Sunday, September 15, 2019

Uber's Days Are Numbered

I have been saying this privately and on my Facebook page for at least two years. Uber's days are numbered. We just don't know exactly when it'll collapse. It really depends on the amount of fools willing to help it burn capital. Now hear it from Princeton's Alain Kornhauser below. (The linked article dances around the truth and provides vague and false hope.)

"At the size that they are now, neither Lyft or Uber are close to break-even. If they grow, it gets worse (unit labor charges go up and average revenue goes down, fundamental supply - demand). Driverless in a sufficiently large Operational Design Domain to substantially increase their size in not going to happen soon enough to save them as they exist today. They were just too early.

Their only "survival" option is to downsize by a factor of at least 10, reduce their valuation/stock price by a factor of at least 10. Become a "nice business" for 5-10 years and wait for Driverless aTaxis to become a reality and start this all over again.

Driverless is a necessary condition to make this into a network non-labor intensive business. Alain"

More Reasons to End HART Rail at Middle Street

City Leaders: Plans For Rail Work Along Dillingham ‘Not Acceptable’

My take is as follows. There are three choices.

Plan AProceed as planned with terrible inconvenience for Kalihi, much more congestion for daily commuters, and financial ruin of many Kalihi stores. Also going to Costco, Home Depot and Best Buy will be a challenge with huge congestion effects on Nimitz. Hwy.

Plan BTiptoe around the neighborhood which will extend project delivery time and cost a lot more. This option is likely not feasible. Can't build a quarter billion of elevated infrastructure without closures and major disruptions. This will wind up being like choice A, but with a higher cost.

Plan CEnd rail at Middle Street. This is the only reasonable choice. The rail project is largely useless and it keeps generating pains and costs. Ending it at the city's Middle Street Inter-modal Center is workable.

Plan C is an imperative, in light of these two headlines.

  1. Next mayor will have mountains of problems, but mere molehill of money to pay for them. Yet, somebody has to do it. Hopefully he or she will make the hole a little smaller. (Not likely, based on past history.) I'm not interested. I was in 2008 and 2010 when the rail and homelessness holes were treatable. Now they are ever expanding craters...
  2. This article relates to the fleecing of the taxpayer for the Public Private Partnership to complete the 4 miles between Middle Street and Ala Moana Center: City leaders playing hide-the-pea in rail financing scheme. "Few believe the city will complete Oahu rail to Ala Moana Center for the $9.2 billion total it projects, and we hear much speculation about the real final construction tab. $10 billion? $12 billion? $15 billion?" [David Shapiro's Volcanic Ash commentary.]

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Hawaii Remains 47th Worst in Assessment of State Highways

Quoted in front page article of the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

Panos Prevedouros, professor of transportation engineering at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said that in general our rankings make sense. “Given our short distances and relatively slow speeds on highways, our fatality rate rank of 21st is above average (good) but it would be better with fewer DUIs and a motorcycle helmet law,” he wrote in an email. “As we know, pedestrian fatalities fluctuate a lot, but there has been a general increase for various reasons such as increased population age, increased tourism and traffic projects that provide a false sense of safety to vulnerable road users.”

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Porsches in my Addresses

Four addresses were I spent 30 years of my life had.... Porsches in them!

Saturday, August 3, 2019

State to Look at Building Parking for Laniakea Beach Park

UH Civil Engineering Professor Panos Prevedouros said he and his student recently looked at the pedestrian and traffic patterns near Laniakea Beach. He said every hour, there’s an average of “1,000 vehicles, 300 pedestrians.” “No sidewalks, no signs, no nothing. That’s why this area has been a problem for safety and congestion for many, many years,” he said.“No sidewalks, no signs, no nothing. That’s why this area has been a problem for safety and congestion for many, many years.” Prevedouros said he supports any solutions — long-term or short. “I understand it takes a long time to install long time measures but it’s already been a long time and they’re mired in their paperwork," he said. We need to keep the heat on this subject!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wallet Hub: Cheap Car Insurance in 2019

Quoted in analysis of car insurance.

Why do car insurance rates (and even providers) vary so much from state to state?

Mostly due to legal definitions of tort and liability as well as minimum required coverage.

Is it riskier to drive in some cities and states than others? Are the drivers themselves riskier?

Specific age groups and race groups have shown increased rates for one or several types of crashes. Some of these groups are over-represented in some states. Also very busy intersections, substandard freeway merges and high volume rural and mountainous roads have a higher incidence of crashes. The number of these "black spots" also varies by city and state. Weather creates variability in crashes too, i.e., there are more crashes in foggy and icy conditions; there are many states that do not have these conditions.

Is there anything that state and local governments do to promote cheap car insurance rates for their constituents?

