Take a speedy second look at transit choices
The City Council will reconsider the technology recommended for a transit system.
A vote by the City Council to hold off on approving the technology for a mass transit system frustrated rail supporters and Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who had hoped for a decision sooner rather than later.
Though the Council's move can be seen as a needless delay, members are responding appropriately to concerns from some taxpayers about noise, property values and other effects a steel-wheel rail line will have. Moreover, the Council is fully aware that a request for federal funds to pay for 30 to 50 percent of the $3.7 billion project could be jeopardized if it doesn't act quickly.
After several hours of public testimony, the Council amended a bill to approve the steel-on-steel mode chosen by a panel of experts as the best fit for the city, putting magnetic levitation and rubber-tire vehicles back in the mix of technologies.
The panel recommended steel wheels for cost and reliability, but noted it was the noisiest, an issue that drew concerns from residents who live near the proposed route. Some worried that the noise could be too disturbing and lower their property values; others were afraid they could lose their homes to a transit line.
The type of system needs to be chosen before the city can begin an environmental review and seek federal transit funds. The amended bill sets back the process to where it was before the panel made its recommendation. However, reasonable questions raised by taxpayers should not be ignored. At the same time, the Council should give due consideration to the panel's selection.
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