows that transit share will increase from 6% to 7%. Auto based trips change from 82% to 80%, and walk-and-bike trips are 12%.

No administrator in his or her right mind would advocate the expenditure of five billion dollars for an 1% gain in the share of transit trips. The correct priorities would be to fix the sidewalks and build traffic and bike lanes. Not in Honolulu where administrators are proud to provide TheBoat at a taxpayer subsidy of $42 per trip!

Here is the breakdown of daily trips on weekdays as in DEIS page 3-18:
  • 2007 No Rail = 184,000 total transit trips (on bus)
  • 2030 No Rail = 226,000 total transit trips (on bus)
  • 2030 With Rail = 249,200 total transit trips (on bus and rail)

Notice the tiny benefit of rail. And to put it in perspective, that's out of more than four (4) million daily trips on Oahu!

This result evokes the paraphrasing of Churchill... Never before so many paid so much, to benefit so few and by so little.

Figure 3-1 shows that from 1984 to 2008, transit speed decreased by 1.5 mph. So in the last 22 years the average speed of the TheBus fell by 1.5 miles per hour. This is such a calamity that according to the Go-Rail-Go luminous spokespersons requires a five billion dollar rail to fix it!

The Notice of Intent or NOI is violated. This is the 2006 agreement between the Federal Transit Administration and the City and County of Honolulu. The NOI explicitly mentions a fixed guideway from Kapolei to the UH. The DEIS guideway starts well outside Kapolei and ends at Ala Moana Shopping Center. The 34 miles have become 19, but the alleged traffic benefits have more than doubled from the 2006 Alternatives Analysis!

It should be obvious that this DEIS will provide a lot of entertainment in the coming weeks. By law, comments are requested by January 7, 2009. But thanks to the careful planning of the Mufi administration, Oahu's public had the Sunday and Monday before the elections to read and understand 400 plus pages prior to making an educated choice at the polls.