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11选5机选摇一摇Offering cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion in Honolulu

April 30, 2008.

Great column by Jerry Coffee in MidWeek today:

Jerry concludes his column with "Dear readers, these questions need to be answered, and we need to educate ourselves on potentially the most fiscally disastrous state project of our generation - and likely generations to come. First and foremost, please go to www.stoprailnow.com to download the petition, ask family, friends and neighbors to sign it with you, and then mail in ASAP. Check out hymskdr.cn to read recent articles, including one in April 22 U.S. News & World Report: “Mass transit systems drain city coffers.”

Finally, please go to www.midweek.com, scroll down the left side to “politics,” click on “Coffee Break” then click on “archives” (below the five most recent articles) and review my columns on this issue: Feb. 20, ‘08; Aug. 29, ‘07; and Jan. 10, ‘08. This is about time we spend unnecessarily in traffic each day and about time we don’t spend with our families.

And it’s about time we have our say.

 

April 26, 2008.

We now have the videos of the proposed underpasses:

Dr. Panos Prevedouros and his students ran long micro simulations of the effects on traffic of building five underpasses in urban Honolulu at an average cost of $10 million each. From these programs he has produce ten short videos that allow us to see the impacts on traffic. It is essential that you spend some time with these before and after videos to understand the full effect.

 

April 25, 2008.

STOP RAIL NOW strikes a chord:

They tell us that they are averaging over 30,000 hits daily on their website, with huge downloads of the petition forms. We support this effort 100 percent and urge you go to the site if you have not already.

They also have excellent coverage of the latest rail news at

 

Where matters stand right now:

With the defeat of Bill 80 on Wednesday, it does not mean that it is now the Mayor's decision as our newspapers have described. Instead, the Council has 90 days to choose a technology or the decision then rests with the Mayor. But there is another issue so far not discussed and that is the attitude of the federal government when there is no political consensus for a project of this magnitude. FTA obviously wants to see that there is political consensus in a community otherwise, sooner or later, elected officials will turn against a project and the FTA will have egg on their faces.

Accordingly, the Mayor will have to find to way to get consensus or this project is not going to play out.

 

A spontaneous unsubsidized TOD appearing in Tampa:

We are running this story again today since when we ran it on April 20, we omitted the link to the photos:

Dr. Martin Stone, Director of Planning for the Tampa Expressway in Florida, was kind enough to send us a series of photos11选5机选摇一摇 showing the developments that have occurred and continue to occur at the urban end of the Expressway. One is a streetscape showing the Grand Central (residential, parking, multiple floors of office and commercial on first floor) development, the Slade (residential & commercial on first floor) development and the Towers of Channelside (residential, parking and commercial on first floor at the far end of photo). Sounds like a transit-oriented development (TOD) to us. Unfortunately, it does not really qualify as a TOD because it is not subsidized. What a shame; it might have garnered a HOT TOD award.

 

April 22, 2008.

TV Coverage of the Press Conference:

              

 

REMINDER: Tomorrow is the Council Meeting on Bill 80

The full details are shown below as part of our April 19 post. In the morning the Executive Matters Committee meets on matters such as TODs, the Transit Authority and this gem below. In the afternoon the full council meets to discuss Bill 80.

BILL 33 (2008) – CONSULTANT CONTRACTS. Prohibiting consultants contracted by the City from conducting lobbying activities. This bill should also prohibit "hard sell" indulged in by many consultants. Since the professional organizations, such as the American Association of Civil Engineers (ASCE), does not enforce its Association's Code of Ethics, maybe the City Council should. For example, the ASCE Code says, " Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: Being honest and impartial and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. Engineers shall not participate in the dissemination of untrue, unfair or exaggerated statements regarding engineering. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony."

Holding PB and its subcontractors to this Code could be quite amusing sport for some of our Councilmembers.

