A Better, Cheaper Plan Than Rail

Jerry Coffee
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Wednesday - August 27, 2008
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Our pro-rail mayor and his lieutenants who keep saying the “Stop Rail Now” folks have nothing better to offer must have their hands pressed over their ears yelling “la la la la la la ...”

Their minds are made up and to hear a better way would cause problems.

So at the risk of causing problems, here it is everyone, the reasons to “stop rail now” - the rapid transit alternative that truly is a “better way”!


1) Fixed Guideway: Build elevated, dedicated, reversible, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes from Kapolei to University of Hawaii via Waipahu, Pearl City, Pearl Harbor/Stadium, Airport, Iwilei, downtown Honolulu, Ala Moana Center, Waikiki, and U.H. with on/off ramps at each location.

2) Express Buses: Use high-speed (65 mph), quiet, articulated, hybrid or natural gas, express buses nonstop from points of origin to destinations.

Get on the “Waikiki” bus at Kapolei and get off in Waikiki 25 minutes later. Get on the “Pearl Harbor/Stadium” bus at Mililani and be there in 15 minutes.

Transit time would be half that of the train. There would be a separate bus for each destination with departure frequency determined by demand. During off-peak hours, the buses can be used on regular city streets.

3) Flexibility: Depending upon volume of buses at any given time, corporate or government express vans would have second priority and might pay a variable toll. Private vehicles would have third priority paying a variable toll, the higher the demand the higher the toll.

Of course, motorists could always use the existing freeways/roadways with less traffic now because of commuters using the efficient express buses. This preserves choices for all of us with varying transportation needs throughout the week.

4) Efficiency: Buses could maintain high speed, but could easily exit and enter elevated roadway to bypass accidents or stalls. Trains must stop at every station thereby reaching a maximum average speed of 26 mph (rapid transit?), and will have no way to deal with inevitable obstructions and power outages.

5) Green: Buses use energy discretely as required by passenger demand but trains run all the time regardless of demand It’s like leaving the lights on in an empty house.

6) Technology: Buses can be upgraded as new technology and fuels become available, as they surely will within a few years. Safety enhancing magnetic roadway auto-steering strips and radar controlled vehicle separation are just around the corner.


The train is 20th century technology and will be obsolete at the ribbon cutting.

7) Infrastructure: Buses would not require 26 separate stations, each of which is a major construction project, and would incur the ongoing cost of operations, maintenance, security and significant energy use.

8) Usability: Construction for the train system must start in West Oahu because of space requirements for maintenance and testing tracks, and be built eastward. The earlier completed segments would be of minimal use for several years. An elevated busway could begin in the center of the system (perhaps Iwilei) and be built outward in both directions, thereby providing useful segments years earlier.

9) Cost: A comprehensive rapid transit system using elevated HOT lanes and modern express buses, which would include Mililani, Airport, Waikiki, UH, and a mirror-image bikeway to boot would cost a fraction of the proposed truncated $5 billion train system, which in all likelihood - because of cost overruns and further funding shortfalls (read taxes) - would remain truncated forever.

10) Shibai: By the city’s own admission, the proposed rail system wont even begin to solve our traffic gridlock; it’s all about development that benefits Mufi’s financiers - developers and construction unions. The outrageous cos will indebt our children and grandchildren, and will deprive us of the true traffic solution at an affordable price.

Dear readers, this is a “kitchen table” decision. Would you buy a new family car that doesn’t suit your needs, has no resale value because you can never sell it and the price would break the family budget several times over?

And, on top of that, the dealer is adding a surcharge specifically to pay for the advertising to convince you to buy this inferior product!

Sound like a good deal to you?

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