Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Aren’t Younger Americans Driving Anymore?

The nation's congestion problem has lessened largely due to youth unemployment and high fuel prices. Read this interesting Washington Post blog for more details.

One has to be careful to not overreact to the sharp change in the trend of miles driven because the graph is population adjusted. It shows the rate of driving per person. The rate is dropping but population is growing, so the next effect is likely a 1% to 5% reduction in traffic, depending on the area.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Do Europeans Use Transit a Lot? Perhaps, but Only in the Central City.

Recently I stumbled on an analysis of commutes in the second largest city in Germany, Hamburg.  It's an old and interesting city that I had the chance to visit it in the late 1980s when there were two Germanys, West with capital Bonn, and East with capital (half of) Berlin.

Germany is a country with substantial use of rail both in and between cities.  Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany. The county where Hamburg is situated has a population of about 1.8 million and the six surrounding suburban counties have a population of 1.5 million.

Unlike US cities which are characterized by very high (employment) density in the downtown and medium-to-low (population) density in areas surrounding the downtown, Hamburg and most old European cities have high (population and employment) densities over many acres. This makes the development of multiple rail lines meaningful and productive.  Their rail lines are compact in length and are supplemented by bus or tram. As a result, transit use is moderate.

Their suburbs have a low use of transit. Let's look at the shares in the image below.

In the city of Hamburg, 33% use car modes, 19% use transit and 38% walk or bike.  What's the largest difference between Europe and US. Is it transit use? No! It's Walk and Bike.

Walking and biking to/from work is more than 35% in Europe and less than 5% in the US.

In the suburbs of Hamburg transit drops to 7%. TheBus in Honolulu has a 6% share. Again the main difference is that even in the suburbs Europeans do a lot by walking and biking: 28% compared to less than 2% in US suburbs.

Some dense American cities like Honolulu look a lot like old European city suburbs. Like in Europe, the share of transit in the suburbs is rarely if ever over 10%. Investing on rail transit in suburban Europe or US cities is a poor decision both financially and for transportation productivity.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sierra Club Used Wrong Population Projections in Support of Honolulu’s Rail

If one wants to keep things simple, then it could be said that the base of Sierra Club's support for rail is simply a case of garbage in, garbage out.  In other words, garbage data were used to come to a garbage conclusion.  However, I believe that data were sufficiently twisted to support the underlying car-hating philosophy of "environmentalists."

In this case, the bias is clear because supporting rail (to kill auto) causes huge damage to prime agricultural land. The Sierra Club simply cannot have it both ways.

Explanations are provided in my article in the Hawaii Reporter.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

100 Thousand!

The FIXOAHU blog has reached 100,000 all time visits today. That's way more than the readers of my books and scientific articles.

Mahalo, Thank You, Efharisto for reading my opinions from time to time.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Panel Discussion on Rail at University of Hawaii-Manoa

  • Rail opponents UH Professors Randall Roth (Law) and Panos Prevedouros (Engineering)
  • Rail proponents Dan Grabauskas, CEO of HART and Ivan Lui-Kwan, HART Board Member

Here's an independent "post-debate" assessment:

Dr. Prevedouros,

Thank you immensely for your participation in the April 9 rail debate at UH-Manoa.  There is no doubt that you and Professor Roth prevailed.  You both showed the audience and Daniel Grabauskas and Ivan Lui-Kwan that the case against rail is very powerful.

It would be ideal if the truth about rail could continue to be made known to the public, many of whom voted to approve steel wheels on steel rail without really understanding the downsides of rail.  The more people learn the whole truth about rail, the more ready they could become to rise up and demand that the persons responsible for foisting rail on the public be held accountable when it becomes apparent that the billions spent on this scheme have irretrievably gone into a gigantic "black hole."  I would hate to see the culprits simply ride off into the sunset.

Again, many thanks for your invaluable efforts to expose the monumental steel wheels blunder.

K. Hirata

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Big Rooftop Solar Panels Make Sense in Hawaii - Without Any Subsidies!

Question: Does $150,000 installed cost for approximately 45 KW make sense?

Answer: Yes, but only in Honolulu.

Explanation: There’s a lot involved, so off to Hawaii Reporter for the full article.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Want a Fine Electric Car? Not in Hawaii.

