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Friday, October 13, 2000



City & County of Honolulu

Speakers air pros, cons
of bus rapid-transit plan


By Harold Morse
Star-Bulletin

Bus rapid-transit alternative proponents say it provides the quality of rail transit with the flexibility of bus service.

But a light-rail system still has its advocates.

The bulk of twenty-three speakers at a city public hearing last night in the Hawaii Suite at the Blaisdell Center like the bus rapid-transit alternative. The meeting was on a major investment study/draft environmental impact statement for the long-range transportation project.

The bus rapid-transit proposal would link Kapolei to Kalihi using new access ramps connecting expanded zipper and express lanes on the H-1 freeway. In town it would use electric vehicles along exclusive or semi-exclusive lanes to move people from Kalihi to downtown, with separate branches eventually splitting off en route to Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue and to the University of Hawaii on Kapiolani.

Planners say the bus rapid-transit option is 35 percent cheaper than light rail.

But Richard Port, former state Democratic chairman, opposed the bus rapid-transit alternative.

"The current use of buses within urban Honolulu is satisfactory and very flexible," Port said.

Two dedicated bus rapid-transit lanes on Kapiolani would make it virtually impossible to get automobiles up and down that corridor, he said.

Cindy McMillan, a consultant under contract with the city, said the bus rapid-transit system would run electric buses every two to eight minutes.

They could be powered from touchable embedded power plates or powered by hybrid diesel-electric drive systems. The electric buses would be low-floored for easy access, and driver-operated with multi-door loading.

Projections indicate bus rapid transit would have the highest level of usage by the year 2025 of the three alternatives and still have room for growth.

Tom Dinell, UH professor emeritus of urban and regional planning, said: "Generally speaking, we support the BRT alternative."

But what the studies and environmental report don't say concerned him: using Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki as an exclusive road for commercial vehicles including tour buses and trolleys.

"Is this going to work?" he asked.

The proposed bus rapid-transit system is going to have an impact on private transportation, he said. This may reduce city and state tax revenues, he added.

Dinell also questioned equity -- the breakdown of payment between riders, including out-of-state visitors, and taxpayers -- to run the system.



City & County of Honolulu



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