 

11选5机选摇一摇USN&WR: Mass transit systems drain city coffers

11选5机选摇一摇Today’s spells out the problems that the nation’s cities are having funding their existing mass transit systems. For example, they tell us that,

"Because mass transit systems are so expensive to operate, they rely heavily on subsidies from federal, state, and local coffers. But the flow of money has not kept pace with the ridership growth. And when demand is coupled with capital costs or deferred maintenance and bonds coming due, many transit systems now find themselves in a financial bind that promises to only get worse.”

“The transit agency in Boston, for instance, is now some $5 billion in the red. The New York Transit Authority will face an estimated $700 million deficit this year, which is projected to jump to a $1.1 billion shortfall in 2009 and a $2.07 billion gap by 2011. "The state wasn't kicking in money for capital needs, so we were taking out bonds," says William Henderson, executive director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. "Now, not only are you having to pay for the 40 percent of cost of operations that you're not covering through the fare box, you're also paying for more and more debt service." [Note: Honolulu taxpayers pick up a much larger 73 percent of the cost of operations.]

 

Channel 2 poll final was 86 to 14 favoring a vote on rail

Great S-B photos of rally:

Our thanks to Craig Kojima at the Star-Bulletin who took these wonderful photos of yesterday's press conference and rally at City Hall.

 

 

 

April 21, 2008.

Great success at the rally; nearly 200 supporters there:

Hawaii Reporter's Malia Zimmerman reported nearly 200 supporters at the Press Conference. All the media were in attendance and was a greater turnout than could have been expected. In the photo below Honolulu physician Dr. Michael Uechi, co-Chair of the organization spells out for the media what the organization hopes to achieve. Watch for the news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need you TODAY at 12:15 PM in front of City Hall

TODAY lunchtime, Monday, April 21 at 12:30 PM, the STOP RAIL NOW organization, headed by Dennis Callan and Dr. Michael Uechi will hold a brief press conference in front of City Hall to tell the media and the voters about this new petition drive to rid ourselves of rail transit. This initiative aims to put on the ballot and let the public vote on whether the following should be a city ordinance:

 

“Honolulu mass transit shall not include trains or rail transit.”

 

hymskdr.cn11选5机选摇一摇 completely endorse this effort as it cuts to the quick in the rail debate. We urge all organizations and individuals who wish to stop rail transit to attend the press conference and show their support.

It is imperative that we make a strong first impression on the public and the media since we have 40,000 signatures to collect and that is a big undertaking. The greater the impression, the more media coverage we will get and the more volunteers that will come forward.

SHOW UP by 12:15 PM and we will have T-shirts, signs and banners. We need you there to make a big impression with the public and with your help we can do that.

11选5机选摇一摇PLEASE forward this to your entire email mailing list. For other details go to and here to

Also see the story in today's Honolulu Advertiser about this effort,

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2008.

Senator Sam Slom to debate Mayor Mufi over rail?

11选5机选摇一摇The Advertiser's that is worth reading. It tells of Wayne Yoshioka offering Sam Slom a debate with the Mayor, mano a mano, over rail. Apparently, Bill Brennan, the Mayor's spinmeister allowed that Yoshioka had misspoken and that a representative of the Mayor would debate Sam. What a shame; that would have been quite interesting.

 

The usual suspects rally for steal-on-steal:

Here at City Hall last Wednesday before the April 16 Council Meeting is a collection of the usual suspects making the case for rail. They are believed to be city employees and, in addition, they are being addressed by former Councilmember John De Soto ($150,000), at left in yellow shirt is flack Doug Carlson ($90,000), at left in blue shirt is Pat Lee ($217,000), with hand over a "rail now" sign is Wayne Yoshioka, head of the City Transportation Dept. (recently from Parsons Brinckerhoff), to his left is Roger Morton, head of TheBus company, way in the back is Simon Zweighaft, Managing Partner, of InfraConsult LLC ($11,500,000) a company of recent retirees from Parsons Brinckerhoff ($96,200,000). Out of sight to the left is his other Managing Partner, Mike Schneider, and former U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta ($10,000 a month).

