Thursday, January 24, 2008


City Council lets experts choose train, but will cars be the future?

by Larry Geller

Yesterday's paper added playground equipment to the list of things the City doesn't maintain. Why do we think Mufi's train will still be running a few years after they build it?

If passengers don't enjoy switching from car to bus to train to bus to walking, will the City continue to run it at all, should ridership fail to materialize?

An alternative to the train is on the horizon

We better have a backup plan in case it rusts solid to its tracks.

Fortunately, there is a hot new transportation alternative catching fire around the world: the car! Small, cheap cars. The price of oil surely has something to do with it.  So here they come, ready or not!

Smart Car nearThere is the Smartcar. I'm not sure how this translates to highway utilization, though. Will more cars be able to use the H-1 if they are smaller? At least there will be more parking available if we let them double up in one space. Here's a pic I snapped near St. Andrews.

Regardless of whether they help relieve traffic congestion, smaller, cheaper, more maneuverable cars appearing on the scene would be an incentive for people not to use Mufi's train. Environmentalists are already afraid of what that might mean in India, due to the recent announcement of the Tata Nano, an affordable small car that could drastically boost car ownership there and elsewhere. I don't know what it would mean for the environment if small cars like this become more popular here.

These are the cars

Watch out for the Nano to spread from India to other countries and eventually even to the USA.

Other automakers are poised to bring out small, competitive, affordable cars. Many will never make it past the concept stage, but others will be out on the streets before long. And they will be competing with mass transit systems everywhere.

I don't expect to ever see this next one hit the streets, but it's cute!

When we figure out that the train won't relieve highway congestion on Oahu we'll be in the same fix as other cities. We'll have to make better use of our roads or innovate ways to avoid using cars altogether when possible. Honolulu could have taken measures such as staggered work hours already, but hasn't. It looks very much like we'll have to figure out how to get to work on our own.

So if smaller, cheaper cars become available, people may take matters into their own hands, and avoid the inconvenience of the train. Of course, for most of us, the train won't go anywhere we need it to go anyway. But the small car will take us everywhere.


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