Letters To The Editor

Don Chapman
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September 03, 2008 - MidWeek
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Better than rail

In recent columns, Jade Moon has indicated that she supports a “rail” system. She either is careful in wording or has “bought in” to the city’s references to rail as only “steel wheel on steel rail” systems.

While discussing the need for rail, she mentioned that it will be expensive and that it needs to reach the airport and the University of Hawaii-Manoa campus.

For those of us who also favor rail but support a different form of fixed-rail, it is very hard to get our voices heard. The Federal Transit Administration acknowledges several forms of rail, including automated guideway transit (AGT). The HSST elevated magnetic levitation (mag-lev), an AGT system that has been in revenue service in Nagoya, Japan, since early 2005, is faster, much quieter and (because of virtually frictionless running) would be cheaper to operate than a steel wheels system. The mag-lev’s narrower guideway, 21 feet across (and open between the beams), compared to the solid steel wheel bridge of 30-31 feet, will not only be better-looking but also would cost $460 million - $480 million less to construct for the planned 20-mile minimum operable segment (MOS).

Those savings, if applied with the same amount of labor as that needed for steel wheels, could deliver extensions to the airport as well as UH-Manoa within the MOS time frame. A single beam, over-and-back extension also could service Waikiki. If the city allows the HSST mag-lev to compete, and it wins in a fair and open competition, students and other commuters - and the taxpayers - will be the winners.

By the way, for the record, I do not work for the HSST supplier. I just want to see them get a chance to compete, but I think that the vast majority of your readers are not even aware that there is such a system and that it is not a “Disneyland ride,” as characterized by former Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, now a PR flack for the city.

Frank Genadio

Just build it

Jade Moon’s column “Standing By Support For Rail” has many interesting points but misses the mark. Mr. Ben Ramelb, whom she mentioned, does not work for Stop Rail Now or any other organization, he is an individual with his own opinion, like it or not.

The choice for a $5 billion rail system or some other alternatives comes down to some really rather simple points. Given the 850,000 residents in the city and county of Honolulu we should all consider ourselves members of a rather extended family. Considering the fact that a family must consider what is important for the future and how we can spend our limited income, should our family buy a new car (rail) or should we: put our kids through college at a new UH West Oahu campus, pay our mortgage, fix our sewers, fix our constantly breaking water pipes, build a new stadium to attract the NFL and major league baseball teams, fix the crumbling UH-Manoa campus, repave our roads that are full of filled potholes, air condition our schools, build a new prison to bring our Hawaii prisoners back, build new garbage handling plants to stop the need for the Waimanalo landfill? If all families had incomes that could do everything, then we would buy that new car (Rail) and also do all the other priorities that have to be done.

As the head of my family, I know what I choose.

Pam Smith Ewa

The nasty L-word

There’s that nasty, hateful word again. Michele Malkin uses it in her first sentence in this week’s MidWeek diatribe. It is sprinkled with a sneer throughout the commentary of pundits like Limbaugh and O’Reilly. I am talking about the L-word, of course. It appears that “liberals” are to some folks what the Jews were to the Nazis - a scapegoat to blame everything bad on.

There’s crime in the streets? Blame the liberals. The price of gas has gone up? Blame the liberals. The economy stinks? Blame the liberals. The list goes on, endlessly. It’s a form of deception, designed to encourage us not to think, but to react to labels.

Well, I don’t buy it. Give me the arguments, but lose the labels. There are good and bad ideas on all sides. Let’s argue the merits of each. Don’t insult my or anyone else’s intelligence by throwing in the “L” word.

J.B. Young

Send your letters to MidWeek Letters, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 500, Honolulu, HI. 96813; by fax to 585-6324, or by email to dchapman@midweek.com. Please include your name, address and daytime and evening phone numbers. We print only the letters that include this information, but only your name and area of residence will appear in print. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.
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