Enact properly designed and enforced laws on speed, red light running, helmet usage, intoxication, etc. These vary widely from state to state and sometimes within a state.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Some Ways To Stop The Exodus To The Mainland

Quoted in an article on an important subject covered by Dan De Gracia.

Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the UH Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, says four dimensions are vital to retaining young people in Hawaii: “satisfying, well paying jobs; quality of infrastructure and built environment; housing availability and price; and the cost of living.”

I do have a few specific suggestions for the four items I mentioned to Dan, as follows:

  1. Satisfying, well paying jobs... There is plenty good news here. Not only we have the lowest unemployment in the nation, but by 2020 the baby boomer retirement will become stronger. Engineers, business majors and other professionals will fare very well in job selection and remuneration.
  2. Quality of infrastructure and built environment... This will remain a weakness as the state and city grapple with human centered issues (homeless and elder care), bad choices (rail and misguided energy endeavors) and generous promises (civil service employee retirement and health care) which leave very little left over for infrastructure improvements. Parenthetically, this is why I am no longer interested in running for executive office in Hawaii. My ability to deliver on these fundamental quality of life assets of society will be useless.
  3. Housing availability and price... Leadership is needed to develop the remainder a Kakaako not as real estate safety deposit boxes for foreigners but as vibrant community for young (under 35) and old (over 65) with a fifty year P3, public private partnership, to develop reasonably priced rentals for unmarried young adults and for seniors in apartments with 1 and 2 bedrooms priced at, say, $1,200 and $1,600, respectively, with only 0.5 parking stall per apartment rented at $100 per month, plus incentives for transit and bicycle use. Three-four phases of about 500 units each will make a huge impact, and the amount of subsidy will be modest. The P3 is necessary to ensure quick, high quality development of the units and continuous maintenance for the life of the 50 year agreement; we do not want this done as a public housing project but as a long term for profit development with some taxpayer subsidy.
  4. Cost of living... The subsidized apartments described in (3) above, in combination with adoption of non motorized transportation for short trips and car-sharing for longer ones, will allow the young to partly defeat Hawaii's high cost of living for a decade or more. Combined with a good income from the start, the young will be able to save enough to afford a house or large unit for developing a family and making Hawaii their forever home.

However, our politicians pay no attention and clearly have no sympathy for young adults making, say, $50,000 a year or more, who are contemplating the choice to stay in Hawaii, and barely make it, or leave Hawaii for better opportunities. They are busy with their liberal kuleana: Taxation, land control, environmental control, more control and regulation, the homeless, the poor, the "living wage" and the like. This tells us a lot about priorities and the future of Hawaii... For decades now, the young ones have heard this message loud and clear.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin

Quoted in the article "Self-Driving Cars Another Nail In Rail’s Coffin "by Josh Mason

Panos Prevedouros, chairman of the UH civil and environmental engineering department, said at a Grassroot Institute of Hawaii panel on May 3 that the rail system is already obsolete because the share of public transit nationwide has already halved over the past few years that Uber and Lyft have grown exponentially.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Energy Revolution Won't Come from Renewables

Well stated reality check in Want an Energy Revolution?

"For a practical example of the physics-anchored gap between aspiration and reality, consider Florida Power & Light’s recently announced plan to replace an old gas-fired power station with the world’s biggest battery... this battery “farm” will be able to store just two minutes of Florida’s electricity needs. That’s not going to change the world, or even Florida."

Vinod Koshla (of Sun Microsystems fame) had a similar opinion in 2011: "Environmentalists are fiddling while Rome burns. Forget today’s green technologies like electric cars, wind turbines, solar cells and smart grids. None meets what Khosla calls the “Chindia price”—the price at which people in China and India will buy them without a subsidy. “Everything’s a toy until it reaches that point.” (The Economist, March 10, 2011)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

How Clean Is Your Electric Vehicle?

The correct answer is... it depends on the way that power is produced. For example, EVs are not very clean in Honolulu (top graph); hybrids do better. But Reno (bottom graph) has natural gas, geothermal and solar power production, so EVs there run much cleaner. Find out about EV pollution for your area by entering your zip code at the website of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Feels Good to Be Ahead of Fellow Researchers

This 2019 paper concluded as follows:

"HEVs are rapidly emerging as a potential alternative to the existing state of transportation due to their lower petroleum consumption and toxic emission. Strict CO2 emission laws and increased public awareness will propel HEVs to be the future of road transportation." (Singh, K.V., Bansal, H.O. & Singh, D. J. Mod. Transport, Springer (2019) 27: 77,

We reached a similar conclusion and for the same reasons four years earlier!

