Rail or bus? Why not burro and jeepneys?
The City Council's decision to put a question on the November ballot so that voters can decide what kind of public transit system we get is a good one, but it doesn't go far enough. It completely ignores, for instance, the benefits of incorporating burros, rickshaws and jeepneys into the transportation system.
As it is worded now, the question on the ballot merely says: "Shall the powers, duties, and functions of the city, through its director of transportation services, include establishment of a steel wheel on steel rail transit system?"
Granted, the argument up to now has been between the people who favor the $4 billion steel-rail trains and those who don't want them. Why does that have to be the only choice?
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens says to meet our future energy needs we should consider using every possible method to generate power: oil, natural gas, wind, solar, nuclear (both types: nyoo-klee-ur and noo-kyuh-lur), french fry oil, health club stationary bicycles, electric eels, rubber bands, anti-gravity, pro-gravity and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.
In the same way, Hawaii should use ALL forms of transportation to wean us off of the foreign oil teat.
I propose the City Council amend the election ballot question to this:
"Shall the powers, duties, and functions of the city incorporate all of the following forms of transportation into its public transit services: buses, cars, steel-wheel trains, mag-lev trains, bicycles, unicycles, skateboards, burros, jeepneys, rickshaws, horse-drawn carriages, cheetah-drawn carriages, moving sidewalks, pedi-cabs, pedi-buses, pedi-cars (i.e. Fred Flintstone-mobiles) and pedi-flying cars (when available)?"
And the answer would be an overwhelming "YES!"
The idea is that if we use all the different possible modes of transportation available, there won't be so many cars on the road burning up gas. I know that if I could take a rickshaw to Safeway, I would. I know some people would have to get used to the idea of using a fellow human being as a beast of burden, but think of it this way: You are saving the planet and keeping a certain segment of the population (rickshaw pullers) in tip-top physical shape. And why not horse-drawn carriages? Why are we only allowed to use those during Christmas and only to look at the holiday light displays?
I rode jeepneys, the little gaudy bus-like objects used in Manila, and I can report that they can hold up to 45 people quite uncomfortably and are apparently powered by their horns.
So, let's widen our transportation horizons and not get locked into just rail, buses or cars. If burros are good enough for the Grand Canyon and getting down to Kalaupapa, what's wrong with using them in the concrete jungle?
Buy Charles Memminger's hilarious new book, "Hey, Waiter, There's An Umbrella In My Drink!" at island book stores or online
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