Stop the transparent attempt to sabotage mass transit system
The price of gasoline in Hawaii is approaching $5 dollars a gallon. The U.S. Supreme Court has recently determined that the Environmental Protection Agency can regulate carbon emissions from vehicles and potentially halt road expansion projects that increase carbon emissions (which most do). World oil production and reserves have peaked and are starting to decline. Demand for oil is spiking as China, India and Second World countries surpass the United States in growth.
For some City Council members to claim that they need more time to analyze transit options for Honolulu is just plain irresponsible to citizens and our children who require alternatives to the car right now. For other Council members still distraught by the passage of the excise tax increase to pay for a mass transit system, the delay in making a transit decision appears to the public to be an attempt to sabotage transit in its entirety if for no other reason than to uphold anti-tax principles.
If our rail project dies now, all of us will pay exponentially more in the coming years as the cost of living on Oahu and traffic congestion exacerbate our current inability to attract new businesses, new job-seekers and new visitors.
To top it off, now we have an 11th-hour "stop rail" campaign from the same-old freeway special interests. Note to the anti-transit crowd: We know what you are against. Now tell us what you are for. How do you propose to deal with skyrocketing oil prices? More freeways, more car dependence? How do you plan to move people around the island once fossil fuels are cost-prohibitive or pau? Even with alternative fuel sources, what do you plan to do about car congestion? You owe Honolulu an honest explanation of what you plan to do to relieve congestion and make transportation affordable. Until then, your opposition to transit is hollow and disingenuous.
Jeff Merz is a member of the Waikiki Neighborhood Board. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own.