Wednesday, July 02, 2008
New blog blasts Prevedouros run for mayor
by Larry Geller
Update: I learned after I posted this that Doug is being paid to blog on this subject. He did not disclose that in his email to me, I assumed this latest website was just another interest of his. In fact, there is a disclosure on his blog, but I challenge you to find it.
Like much of the rest of the PR on the subject of rail for Honolulu, on both sides, the sources of funding and the special interests pushing one side or the other are shadowy subjects. We, the taxpayers, are being used. It’s not the right way to plan our communities.
They are paying newspapers and bloggers to propagandize us the same way they convince us to buy pizza, bottled water, SUVs, or bad insurance plans.
Prolific blogger Doug Carlson has weighed in on the Honolulu transit with a new blog, Say Yes to the Honolulu Rail System. His most recent post raises valid questions about Panos D. Prevedouros’s qualifications for mayor.
Prevedouros is a highway expert. Should he succeed against rail-crazed Mufi Hannemann, we can be assured that he would push with similar zeal for his pet HOT lanes, and Honolulu would find itself in the grip of a different bunch of special, predatory, interests. Over and beyond that, it would be an entree for the Grassroot (sic) Institute and Reason Foundation to take up residence in Honolulu Hale.
Doug and I will have to differ on a number of aspects of this debate. For one thing, I fail to see how a train that doesn’t go where people want it (e.g., UH Manoa, Waikiki) and which adds to the number of cars on the road by encouraging development in presently blank spaces on the map can ever reduce traffic. Even rail proponents have admitted that traffic will not decrease. Sure, those lucky (?) enough to have their neighborhoods blighted by overhead tracks might get into town without cars, but others will take their place in the traffic jam.
Rail won’t removed any cars from the roads
Doug, consider this: parking in town is at a premium. When one commuter decides to switch to rail and gives up a parking space, another driver will quickly take it. Parking spaces in town will always be full, they are in demand. And that car will, of course, have to occupy space on the highways and streets. Spaces in front of your car perhaps.
Coming behind you will be the cars owned by residents of the new homes and condos along and beyond the transit route that developers are salivating over. Transit increases the value of their property and makes it more desirable to build housing. Or shopping, either way, it encourages more cars.
So the net change in cars on the road should rail befall us will be zero at best, an increase at worst.
Can you imagine how bad traffic will become if Prevedouros should be elected and succeed in building his replacement blight: noisy, filthy, and likely privatized, elevated toll roads?
Our city government can’t say no to development
Without citizen participation in community planning, you can bet that those developments will be approved. A few thousand new homes here, a few thousand there. Each with about the same number of new cars added to the roads.
So the traffic reduction argument for rail has itself been reduced to absurdity, IMHO.
We, the people, can plan our living spaces. It’s not just a battle between developer-funded, rail-crazed Mufi on one side and highway-happy Prevedouros and his privatization-prone Libertarian supporters on the other. We should be given the chance.
It’s more like the grassroots against Grassroot (sic) and Mufi together. Neither of those groups, investing large sums for their own political gain, trust or care about what the average Honolulu family cares about. Neither of them.
Larry, I'm slow on the uptake to your blog post (I'm writing on the 4th). You and I agreeable disagreers unlike 99% of the Comments posters in the newspapers, so let me affably disagree with the thrust of your post.
I didn't really "blast" Prevedouros. I simply put the spotlight on his own bio, something the mainstream media haven't done, and found absolutely nothing there about transit -- zero! That means the leading critic of transit is a highwayman. Anti-transit Barbara Marshall had her transparent reasons for appointing him to the panel of transit experts, but clearly, he isn't one and was put there to obfuscate and disrupt. He was outvoted 4-1, which is a landslide by any measure.
But more important is the distinction that must be made about why rail should be built. If your objective is to "solve" traffic congestion, good luck with anything short of draconian measures -- such as fining people to drive into town or restricting road use somehow (odd and even?). Rail systems aren't built to "solve" traffic congestion. They are intended to create mobility for individuals and be an alternative to sitting in traffic. There is no mobility today because there's no alternative.
Transit critics love to point out that traffic congestion won't be relieved by a transit system (actually, projections show there will be a 11-percent decrease in car use with the system in 2030 compared to what the count would be without the system). But critics have no good response to our assertion as stated in the previous paragraph. Riding the train will be a choice, and people choose transit over their car for cost and convenience.
The rail system will win people over easily for both those reasons. The train can't built soon enough, with gas approaching $5/gallon. Imagine what it will be in 10 years! Cost alone will put a damper on automobile use, and so will transit oriented development, with new clusters of housing and commercial space built near transit stations.
We both agree on this: More highways and more reliance on internal combustion engines are incompatible with a progressive future. My final point: Train will be powered by alternate energy eventually, including ocean thermal energy conversion. Now, THAT's a progressive way to plan the future.