The Tesla S is a fine EV, comparable to a BMW 5 series or a Mercedes S class.  Tesla argues that their model S can also be cheaper than its competitors. It has developed a calculator to prove it, based on location, incentives, fuel and electricity prices, and owner annual mileage.

I looked into the Tesla S and made some calculations. A couple of months ago I mentioned on the Rick Hamada Program on KHVH that my estimates indicated that in Hawaii if I was choosing between a $50,000 Tesla S and a $50,000 BMW 528i,  I should buy the BMW. (Cars were optioned so that with EV incentives they came with approximately the same "out the door" cost.)

This is the outcome of outrageous electricity prices which, thanks to renewable energy mandates and meddling politicians who pick winners (for their own self-interests,) are continuously escalating,

As you can see below, the true cost to own a base Tesla S in Hawaii is 17% more than California and 34% more than Colorado (excluding applicable taxes, insurance and registration differences, etc.)

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Lack of New Warming Is a Surprise -- Recall Al Gore!

These two graphs from a major article in The Economist (see source below) clearly indicate that:
  1.  Global Warming occurred between 1985 and 1998, but Earth's temp has remained fairly steady for 15 years now!
  2. The predictions of Global Warming models are incorrect.
  3. The yellow lines indicate the year when Al Gore and IPCC received the Nobel Prize "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change" (the bold is mine.)
Global Warming alarmism has caused the inappropriate issuance of two Nobel Prizes (Gore and Obama) and the unnecessary brainwashing of millions of young children at their schools.  Global Warming alarmism gave more support to "environmentalists" whose most prominent successes are to pick the wrong winners (e.g., cost ineffective renewables and rail systems) and make life more expensive in first world populations, and more difficult to rise out of poverty for third world populations.

Now The Economist from Europe, where the core support of Global Warming alarmism is located, has provided some reasonable perspective which shows that:
  • There is no denying that some Global Warming (GW) has taken place.
  • GW has remained stable for at least a decade.
  • Models used by the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) predict the wrong trend.
  • GW did not increase despite the billions of tons of anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 emissions
  • Arctic ice does melt to unusual levels in the summer months but no appreciable sea level rise has been recorded.
  • Nobody knows what the real effects of an increasingly less possible GW are.
The main article of The Economist is titled Climate science: A sensitive matter -- Here are a few interesting quotes from this comprehensive article:
  • "Temperatures fluctuate over short periods, but this lack of new warming is a surprise."
  • "The mismatch between rising greenhouse-gas emissions and not-rising temperatures is among the biggest puzzles in climate science just now."
  • Despite all the work on [the planet's] sensitivity [to carbon dioxide emissions,] no one really knows how the climate would react if temperatures rose by as much as 4°C.
Three days later The Economist added a short article to calm down Europe's socialists and Obama-like pro carbon taxation politicians (see last bullet below). These politicians need to keep people focused on secondary problems like the GW, because primary problems such as huge budget deficits and problematic pension and health care systems cannot be addressed in the socialist realm of thought. The short article is titled Global warming: Apocalypse perhaps a little later. Exact quotes below. The bold section is mine.
  • The science that points towards a sensitivity lower than models have previously predicted is still tentative. The error bars are still there. The risk of severe warming—an increase of 3°C, say—though diminished, remains real.
  • Bad climate policies, such as backing renewable energy with no thought for the cost, or insisting on biofuels despite the damage they do, are bad whatever the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases. (Thank you for this. I am sorry to inform you that California, Hawaii, The Blue Planet Foundation and several "environmentalists" do not subscribe to reason, cost-effectiveness analysis or The Economist.)
  • Good policies—strategies for adapting to higher sea levels and changing weather patterns, investment in agricultural resilience, research into fossil-fuel-free ways of generating and storing energy—are wise precautions even in a world where sensitivity is low.
  • Put a price on carbon and ensure that, slowly but surely, it gets ratcheted up for decades to come. 
I enjoy The Economist for its variety of subjects, reasonable depth of analysis and humor.  I'm sorry, humour. I was disappointed that nowhere did they ask for a recall of Al Gore's and IPCC's Nobel. The two shared a Nobel Prize in 2007.