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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Rail Debate: Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda on Island Insights
By Selected News Articles @ 4:31 PM :: 5471 Views :: Maui County, Education K-12, Energy, Environment

From HonoluluTraffic.com October 18, 2011

More woulda, coulda, shoulda rebutted on Island Insights:

This relates to Governor Cayetano and Cliff Slater debating Gary Okino and Drew Astolfi in a panel discussion moderated by Dan Boylan last week. The show is now available on Hawai‘i Public Television at: http://www.pbshawaii.org/indexee.php/site/vidpopdream/261/

On shows like this you never get to say all you wanted to, even to rebut some absurdity from an opponent. Here are some thoughts about what, given the choice, they might have given more attention to:

Gary Okino’s constant repetition of FTA’s blessing of the City’s rail project as the Last Word was not only irritating but wrong. The FTA has one of the worst records of any federal agency when it comes to their approvals of transit agencies' forecasts.

Okino says that since 1998 every transit project forecast has been met. Here’s the link to the FTA’s own 2007 assessment: http://www.honolulutraffic.com/FTA_ridership_forecast.pdf , which “presents the predicted and actual impacts of 23 New Starts projects opened for full service between 2002 and 2007.” You can see from the table on page 20 of 158 that their “approved” forecasts compared to actual results were not even close.

The academics, such as those who wrote, Delusion and Deception in Large Infrastructure Projects, have studied the problem of consistent error-prone forecasts for transportation projects and conclude, “Adopting an outside view of the problem has been shown to mitigate delusion. It is applied by ignoring the specific details of the project at hand and uses a broad reference class of similar projects to forecast outcomes for the current project.”

In other words you look at what is happening in reality in other jurisdictions and compare the city’s forecasts to the actual results of others. For just one example, the City is forecasting an increase in the number of people commuting by public transportation from today’s 6.0 percent to 7.4 percent 20 years in the future with rail. That doesn’t sound like much, but 6 to 7.4 is a 23 percent increase in market share for transit, which no other metro area has achieved over a like period of time. Transit is losing market share all over the Mainland and here. For example, TheBus users are not increasing while O’ahu’s population is.

We have only begun on this woulda, coulda, shoulda, said comment and it is already at 380 words so we will stop here for today and continue on tomorrow.

 

date October 16, 2011.

More woulda, coulda, shoulda said on Island Insights:

Last Thursday on the Island Insights show (more below), Gary Okino kept his mantra going continuously that, "The FTA approves everything the city has done about rail." That's true, but irrelevant. One must not forget that politics is always involved in such projects. The FTA staff, their benefits and pensions, need to be funded; funding is approved by the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee Senator Daniel K. Inouye. What he wants he gets. Let's not forget FTA's record. The FTA has one of the worst records of any federal agency when it comes to their approvals of forecasts.

Okino also kept on about the FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff expressing his personal approval of the Honolulu rail project. That is for local consumption. Here's another view from Rogoff when he was in a different town:

In a speech made at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston last Tuesday, May 10, 2010, Peter Rogoff, the head of the Federal Transit Administration made some surprising remarks. Here is an excerpt :

"Supporters of public transit must be willing to share some simple truths that folks don't want to hear. One is this -- Paint is cheap, rails systems are extremely expensive.

"Yes, transit riders often want to go by rail. But it turns out you can entice even diehard rail riders onto a bus, if you call it a "special" bus and just paint it a different color than the rest of the fleet.

Once you've got special buses, it turns out that busways are cheap. Take that paint can and paint a designated bus lane on the street system. Throw in signal preemption, and you can move a lot of people at very little cost compared to rail.

"A little honesty about the differences between bus and rail can have some profound effects.

"Earlier I pointed out that our new estimate for the deferred maintenance backlog for the entire transit universe is roughly $78 billion. But you should know that fully 75 percent of that figure is to replace rail assets.

"Now let's remember that the majority of transit trips in this country are still done by bus. When it comes to delivering actual transit service, Americans take 21 percent more transit trips every year than rail trips. That said, fully three quarters of the funding backlog we face in achieving a state of good repair is associated with underfunded rail assets.

"Communities deciding between bus and rail investments need to stare those numbers in the face. Some communities might be tempted to pay the extra cost for shiny new rails now. But they need to be mindful of the costs they are teeing up for future generations."