The HEV has the second lowest societal and consumer LCC compared with all other six vehicle types. Its ranking makes it a strong candidate as a transitional technology. Its low LCC resulted from the low emission impact cost, the improved fuel efficiency and the low manufacturing cost. In the short term, there are no barriers that should be overcome to increase the penetration of HEV in the market.  (Mitropoulos, L. and P. D. Prevedouros, Emissions and Cost Model for Urban Light Duty Vehicles. Transp. Res. Part D: Transport and Environment, Elsevier (2015) 41: 147-159, doi: 10.1016/j.trd.2015.09.024.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Unintended Hazards Of Red-Light Cameras

Danny De Gracia did a good job on this consequential topic of traffic safety, red-light running cameras. My fuller opinion of RLR cameras is below.

The correct way for improving road safety requires equal amounts of Engineering, Education and Enforcement. Most cities do basic engineering, a trifle of education and heavy enforcement; that’s what politicians (mostly lawyers) do. The result is ever increasing crashes and fatalities, despite the large safety improvements of vehicles and intelligent traffic signals. Vulnerable users such as pedestrians and bicyclists are most at risk; this is particularly true for Honolulu with its perennially suitable weather for walking and biking; and its ever increasing number of elderly motorists and pedestrians.

A recent study published at the journal of the American Society of Civil Engineers was titled “If you are serious about safety, measure it.” It reveals the dearth of traffic safety information at most US cities. The cities have no idea about pedestrian and bicycle movements and little to no idea about crash causality. They are not serious about safety, and Honolulu leads the pack with no studies but many political pronouncements of solutions. Effective traffic safety recommendations come only after detailed engineering analysis. Locally, the problem is addressed by the mayor, police and the legislators (i.e., their lobbyist advisors.)

Red light running is a complex solution that marginally addresses a city’s traffic safety problems. In some locales it generates more crashes as many motorists make early and sudden stops at the onset of the yellow light. Its complexity and ability to generate hundreds of citations per hour become both a large expense to the city and a large “tax” burden to its residents and visitors. These systems tend to cite ordinary drivers who cross the stop bar of an intersection a fraction of a second after the onset of the red light. These systems have no special ability to cite speeders, and intoxicated and distracted drivers who are the typical culprits in crashes. They also do not provide any extra protection to bicyclists and pedestrians.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Critics Renew Calls To Stop Honolulu Rail At Middle Street

One point I made that Marcel Honore did not include in his story is this: Express bus from Middle Street to UH will be faster (most of the time) than rail from Middle Street to Ala Moana and bus from Ala Moana to UH.

"Panos Prevedouros, a longtime rail opponent who chairs the UH engineering department, estimates ridership on the full Ala Moana line would be closer to 60,000 daily boardings. If the ridership is already that low, then stopping at Middle Street wouldn’t push it much lower, he said.

“I don’t know that the ridership would be dramatically different if you’re getting people beyond the choke points at Middle Street,” Prevedouros said Monday.

To Prevedouros and Roth, getting past the H1-H2 and Middle Street freeway merges are the best thing that rail could accomplish for commuters. Its value, they say, diminishes past that point, and it makes more sense to put passengers on buses from there, which many would transfer to from Ala Moana Center anyway."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Rearview Mirror: 5 Vehicular Tunnels Were Built out of 14 Proposed

Quoted in Bob Sigall's article Rearview Mirror: 5 vehicular tunnels were built out of 14 proposed

Pali Highway to UH
Panos Prevedouros, professor of transportation engineering at the University of Hawaii, proposed this tunnel in 2012 to alleviate H-1 congestion. One tunnel could provide two lanes in each direction, he said.
I was surprised that Bob Sigall discovered this tunnel proposal I studied with James Tokishi (a UHM CEE graduate) for HDOT. As far as I know, it has not been published anywhere. It was supposed to be a low clearance double-decker single bore tunnel (like A86 in Paris*), roughly from Pali Hwy. at Kuakini St. to Wilder Ave. at Dole St.

Honolulu to Ewa Beach

In the late 1960s a tunnel under the entrance to Pearl Harbor was proposed by the state House of Representatives to help leeward commuters get to town more quickly. It could shave 30- 40 minutes off their commute, some felt.

DOT Director Fujio “Fudge” Matsuda said the tunnel would be 7,000 feet long and cost over $750 million (in today’s dollars).

