Tuesday, September 30, 2008

21 Reasons to Reject Rail and Its Proponents

21 Reasons to Reject Rail and Those Proposing it.
Code: R = Rail as CCH has proposed; MH=Mayor Hanneman; PB = Parsons Brinkerhoff, city R contractor-advisor; EIS –Environmental Impact Statement; CCH=City and County of Honolulu.

1. CCH's own PB studies show it won't change road congestion, it won’t solve our traffic problem. Per PB, when complete , R will take take 1.3% of cars off the road. Per MH at the KGMB forum, 11% off -- for $6+ billion or more!!
2. Fed Funds are in no way assured. The EIS must compare alternative possibilities.
3. Why has MH delayed presentation of the EIS for some 6 months, possibly until after the election? Suspicious?
4. R will be ugly (80 feet and higher in a neighborhood you use), noisy (next to your place?) and running 20 hours a day – empty most of the time. Noisy visual blight.
5. MH refuses even to try traffic options proven elsewhere --road congestion pricing (rush hour), which succeeds in cities all over the world. In the U.S. Minneapolis, Seattle, Miami, and San Francisco are all introducing congestion pricing using millions in federal funds. Why not in Honolulu, MH?
Why no serious look first at more elevated triple HOT lanes, one way into town in the AM. The opposite in the PM. It works beautifully in Orlando. Add far more buses, and multiple occupant vehicle incentives. Why ignore other options? What's the rush?
6. A study of 258 R and bridge projects over 70 years showed that 90% of them have cost overruns(Miller-mcCune.com, September issue, Derailing the Boondoggle), drastically over budget costs. U.S. DOT says rail costs average 40% more than budget.
7. CCH budgets $70 million to buy all the land needed for R. They must be kidding.
8. Construction Inflation. An expert study of the 2006 PB planning for Honolulu R shows there’s no way R costs $3.7 billion. More, construction inflation rose 8% in 2006, and over 4% this year, not including steel and oil costs rising. That balloons $3.7 billion to $4.2 billion before construction even starts! Already half billion dollars beyond what MH advertises. Add 5% a year for design changes and construction inflation, and you get $5.5 billion not counting delays, rises in materials costs and wages, and greater real estate costs. And that doesn’t count R legs to Waikiki and UH.
PB ran the Big Dig in Boston, which started at $3.7 billion (sound familiar?) and ended at $14.6 billion? Are we next?
9. Why haven't we seen any operations costs? CCH Transport Director says these costs must come from Property Taxes. How Much?. Why the mystery about operations costs? Where’s the transparency with taxpayer dollars? It's your $.
10. Why repeated contracts to the same few bidders who kick into MH's campaign?
11.CCH has not added buses since the mid 1990's, trying to force us into R. Why not more buses now running on hydrogen? A much lower carbon footprint, and far more flexibility in routes to serve more people.
12. MH hasn't added left turn lanes and more bus pull-offs to
speed traffic. Why? Why not 4 day work weeks to cut traffic?
13. By the time the swollen R. tab arrives, we'll have ruined the
CCH bond rating for many of our other needs, like sewers and more buses.
14. Judge Ezra warns us that we need sewers first to avert public health disasters with 6 major lines that have, per a CCH study, "Outlived their useful life." CCH fought to delay fixing them and $6 million of your tax dollars later, lost in federal court. Sewers and sewage treatment will run in the billions. The Waikiki sewer break at $48 million showed us what to expect from MH with sewer maintenance. Will MH end up having R cost us needed sewers?
15. The National financial crisis = fewer visitors = a drop in
business = less in CCH tax receipts -- just when CCH incurs
huge, open-ended R. costs for a no-solution. Does that pass the common sense test?
16. MH says he loves Honolulu, but suggests he won't stick it out past 2010 at CCH, as he sees greener pastures. But he will stick us with the R. tab when he moves on. If R is that important, and MH loves Honolulu, why won't he promise to stick around?
17. Engineering studies indicate that R will have a huge carbon footprint, bigger than all the cars-buses-trucks combined. State law now requires that we cut emissions to limit global warming. As engineers have pointed out, R fails on the global warming requirement.
18. Your Electricity bill is up 56% in the past 12 months. Imagine R electricity costs in 2018 for 20+ stations 24 hours a day, lights, escalators, elevators, plus empty cars running 20 hours a day? As Mayoral Candidate Ann Kobayashi has pointed out, we cannot afford this huge boondoggle. The MH plan will end up as your expensive tab.
19. At 25 mph with 20 plus stops, R is not rapid transit.
20. Rising R costs and shrinking CCH tax revenues may very well threaten CCH bankruptcy, driving out other much needed city services that we rely on, forcing us to raise property taxes significantly in an uncertain or down economy. It may even require raising the excise tax again. Does a noisy, ugly R that does not solve the traffic problem warrant higher property taxes?
21. R won’t serve East Honolulu, Windward Oahu, the Leeward Coast, or the North Shore, and it won’t unclog the routes to and from rail stations in Ewa, Kapolei, and Waipahu that lack parking.
R is about you, your money, your city, and your family’s need to get where all of you need to go. R will not cut traffic in any significant way, but it will cost us our better transit options and threaten the entire city financial system. And face it, we do have better, more flexible rapid transit options and better leadership available -- Kobayashi with Panos Prevedouros providing rail guidance.
Please add it all up, weigh the pros against the cons, and vote what you think is best for all of us.
Well, what about it?
Rail versus HOT lanes in Honolulu?
The Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative?
Global warming?
Living Sustainably?
Our common future?

What do you think about any of these and more? We have a future to consider,
and we need to do what we can to shape it so those who follow can look at us
and say, "At least they were thinking about it."

I invite you to join me here on PNTV in commenting on the issues we must resolve.
I'll comment, and hope you will respond. Maybe together we can think it through and answer
Well, what about it?
Doc Berry