Two city meetings will introduce transit options that include, yes,
>> Illustrations and explanations of the routes being considered
TOLL LANES, rail tunnels and small trains are among the ideas that the public will be asked to consider during meetings tonight and tomorrow night as the city begins the process of narrowing the choices for a mass transit system.
City officials also want to hear your ideas for the Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project.
TRANSIT 'SCOPING MEETINGS'
Tonight: Blaisdell Center Pikake Room, 5 to 8 p.m.
Tomorrow: Kapolei Middle School cafeteria, 7 to 9 p.m.
For more information: www.honolulutransit.org
"They should all come forward," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said last week*
about public input at the two so-called "scoping" meetings to introduce possible mass transit options.
City Council Transportation Chairman Todd Apo said: "I'd love to see everyone out there. The public input is of the utmost importance, especially in the early stages of this process.
"Let's make sure people have a good strong voice if there are legitimate strong alternatives that are not on the paper right now."
But some critics say the process for selecting mass transit solutions is already on the fast track to a rail system at the expense of other alternatives.
"The fix is in," said rail opponent Cliff Slater.
The city will present several alternatives at tonight's and tomorrow's meetings, which are designed to let the public know the scope of the project to help improve traffic congestion along a 23-mile corridor from Kapolei to the University of Hawaii.
By November a study is scheduled to be produced that will detail the pros and cons of each alternative and make a recommendation on a preferred alternative. The City Council will then choose an alternative.
The alternatives that will be presented at the meetings include:
» The "no build" option that will look at existing transit and highway capabilities and transportation projects already in the works by the year 2030.
» The "transportation system management" option that will look at beefing up the current bus system based on a hub-and-spoke system and adding an afternoon Zipper Lane service to the current morning rush hour Zipper Lane.
» The "managed lanes alternative," which is the construction of an elevated two-lane highway system between Waipahu and downtown for buses, para-transit vehicles for handicapped passengers and van pools. Single-occupant vehicles would also be allowed along with these high-occupancy vehicles, but the single-occupant vehicles would have to pay a toll.
» Four fixed-guideway routes for a proposed rail system, although the kind of rail-transit technology -- for example, monorail or magnetic levitation -- is not specified. The routes all begin at a transit terminal facility in Kapolei and end at the UH-Manoa lower campus, but specific roads and highways in between are different. A couple of the routes maneuver through Salt Lake and Moanalua, and two of the routes have the option of going into Waikiki.
The report also says that small trains serving multiple destinations would be "more suitable" than large 1,000-passenger trains or "personal rapid transit" service that carries four to 10 passengers on a fixed guideway.
Three of the four routes would go underground in downtown Honolulu.
Slater said that in the failed 1992 rail plan, going underground was discounted because it too expensive.
"They looked at underground. The cost was just outrageous," Slater said.
But Councilman Gary Okino, a rail advocate, said the technology has changed to where going below ground might not be as expensive as it was in the past, with places like Vancouver, Canada, creating new rail lines below street level.
"It's all in the route," Okino said.
The mayor, who is in favor of rail, disagrees that the process is geared toward rail.
"I think we've debated this issue to death in terms of people taking positions -- are you pro-rail; are you anti-rail? -- but I would ask people to take a look at this because there are other alternatives on the table," he said. "It's not over until it's over."
Slater contends otherwise, noting that one of the fixed-guideway alternatives under consideration is similar to the route that was put forward in 1992.
Slater said that while the plan also calls for toll lanes, it is not the same as his and others' call for reversible high-occupancy toll lanes, or "HOT" lanes, another indication that rail is geared to become first choice.
"There's no HOT lanes," Slater said, adding that with the Managed Lanes Alternative, "it's one lane each way. That doesn't take any cars off the highway."
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
» Mayor Mufi Hannemann made comments last week encouraging public participation in two transit meetings being held this week. A Page A1 article yesterday incorrectly reported that he had made those comments on Monday.