Wasted time on road shows importance of transit options
A national report on highway congestion estimates that Honolulu travelers waste 24 hours a year bottled up in traffic.
THE latest annual report on highway congestion in urban areas estimates that Honolulu travelers spend 24 additional hours waiting in traffic, but that is a fraction of the extra time spent by commuters from Leeward and Central Oahu to the downtown area. The rise in wasted commuting time supports efforts to achieve alternative methods ranging from the new ferry pilot program to a fixed-guideway system.
The Texas Transportation Institute's 2007 Urban Mobility Report determines that the Honolulu driver spent an average of 24 extra hours in traffic caused by congestion in 2005, about the same as for the past decade, when wasted hours yearly ranged from 20 hours in 2002 to 26 hours in 1995. The report estimates that the delay during 2005 cost the city's economy $166 million, or $14.60 an hour for each driver in lost time and vehicle operating costs.
Those islandwide averages are trivial compared to the wasted time spent by downtown commuters from Mililani and Kapolei. At off-hours, driving between Kapolei and downtown takes less than a half-hour, while daily rush-hour travel time to and from work can easily add 20 minutes each way. That wasted time for each commuter can amount to as much as three hours weekly, or 150 hours a year.
That wasted time is an important factor in the importance of the ferry system, where wireless Internet access might allow a commuter to spend the hour aboard TheBoat working while on the way to the office. If the ferry operates at full capacity of 447 people a day, KITV-News calculated that the $5 million federal grant and $1 million in city expenditures for the operation amounts to $52 per passenger daily.
If the ferry operation is a success, it might be expanded to other locations ranging from Iroquois Point near Ewa Beach to possibly, at some point, eastern Oahu. The cost of the ferry might seem exorbitant at these early stages but it could pay dividends in the years ahead. If successful, the ferry and later the mass transit system should control if not relieve highway congestion.
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