One should not be surprised that steal-on-steal is their favored option.

In 2006, while still Secretary of Transportation, Mineta issued a 12-page new policy, “National Strategy to Reduce Congestion on America’s Transportation Network” in a speech to the National Retail Federation in Washington, DC. He said that traffic congestion was a matter of making the wrong choices and laid out a program to relieve it. He lauded congestion pricing, express buses on uncongested expressways and using private capital through public private partnerships to pay for them. In this national strategy, rail was not mentioned once. You can read it for yourself at the above link.

 

A spontaneous unsubsidized TOD is appearing in Tampa:

Dr. Martin Stone, Director of Planning for the Tampa Expressway in Florida, was kind enough to send us a series of photos showing the developments that have occurred and continue to occur at the urban end of the Expressway. One is a streetscape showing the Grand Central (residential, parking, multiple floors of office and commercial on first floor) development, the Slade (residential & commercial on first floor) development and the Towers of Channelside (residential, parking and commercial on first floor at the far end of photo). Sounds like a transit-oriented development (TOD) to us. Unfortunately, it does not really qualify as a TOD because it is not subsidized. What a shame; it might have garnered a TOD award.

 

April 19, 2008.

Error: Correction to an error we made on April 15:

We somehow missed in our story that the East Kapolei to Waipahu "Shoppers' Special" segment of the rail line was in for an opening in 2011. Our apologies; we must have missed it because it is just too absurd of an idea in the first place. For true believers however, the City will begin construction in 2009.

 

Executive Matters Committee meets Wednesday at 9:00 AM on TODS

This Wednesday, April 23 at 9:00 AM the Council Executive Matters Committee will consider three bills relating to Transit Oriented Developments (TODS), (aka Transit Oriented Developers Subsidies), and one resolution concerning establishing a Transit Authority as follows.

RESOLUTION 07-90 - CHARTER AMENDMENT RELATING TO THE CREATION OF A PUBLIC TRANSIT AUTHORITY. The Administration has yet to make its case on the need for a Public Transit Authority. Elsewhere in the U.S. virtually all other Transit Authorities are established to deal with jurisdictional issues between neighboring counties. Until such time as we are given a reasonable explanation for the necessity for such an authority we should assume something untoward is afoot and therefore oppose it.

BILL 10 (2008), CD1– RELATING TO TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT. Establishing transit-oriented development land use regulations along the alignment and rapid transit stations. We must seek language that would prohibit subsidies for the development of TODS. Subsidies are necessary for them because typically residents do not value the apartments and shops sufficiently that developers can cover their costs. They are therefore subsidized and other Honolulu residents have to cover them in property tax increases.

BILL 11 (2008) – LAND USE ORDINANCE RELATING TO TRANSIT-ORIENTED MULTI-FAMILY DWELLINGS. See above.

BILL 12 (2008) – RELATING TO PARKING. Encouraging the use of transit centers by reducing the off-street parking requirements. What happens elsewhere is that the use of automobiles is not reduced anywhere near enough to warrant these reductions. The net result to be seen in Portland and elsewhere is that people just park anywhere they can find, often illegally, and the problem is so overwhelming that the police do not issue tickets to them.

BILL 13 (2008) – RELATING TO PERMITTING HOTELS NEAR TRANSIT CENTERS. As above.

BILL 33 (2008) – CONSULTANT CONTRACTS. Prohibiting consultants contracted by the City from conducting lobbying activities. This bill should also prohibit "hard sell" indulged in by many consultants. Since the professional organizations, such as the American Association of Civil Engineers (ASCE), does not enforce its Association's Code of Ethics, maybe the City Council should. For example, the ASCE Code says, " Engineers uphold and advance the integrity, honor and dignity of the engineering profession by: Being honest and impartial and serving with fidelity the public, their employers and clients; Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner. Engineers shall not participate in the dissemination of untrue, unfair or exaggerated statements regarding engineering. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony."

