Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It’s Not Too Late to Build Rail Better

Quoted in Honolulu Civil Beat's editorial board opinion about HART.

Honolulu’s prophets of doom for the rail project — Randall Roth, Cliff Slater and Panos Prevedouros — believe they were right all along that the city’s ambitious mass-transit plan is a mess.

Roth, Slater and Prevedouros have imagined exactly that. And that is why they’ve accepted the reality that rail is “happening,” as Prevedouros put it in a recent editorial board meeting with Civil Beat. It comes in the wake of the Hawaii Legislature approving a $2.4 billion funding package to continue building the rail line, now pegged at $8.17 billion.

What Roth and Co. are are not accepting, however, is that the city and the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation should go ahead and build all of the planned 20 miles and 21 stations. Instead, they want rail to stop at Middle Street.

But what Roth, Slater and Prevedouros argue now is that, because Middle Street is home to Oahu Transit Services — home of TheBus, The Handi-Van and the Kalihi-Palama Bus — it can be the future of what they envision as a multimodal hub.

What’s central to this thesis is that transportation technologies and business models are developing faster than once thought possible. Ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft have altered the way consumers view short trips, while automated buses and cars are already being tested and deployed.

Roth and Co. believe the FTA would be open to a new plan. The built guideway could eventually be modified to accommodate shared or automatic transportation systems.