CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Urban Honolulu's population grows by 25 percent during the workday, much of the growth attributable to commuters in their cars headed downtown or to Waikiki each day. Mayor Mufi Hannemann said the numbers underscore the need for a mass transit system on Oahu. Shown here is morning traffic heading into and out of Honolulu.
The mayor says Census Bureau figures underscore the need for a traffic solution
Urban Honolulu's population grows by 25 percent during the workday to 464,962 from 371,657, an indication of the heavy influx of daily commuters to downtown and Waikiki each day.
Those estimates are from the Census Bureau, which released yesterday its first estimates on daytime population changes in Honolulu and other cities.
The area between Red Hill and Hawaii Kai, what the bureau considers metropolitan Honolulu, is about 12th in the nation in daytime population growth among cities with population more than 250,000, just below Denver, which grows by 28 percent each day, and about even with Raleigh, N.C.; Minneapolis; and Sacramento, Calif.
"The numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau confirm what we've known all along. That is that we have a large number of people heading into urban Honolulu every day, and in our case, many of them come in by car," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said in a statement. "That's why my administration continues to promote the development of business and the creation of jobs in Kapolei and West Oahu."
He also said the numbers underscore the need for a mass transit system on Oahu. In August, Hannemann signed into law a measure that allows the city to tack an extra one-half of a percent onto the state's 4 percent general excise tax that will enable the city to raise about $150 million a year to help pay for the transit project.
"The number of people in the city will naturally grow during the day," Hannemann said. "What we need is a better way to get them in and out of the city in an efficient manner."
On the other islands, Lihue's population nearly doubles each workday to 11,235 from 5,674; Kaanapali on Maui sees a 162 percent increase to 3,604 from 1,375; and Kailua-Kona sees a 52 percent population increase to 24,935 from 20,146.
Nationwide, Washington, D.C., grows and shrinks more than any other major city during the workday; an estimated 410,000 workers increase the population 72 percent.
Overall, New York City grows by the most people during the day, about 563,000. But that is only 7 percent of the city's population of 8 million.
Atlanta grows by 62 percent while tiny Lake Buena Vista, Fla., near Walt Disney World, grows by a whopping 192,238 percent. That city, about 20 miles southeast of Orlando, has just 16 residents, according to the 2000 census. But it grows to 30,768 during the day from workers commuting to Disney and surrounding businesses.
One result of the commuting patterns and population shifts: traffic.
"That's why we are in such bad straits," said Lon Anderson, director of public and government relations for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Washington. "The traffic has gotten much worse over time, and I think these figures tell some of that story."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.