High maintenance costs, vulnerability to tidal wave inundation and Navy objections sank the idea then, but it gets resurrected every now and then. [That's right! See below]

Pearl Harbor Tunnel is a reversible 2-lane relatively short tunnel under the entrance of Pearl Harbor with cut-and-cover sections through the Honolulu International airport, priority lanes along Lagoon Drive and direct connection to the Nimitz Viaduct. Nimitz Viaduct is a 2-lane reversible “flyover” from the Keehi interchange to Iwilei.  Drive times from Ewa to downtown would be reduced from 65 to 11 minutes and the traffic reduction on Ft. Weaver Road and H-1 Fwy. would bring those commuter times down from 65 to 40 minutes.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Hawaii’s Infrastructure Gets D+ in 2019 ASCE Report

From a timely article in the Honolulu Star Advertiser: Panos Prevedouros, a transportation engineering professor at the University of Hawaii, said a new federal infrastructure plan “is very realistic,” but “I don’t know how much of this chunk will come down to us, because at 1.5 million (people), we’re really a very small state.”
He also takes issue with some of the grades given by the ASCE. “I believe some categories were doing even better than what is stated, and some others are probably worse,” he said.
Energy and solid-waste management are better than their C- and C grades, he said, “but then some areas such as roads and bridges — we would probably be below what is reported there.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Panos on TV

Long time ago I had time to keep track of my appearances on TV... 2003 to 2008.
Then in 2008 I run for mayor (try 1 of 2) and lost count... 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Randal O’Toole: Poor and Young People Are Fleeing Public Transit

Transit ridership has been declining now for four years, and the latest census data ... reveal that the biggest declines are among the groups that you might least expect: young people and low-income people. These results come from the American Community Survey, a survey of more than 3 million households a year conducted by the Census Bureau. Here are some of the key findings revealed by the data. …

The largest declines in transit commuting, both nationally and in the Washington DC urban area, are among younger people. Commuting forms only a part of transit ridership, but to the extent that declining ridership is due to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, those services are disproportionately used by people under the age of 35.

Although transit subsidies are often justified by the need to provide mobility to low-income people, the reality is that transit commuting by people in the lowest income classes is shrinking while transit commuting is growing fastest among people in the highest income classes.

Transit commuting is increasingly skewed to people who earn more than $75,000 a year. Even though only 19 percent of American workers were in this income class in 2017, they made up 26 percent of transit commuters, an increase from just 14 percent in 2005. Both the average and the median income of transit commuters are higher than those of all workers.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Honolulu Traffic Relief?

Quoted in three recent articles on traffic congestion relief authored by Marcel Honore in the Honolulu Civil Beat.

"Occasionally, I’ve heard locals lay the blame on the University of Hawaii Manoa, with its approximately 24,000 students, faculty and staff.

Officials there point out that the campus already staggers its start times. On average, less than 20 percent of the student body starts classes at 8 a.m., according to Dan Meisenzahl, the university’s spokesman. It’s the “poster child” for staggered hours, added Panos Prevedoruros, who chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering there.

The problem, both Prevedouros and Meisenzahl said, is the parking."

Panos Prevedouros, who chairs the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Civil Engineering Department, further suggested tolls and pricing schemes to discourage drivers from using the roads when they don’t have to.

“Theoretically this can all be done, but the devil is in the details,” said Panos Prevedouros, who chairs the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Hawaii Manoa.

Prevedouros supports congestion pricing. It could take hold in Hawaii with the growing local concern over climate change and interest in ways to reduce its impacts, he said.

“It’s a win-win,” Prevedouros said. “Put some costs to the congestion.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019

2018 Was a Disaster Year for Hawaii

... We survived all these:
  • Ballistic missile threat
  • Kauai floods and new US record for 24 hr rain
  • Aina Haina floods 
  • Big Island earthquakes 
  • Kilauea eruption and Fissure 8 crater
  • Six hurricanes; Lane, Olivia and Norman hit the state
  • Same old, same old election results
  • Record pedestrian deaths
  • Rail continued to burn a couple million dollars per day
Hawaii News Now got most of the story right.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Viral 2019 Ten Second Fireworks Video

A few seconds into 2019 I took a short video of the private (illegal) aerial fireworks that are so typical of new year's celebration in Honolulu, Hawaii from our Pacific Heights house lanai. About ten minutes later I posted in Facebook.

Next morning at 9 AM the video had about 8,000 which was more than any other video I posted in the last several years on Facebook. I thought "good going" and that's about it. But at about 11:30 AM the video had 33,000 views and KHON television station called with a request for permission to use the video in their news story. They did and their link of my video has over 60,000 views.

At 5 PM on January 1, my video views surpassed 100,000 and the viral run continued. Hawaii News Now also included my video in their January 1 coverage of fireworks in Honolulu.

24 hours later, at 9 AM on January 2, the video had 278,000 views and about 1,300 Likes. The viral run of this video is shown below for views and likes:
As of this writing on January 8, the video has 346,000 views and over 1,500 Likes.

Not a bad start to 2019. Happy New Year!

[For a comparison, my most viewed blog post is listed below; it has 8,100 reads:
Making the Most of the Rail Fiasco, posted in mid-2016]