11选5机选摇一摇Holding PB and its subcontractors to this Code could be quite amusing sport for some of our Councilmembers.

 

Bill 80 to be revisited on Wednesday at 2:00 PM

The Council will hear revisit Bill 80 at a or whenever the 1:00 PM Budget Committee meeting ends, whichever is later. Note that the various bills have different numbers from those we listed for the last hearing even though the same options are still in play:

steel wheel on steel rail, magnetic levitation or rubber tire on concrete.

11选5机选摇一摇 Rubber tire on concrete only.

Bill 80 (2006), Proposed CD1, FD3 (Version 2) Both rubber tire on concrete and magnetic levitation.

Steel wheel on steel rail only.

 

Council punts technology bill to next week:

The technology bill brouhaha and the rest of this "technology" discussion is not about technology; it is about Councilmembers' increasing unhappiness with the whole process.

On one side of the argument are those who are adamantly for conventional rail no matter what it costs. Some are doing the developers' bidding, some are promised rewards from the Mayor and some have the Word Directly From God that this is a faith-based initiative.

On the other hand, Council dissidents are rightfully worried about their restless constituents who are growing more and more disgruntled with the sleaziness of the process, the impact of the likely final costs of rail, future tax hikes, the prospects of noise and urban blight and on top of all that — no relief from traffic congestion?

It is being argued that if rail transit is such a good idea why does it have to be sold so hard? $500,000 to Elisa Yadao for public relations? $10,000 a month for Norman Mineta to lobby the Council? $150,000 for former councilmember John De Soto to spread his charm around? Yes, we want public outreach such as citizens being able to talk to city engineers. But millions of dollars of "hard sell"?

There are concerns about the cost of countless hordes of Parsons Brinckerhoff people all over the place all charging out at $175 an hour? And $11,000,000 to InfraConsult, a new company of former Parsons Brinckerhoff employees, to "manage the process"? And millions of dollars to all those folks who paid hefty fines for their illegal contributions to Mayor Harris' campaign?

As they say, if you are not having a panic attack, maybe you don't know what is going on.

 

April 15, 2008.

City's Rail schedule slips:

According to the new schedule shown at the Mayor's "outreach" meeting last night, the construction phase has slipped from beginning in mid-2009, according to the Alternatives Analysis, to this new one of late 2011.

It is interesting to note that the schedule calls for beginning construction in late 2011 and opening the first phase in late 2012. This "first phase" must mean the opening of the East Kapolei station in an empty field, given that it is about all that will get done in a year.

The Mayor commented on the use of cars that "we take our cars everywhere" and, therefore, "we have to break that culture." However, this is all just wishful thinking. All over the world, people are leaving mass transportation and opting for individual transportation (cars, motorcycles) as soon as they can afford them. They understand that time is money; something that politicians and planners do not seem to grasp.

 

April 14, 2008.

Cato Institute's O'Toole releases new study on gas emissions:

In, Randal O’Toole writes:

11选5机选摇一摇"Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets.

"While most rail transit uses less energy than buses, rail transit does not operate in a vacuum: transit agencies supplement it with extensive feeder bus operations. Those feeder buses tend to have low ridership, so they have high energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile. The result is that, when new rail transit lines open, the transit systems as a whole can end up consuming more energy, per passenger mile, than they did before.

"Even where rail transit operations save a little energy, the construction of rail transit lines consumes huge amounts of energy and emits large volumes of greenhouse gases. In most cases, many decades of energy savings would be needed to repay the energy cost of construction.

"Rail transit attempts to improve the environment by changing people's behavior so that they drive less. Such behavioral efforts have been far less successful than technical solutions to toxic air pollution and other environmental problems associated with automobiles."

It is well worth the time to read this study as it debunks the idea that rail transit in Honolulu will save energy and reduce gas emissions.

 

April 11, 2008.

