Rail favored as mass transit among meeting attendees
But written comments from the public from two meetings show no preferred route
People who attended a meeting earlier this month in Kapolei on mass-transit options appear to be more in favor of rail than those who attended a similar meeting in Honolulu, according to a review of public comment sheets.
The public's preference
The city released 178 pages of public comment sheets from two meetings held earlier this month to garner ideas from people on mass-transit options.
Blaisdell Meeting, Dec. 13
» Number of people submitting written comments: 81
» Those indicating some preference for rail: 33
» Percentage with rail preference: 41 percent
Kapolei Meeting, Dec. 14
» Number of people submitting written comments: 57
» Those indicating some preference for rail: 44
» Percentage with rail preference: 77 percent
"As a resident of West Oahu, I believe that a convenient, fast transit system for Honolulu is desperately needed," Larry Vaughan wrote on his sheet to the city. "From what I've learned at the meeting tonight, a fixed guideway system has the capacity and speed to satisfy our needs."
But a chunk of the people who provided written comments at the Honolulu meeting also preferred a rail system. There appears to be no clear favorite among the participants on which rail route would be the best.
"The only one that will work is a rail system, but the routes need change," wrote John Thomas, who attended the Kapolei meeting.
A compact disc with copies of public comment sheets -- one of the ways the public could comment on several proposed mass-transit options at the meetings -- was released to the Star-Bulletin on Wednesday afternoon. The original comment sheets were not made available for review, and addresses, phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the people making the comments were redacted.
The newspaper requested to review the sheets at both the Dec. 13 meeting at the Blaisdell Center and Dec. 14 meeting at Kapolei Middle School, but the city denied the requests.
A city spokesman acknowledged at the time that the documents were public records, but maintained that he did not have to provide immediate access to the documents.
Last week, the Star-Bulletin submitted a letter requesting access to the documents after the city insisted on the written request.
City spokesman Bill Brennan could not be reached for comment.
Earlier this month, the city presented several mass-transit alternatives -- including four rail routes -- at so-called public "scoping" meetings, which are required as part of the process for seeking federal transit funding and 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.
The city also wanted to hear whether members of the public had any ideas to add. One way to submit written comments was on a form that was provided at the meetings. After writing their comments, people were asked to deposit the form into a box.
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 a type of transit to be used.
The city released copies of 178 pages of public comment sheets.
A total of 81 people submitted written comments at the Blaisdell meeting, while 57 did the same the following night in Kapolei.
All but 13 of those who provided written comments in Kapolei indicated some sort of preference for rail even if they did not like the options presented.
"Think about how pretty the view from an elevated rail. Honolulu has some of the best scenery in the whole word. People will ride this just for fun," wrote Charlie Bracken.
"The train is essential. The engineers can figure a plan. Tax me! Put a toll on the H-1! Just do it. Don't let this fail again," John Claucherty wrote.
But many indicated which route they would like and suggested bus routes to complement the proposed rail lines.
A total of 33 comment sheets from the Blaisdell meeting indicated a liking for rail. But the majority of the comments did not solely back rail and indicated other ideas or noted questions or concerns, including environmental impact and having a rail system go underground.
"I think the project is short-sighted and unfair in that it doesn't address the needs of residents islandwide," wrote Rod Schultz.
"'Build-it-and-they-will-come' is an expensive way, as well as not meeting the needs of our communities," wrote Maureen Muraoka.
The sheets were also a way to make other commentary:
"Where's the mayor? He was @ (Blaisdell) last night! Why isn't he here tonight? Shibai," wrote one person whose signature was difficult to make out.
"Most important -- 10 years or so let's celebrate completion, not another meeting like this," wrote Larry Howard.