Council should focus on non-transit issues
The City Council's transportation chairman has shelved a proposal to change the technology to be used for the mass transit system.
After months of debate, the City Council finally has dropped its resistance to steel-wheel technology for the mass transit system. Council members should concentrate on other matters that might need their attention.
An expert panel in February recommended steel rail over other technologies - monorail, magnetic levitation and a rubber-tire system on concrete. The Council's Transportation Committee voted in favor of steel rail but the Council has been deadlocked since then as Mayor Mufi Hannemann has moved ahead to begin work on the elevated system running from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi favors a bus system because it would be cheaper to build. The expert panel's consensus was that the steel system would be more expensive to build but operational costs would be less than the other options. Experts say concerns about noise are unfounded because the other options would be just as noisy.
Council Transportation Chairman Nestor Garcia shelved the bill introduced by Kobayashi and Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz to continue consideration of a bus system and magnetic levitation, essentially ending the debate.
Opponents of the transit system have gathered 7,000 signatures on a petition to put on November's ballot to decide whether "Honolulu mass transit shall not include trains or rail." They need 45,000 signatures, but turning back from the progress already made on the system would be a shame.
The system has gained congressional leadership's support for federal funding, and Hannemann hopes to break ground on the system late next year. The system is to be opened in phases from 2012 to 2018. Only then will residents realize the worth of such a system.
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