Transit "outreach" meeting at Kalani High School this Monday:

The Mayor is having an outreach meeting (aka "hard sell") at Kalani High School this Monday evening. For you folks in the country, Kalani HS is on Kalanianiaole Highway about a half-mile Koko Head of Kahala Mall. Usually the PB people put on a show for about 45 minutes to an hour and then the Mayor holds forth on the wonders of steal-on-steal rail transit. He blasts HOT lanes in the process. It will be useful for people to show up for this event.

 

Wachs: "Ethics and Advocacy in Forecasting for Public Policy":

Dr. Martin Wachs, whose "When Planners Lie with Numbers" was featured yesterday, also wrote in a similar vein for the Business and Professional Ethics Journal on, Ethics and Advocacy in Forecasting for Public Policy. To again try to entice you into reading the whole article, here are some excerpts:

"The complex mathematical models and large data bases characteristic of modern forecasts thus obfuscate the fact that they are all elaborations of relatively simple assumptions about the future, and they hide from the public the fact that the assumptions included in the forecast can be selected to help advocate certain courses of action for political purposes." pp. 149-50

"A forecaster might be in the employ of an engineering firm which received a small contract to estimate the need for a bridge. If the bridge is shown to be justified, additional consulting fees for design and engineering might produce much more income than that derived from preparing the forecast itself. If the bridge is shown to be unnecessary, no further contracts may be awarded. In such settings, it is obvious that forecasters are under pressure to adjust their predictions for self serving purposes." p. 153

"It is indeed difficult to withstand pressures to produce self serving forecasts which are cloaked in the guise of technical objectivity." p. 153.

 

Full Council to hear Bill 80 to select technology:

This coming Wednesday, for the day. It looks like being another marathon session given the length of the Agenda and that Bill 80 is positioned at the end of the morning session. It would appear likely, though not certain that Bill 80 will spill over to the afternoon session. The discussion will be about Bill 80 selecting the technology of the locally preferred alternative.

While, at the moment, there appear to be four versions of the bill, there may be more offered during the discussions. In any case, most probably they will hear testimony for all four versions at the same time. In other words, you will be limited to 15 seconds testimony for each bill or one minute in the aggregate. Following are the four versions of the bill:

steel wheel on steel rail only.

Rubber tire on concrete only.

11选5机选摇一摇 Magnetic Levitation only.

Bill 80 (2006), Proposed CD2, FD3 (Version 3) Both rubber tire on concrete and magnetic levitation.

 

April 10, 2008.

Wachs: "When Planners Lie with Numbers":

Dr. Martin Wachs, Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and presently head of Rand Corporation's transportation practice, wrote, When Planners Lie with Numbers for the American Planning Association Journal in 1989. The article is only three pages and the following excerpts will hopefully whet your appetite for it:

"The most effective planner is sometimes the one who can cloak advocacy in the guise of scientific or technical rationality. Rather than stating that we favor a particular highway project or renewal program for ideological reasons or because our clients stand to gain more from that project than from alternatives, we adjust data and assumptions until we can say that the data clearly show that the preferred option is best."

"Our profession does little to discipline planners who fudge data or deliberately misrepresent the truth through technical manipulation of data or models. Such abuses arise because we live at a time when it is necessary to support one's position with facts and figures in order to be convincing. A professional judgment unsubstantiated by facts or modeling results is not as valid as one that is. Yet, in some situations the facts are not readily at hand, and the cost and time required for gathering them are prohibitive." (original emphasis)

 

April 8, 2008.

$251 million for rail in Council Budget bill:

This Thursday, April 10, at 9:00 AM the Budget Committee will hear the in the Second Floor Committee Room of City Hall. Most importantly, in the there is an amount of $251 million for the Honolulu High Capacity Transit Project to "Plan, design, construct and acquire equipment for the Locally Preferred Alternative." There's no detail and no one seems to know what it is for. Of course, we shall ask; maybe by Thursday someone in the Administration may know.

