Rail Myths and Facts
Steel-on-Steel Rail is the best solution for Honolulu.
Rail is not the best solution for a city of Honolulu’s size.
NO city remotely comparable to Honolulu in size has built, or plans to build, an elevated steel-on steel heavy rail system. Special interest PACs like Pacific Resource Partners and Hawaii Operating Engineers Industry Stabilization Fund have spent over $1,000,000.00 trying to convince you that rail is the best solution.
In fact, cities that have elevated rail are removing the unsightly structures. The trend started when San Francisco tore down the Embarcadero in 1991.
The city’s 2003 EIS found that a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system “could accomplish virtually all of the objectives of light rail at substantially less cost.” Source: FEIS 2003
Buses have greater flexibility and will be able to go into the different communities, pick up passengers and drive them to downtown nonstop on dedicated lanes — avoiding the need for transfers as would be required for rail. When routes need adjustment due to rider needs, changes and additions can be easily made — something that cannot be done with rail.
BRT will be far less expensive than rail and can be done more quickly without digging up streets, disrupting businesses or blocking view planes, damaging historical sites and unearthing ancient burial grounds.
Plus the state-of-the-art Bus Rapid Transit that Ben Cayetano proposes will truly serve all of Oahu — not just a 20-mile dedicated route.
Rail will produce 10,000 new local jobs each year.
Most of the jobs created by Rail will go to specialized construction firms and engineers not in Hawaii.
- The University of Hawaii (UHERO) predicts only 2,000 total local jobs over the life of the project.
- The 574 rail car contract already EXPORTS jobs to Italy and US mainland.
- Kiewit & Kiewit/Kobayashi project they will create only 1650 direct jobs during their 3.5 years of construction. (Source: HART April 2012 Monthly Report)
Cayetano’s BRT plan and improvements to the city infrastructure will employ local workers with local skills.
Rail will relieve traffic congestion.
“Traffic Congestion will be WORSE in the future with rail than what it is today without rail.”
The quote above is from City Dept. of Transportation Services Director Wayne Yoshioka, published in the 2009 FEIS. “FTA agrees…” — June 2010 FTA Record of Decision, page 208.
And rail will have almost no effect in removing cars from the road. The graphic below is based on numbers from the city’s own EIS.
Rail is good for the environment.
Honolulu’s rail will promote global warming.
It will take more than 50 years for the energy saved by rail riders to offset the energy used for construction. Factor in replacement and repairs to the system over these 50 years and rail may forever be an energy black hole.
In 2025, rail will be absurdly un-green compared to third-generation plug-in hybrid vehicles, like what would be used in BRT. (See energy calculations here. )
Rail is good for our ʻāina.
Rail will promote paving paradise.
The first 3 rail stations are slated to be located in the middle of prime farm land. Some of Oahu’s most productive farms will be replaced by housing developments encouraged by rail. With “transit-oriented-development,” Oahu will lose this precious productive agricultural land forever.
And, rather than relieving traffic for Leeward residents, the city is encouraging development that will add to their traffic congestion.
Oahu has a special aesthetic character found nowhere else in the world and rail, if completed, will mar this natural beauty. 21 huge, elevated rail stations combined with 20-miles of elevated concrete tracks held up by 721 concrete pillars that are 8 feet wide with massive underground foundations are a mass of concrete that is hard to imagine.
Rail comes with a cost to both our legacy of beauty and the future of our keiki that is too steep for us to bear.