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Price of Paradise

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Bus Rapid Transit -- a $1 billion boondoggle?

Rep. Galen Fox's diagram shows how Bus Rapid Transit will evict all vehicles except buses from the right lane of one side of six-lane Kapiolani Boulevard between University Avenue and the Convention Center. At that point, BRT is supposed to cross over into the two middle lanes, which would become exclusive BRT lanes (Star-Bulletin, Aug. 25).

The diagram shows the bottleneck created in the remaining two lanes. But there is another sticking point to this plan. The new express BRT buses in the right lane must share it with the No. 3, No. 4 and No. 9 buses that also use this section of Kapiolani Boulevard.

How do the new BRT vehicles pass the slower local buses -- which still must stop at the existing bus stops on this route -- when there is no room in the adjacent lane to pass them?

Without being able to pass city buses also in the right lane, how can the $1 billion BRT plan be significantly faster than our current award-winning system?

Wally Bachman

Plan leaves many unanswered questions

There has been a lot of hype for and against the proposed BRT system before the issuance of the Final Environmental Impact Statement. At issue is not whether we should have mass transit, but what type of system would be best.

According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the population on Oahu will grow by 200,000 over a 20-year period. Will providing efficient transportation between downtown and the rural areas help increase sprawl in these rural areas? Do alternatives promote economic development or population increases?

With BRT in place, traffic congestion in 2020 will be as bad as it is now. Would an alternative to BRT, such as tripling the number of express buses, provide better results?

Are current political figures financially linked with any BRT outcomes?

Clearly, the passage of strict ethics laws to document the flow of money between contractors and politicians before passage of a billion-dollar master plan will lead to better planning.

Henry Curtis
Executive director
Life of the Land

Socialists are trying to take away our cars

Rep. Galen Fox is right: Our government simply hates the car. It is obvious in everything our public officials and lawmakers do, including leaving traffic signals unsynchronized, keeping gasoline taxes high and leaving the roads in terrible condition.

Now they want to subtract lanes -- precious, irreplaceablelanes -- for Bus Rapid Transit.

The problem is, the car doesn't readily lend itself to socialism because it is the one thing that gives us a semblance of freedom. We can go anywhere at any time, and we don't have to travel on someone else's schedule. There is no way any mass transit system can match the car's flexibility.

As ugly as it sounds, the real solution to traffic congestion is to build more roads. We also need to add more lanes to all main drags. H-1 from Waipahu to Kapolei could easily be expanded by at least one lane in each direction, for example, and a second deck should be added to Nimitz Highway from the airport area to downtown (or build it underground).

James Ko

Officials neglect customer's desires

One point not made in the Price of Paradise stories about BRT is that the city administration has adopted the attitude that residents are not customers. What does that mean? Just this: A business owner views customers as kings and strives to provide solutions to their wants and needs.

In the case of BRT planning, it is well known that more than 90 percent of road customers want to use their cars and trucks. But the city arrogantly says no to them and formulates the BRT plan to force them where they do not want to go, despite the obvious fact that the roadways are only crowded about five hours out of every 24. A creative business person would look at the problem as an opportunity to spread the business out over more time.

The bottom line is this: What is needed is attention to customer wants and needs, creativity and accountability. The current system makes government king, pushes extraordinary costs into the next two generations and holds no one accountable if BRT falls flat on its face.

Richard O. Rowland
Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

BRT will help students, Waikiki commuters

Rep. Fox's opposition to the BRT plan seems to be based on a conspiracy theory that planners wish to deprive the general public of their right to drive in their cars. I find this theory a bit strange.

There are reasons to oppose BRT. Factors such as cost and disputes over potential ridership projections are substantial grounds on which to oppose BRT. However, Fox did not do that. One must ask, why?

I support the BRT plan. Waikiki needs a better way to transport people from the hotel district to popular destinations such as Ala Moana Center and the Aloha Tower. Working Waikiki residents needs a more effective and convenient method of public transportation to go to and from work. Recently the University of Hawaii fall session started, and the Manoa neighborhood has again been drowned in the crush of cars. BRT would alleviate that pressure, as well.

Robert Morgenweck
House of Representatives candidate
23rd District (Waikiki, Ala Moana, Kakaako)




Price of Paradise
The Price of Paradise appears each week in the Sunday Insight section. The mission of POP is to contribute lively and informed dialog about public issues, particularly those having to do with our pocketbooks. Reader responses appear later in the week. If you have thoughts to share about today's POP articles, please send them, with your name and daytime phone number, to, or write to Price of Paradise, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana, Honolulu, HI 96813.
John Flanagan
Contributing Editor

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The Star-Bulletin welcomes letters that are crisp and to the point (150 to 200 words). The Star-Bulletin reserves the right to edit letters for clarity and length. Please direct comments to the issues; personal attacks will not be published. Letters must be signed and include a daytime telephone number.

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