 

date October 15, 2011.

About the Corky cartoon shown on Island Insights:

Most folks were not aware of the history of the cartoon than was shown by Cliff Slater at the opening of the Island Insights show so here's the whole story.

In 1991 during the earlier fight over rail, the Waikiki Improvement Association, which is essentially a sort of Chamber of Commerce for Waikiki businesses, staged a debate between COST and the City (The Committee on Sensible Transit (COST) was an earlier incarnation of Honolulutraffic.com before the Internet came of age). Robert Behnke, a former Hawaii prominent businessman and traffic expert, and Cliff Slater represented COST and Sharon Greene, a still prominent transportation finance expert, Joe Magaldi, then City Transportation Director, and Amar Sappal, his deputy, represented the City.

The debate took place before a crowd of about 200 in a Waikiki Hotel and it is generally agreed that COST wiped the floor with City. We know the City agreed with this assessment since the following day Mayor Frank Fasi issued a formal gag order preventing any City employee from ever appearing on a platform with COST members. That was twenty years ago and occasioned a great deal of comment in the press with one daily headlining in very large type, "GAG ORDER!" Corky drew his cartoon the next day after the gag order was put in place. The order even applied to events planned by UH and high school students. The three people represented in the cartoon are from the left Sappal, Magaldi, and we believe the then Corporation Counsel.

To the best of our knowledge that gag order is still in place because two other local TV stations have tried to establish discussion panels with the City and Honolulutraffic,com and our partners with absolutely no luck. Because the City will not show up, and forbids it employees and its contractors to do so, these shows are usually cancelled. We are highly appreciative of Hawaii Public Television's incredible persistence in finding pro-rail people not in the control of the City to show up. We are also appreciative of Gary Okino's and Drew Astolfi's willingness to take the City's place in a discussion forum.

When the City behaves this way and our community accepts it, it has the effect of censoring the opposition. It is plain wrong and should not be tolerated by the voters.

 

date October 14, 2011.

Hawai'i Public TV's Island Insights to be rebroadcast tomorrow:

We now have word that Island Insights will repeat yesterday's show on Channel 10, tomorrow, Saturday, at 1:00 PM. See it, or record it to see later. You might even consider recording it, having a few friends over to watch it and remind them of our dire need for funds for the legal bills.

You can also let your friends know that the program is available 24/7 on the PBS website at http://www.pbshawaii.org/indexee.php/site/vidpopdream/261/

Woulda, coulda, shoulda said on Island Insights last night:

Governor Cayetano and Cliff Slater spent an hour last night debating Gary Okino and Drew Astolfi in a panel discussion moderated by Dan Boylan. The show is now available on Hawai‘i Public Television at: LINK On shows like this you never get to say all you wanted to, even to rebut some absurdity from an opponent. Here are some thoughts about what, given the choice, rail opponents might have given more attention to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They showed before and after photos and renderings of the Downtown and Chinatown rail stations as provided to them by the Honolulu Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Rail proponents both said that the renderings were unrealistically ugly. They did not know, nor did anyone else on stage, that in the intro to the program the producer showed a city-provided rendering of its view of he Downtown station and it is far uglier than the AIA's!

Rail opponents also might have shown the photo below of the 18-month old Sea Tac rail station in Seattle. Between the two of them they make the point that rail will ruin our City.

 

date October 12, 2011.

Events: Honolulu Rotary and Public TV's Island Insights:

Tomorrow night, Thursday, October 13, on Public Television's KHET Channel 10, Governor Cayetano and Cliff Slater will be part of an Island Insights discussion of rail. They will be joined by former Honolulu City Councilmember Gary Okino and Drew Astolfi, head of FACE, (Faith Action for Community Equity), a faith-based Hawai'i organization. KHET tried hard to get City employees, such as Toru Hamayasu or Gary Yoshioka, or their supporting organizations such as Parsons Brinckerhoff and InfraConsult LLC, or their contractors, but unfortunately they all needed to spend more time with their families.

Yesterday at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Governor Cayetano, Judge Walter Heen, Professor Randy Roth and businessman Cliff Slater all appeared before the Honolulu Rotary Club, Hawaii's biggest one, to discuss the rail situation with their members. It was quite clear that the audience was mostly against the rail project. Next Tuesday they will hear from Mayor Carlisle.

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