 

Dale Evans: Rail rider safety not addressed in rail plans:

Rarely addressed is the issue of crime on rail transit especially in operator-less vehicles. For example, the British Columbia government survey of passenger attitudes found that SkyTrain riders were fare more worried about their personal safety than were Vancouver's bus riders.

Dale Evans, Chair of the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance and CEO of Charley's Taxi, has written an excellent op/ed on transit crime complete with footnoted sources. Read "Rider and Protection are not Addressed in Rail Plans.

 

National leader blasts City goon's personal attack:

Greg Cohen, head of the American Highway Users Alliance (AHUA) blasts the Hawaii Reporter op/ed entitled "Dr. Prevedouros - Odd Man Out by Keith Rollman, an appointee of Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who had penned an insulting and personal attack against Dr. Panos Prevedouros, a respected University of Hawaii transportation engineering professor who volunteers as the president of the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance. Cohen does not pull any punches.

 

April 7, 2008.

Okino keeps talking about SkyTrain's non-existent "profit":

Let us spell it out: The financial statements of Translink, the Vancouver entity that administers all forms of public transportation in the Greater Vancouver area, does not show any breakout of revenues for the various modes of transit. This is because they use fare cards that are good for all modes of transit. They do break out the costs for SkyTrain, but not the revenues because that cannot be done for obvious reasons. Without revenues one cannot determine profit or loss.

11选5机选摇一摇Had SkyTrain made a profit you can be sure that their officials would be shouting that from the rooftops. Instead, not a murmur, just a flaky journalist in some kind of weekly, I believe, is the only person claiming a profit — other than Okino.

Overall Translink loses $300 million annually and you can be sure that SkyTrain has a good share of it. Here's the link to Translink's Annual Report and readers can check for themselves. Researchers should note that Translink does not include amortization and interest in its breakout of operating costs for SkyTrain, which are a considerable part of the $113 million annual amortization and interest costs for the system. Nor do they account for the $13 million annually for transit police which is also mostly incurred for SkyTrain.

 

April 4, 2008.

Honolulu Magazine pans rail:

It is always a pleasure to read Kam Napier in Honolulu Magazine; he is always so right on it. and Gary Okino talking nonsense about TODs reducing the need for cars and how Okino and his like are annoyed because, "Your car is a competitor to its train. Interestingly, the city also knows you aren’t about to give it up. By the city’s estimate, barely 8 percent of all trips made in the city in 2030 will be by rail. This projection assumed a fully built transit system, but “minimal improvements to the H-1 freeway.” Why minimal?” Why “reduced parking requirements?” In 2008, the people we elected to represent our interests seem bent on making sure that the other 92 percent of our trips—to work, to buy groceries, to drop off the kids at school—will be as miserable as they can possibly make them. Conveniently, none of them will be in office in 2030 to hear us complain."

Read the whole editorial, it is well done.

April 3, 2008.

Advertisement today by E. Alvey Wright opposing rail:

In an advertisement in today's Advertiser, apparently paid by himself, retired Rear Admiral and former Hawaii Department of Transportation Director E. Alvey Wright wrote the following open letter in large bold type taking up a full half-page:

"Who is managing the economy of Hawaii? The mainstay of our economy is the Visitor Industry.

"A transit project with a budget of $4,799,000,000 is starting. The fixed guideway will do essentially nothing for the Honolulu International Airport, nothing for Waikiki, nothing for visitors, nothing for the environment, and nothing for the future of Hawaii.

"Honolulu will be spending the people’s excise tax money, plus a share of internal revenue paid by all people of the USA, including Hawaii. In my opinion, the City should be spending that kind of money on maintaining and improving the City and County of Honolulu, and on turning Oahu green. The State of Hawaii should be maintaining and rebuilding the University of Hawaii, along with making it the Stanford of the Pacific.

"Please recognize, in this regular session, before it is too late, that our visitor economy cannot afford a fixed guideway transit system." Very respectfully, (signature) E. Alvey Wright

 

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