Seeking True Transit Alternatives

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - December 21, 2005

I know there have been public hearings about “transit alternatives,” but forgive me if I don’t participate in the dog-and-pony show designed to placate the public.

This is a done deal.

A fixed-rail system has been and always will be the project of choice - no matter how many politicians come to you with furrowed brow telling you otherwise.

Why? Because there is no way the supporters of this project are going to do the right thing and end this fiscal madness. Not the governor. Not the mayor. Not the Legislature. Not the City Council. Oh, there may be one or two lone voices in this political wilderness, and they deserve our thanks and support. But sitting politicians overturning the former HB1309? Forget it.

Were there shady deals made in the back rooms of hostess bars?

Were promises made to enrich those politicians who backed this multibillion-dollar public works project?

I honestly don’t know, nor am I making such accusations (you lawyers can stop reading now). One thing, however, is clear: Otherwise learned and logical people are forcing an illogical boondoggle down our collective taxpaying throats.

As this “alternative transit” project continues, you will see non-bid contracts get awarded and cost overruns inflate your tax bill more than the projected $3 billion price tag. By the way, who is going to pay the operating expenses once this train is up and running? You are.

How does something like this happen? Although we have some leaders who have a spine and stand up for the taxpaying citizens, the vast majority believe you are an endless source of revenue to fund their wild-eyed and self-serving agendas, and they know there is nothing you can do about it.

What are you gonna do? Vote them out? Sure you are.

The bottom line is the bottom line. There is simply too much money at stake. The unions want the project because it guarantees jobs for years. Contractors and designers want rail because it means millions in fees. Politicians want this project because they can satisfy the unions, contractors, designers and other interested parties.

But after all have fed at the public trough, what do you get in return?

A transportation system that, ultimately, does not alleviate congestion.

That’s like having a bowling ball with no holes.

I think one common-sense policy should be enacted before we spend this ungodly amount of money. If mass transit is the answer, why don’t we require our existing buses be filled to capacity before we construct another mass-transit system? A caller to my radio program hit the nail on the head. Before we embark on something new, why not maximize what we’ve got?

State Department of Transportation director Rod Haraga reported on the radio show that there are plans that would allow an additional lane to be built on the H-1 freeway. These plans are not new. They have been on file for the past 10 years! Why has this not been advanced as part of an overall congestion alleviation program? What happened to the HOT lane proposal? I hear it’s off the table.

Here is the reality.

Your government has failed to provide one of the most basic services for which it is responsible: an infrastructure that supports an optimal quality of life.

Where is the promised UH West Oahu campus?

Where is the true decentralization of metro Honolulu?

Where is the burgeoning second city of Kapolei?

Where is the resolve to work with the unions to develop a staggered work schedule?

Where is the leadership in standing up to automobile insurers and getting uninsured motorists off the road?

Let’s start with something small. Get those “Not In Service” buses off the road at peak times. Hey, you gotta walk before you can run.

Any and - ideally - all of the aforementioned will alleviate congestion. The cost? A heck of a lot less than $3 billion.

Where is the leader who will declare, “The Emperor Has No Clothes” and expose this charade designed to fleece taxpayers to enrich a chosen few?

I’m looking for the next “Braveheart,” and so are thousands of others.

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