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Forum on Rail Transit Plan (Pearl Johnson)
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Forum on Rail Transit Plan

Oct. 27 LWV Forum on Rail Transit
At the table are (l to r) Toru Hamayasu, moderator JoAnn Maruoka, Panos Prevedouros and Ann Kobayashi (Gary Okino was out of camera range). Audience members are lined up at the microphone to comment and ask questions.

An overflow crowd attended Honolulu League’s meeting on the proposed rail transit system. Despite minimal publicity, every seat in room 224 of the State Capitol was filled on October 27.

On the panel were:

Toru Hamayasu of Honolulu’s Department of Transportation Services

Panos Prevedouros, professor of Civil Engineering at UH

City councilmember Gary Okino, champion of rail

City councilmember Ann Kobayashi, responsible for substituting “fixed guideway” for “rail” in the chosen Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA)

League member JoAnn Maruoka moderated

Toru Hamayasu asserted that buses would cost more than rail and the City’s $10 million Alternatives Analysis did study High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes and buses.

Panos Prevedouros presented his design of HOT lanes for Oahu, which does not go through residential areas but will speed buses, vanpools and carpools into town.

Gary Okino asserted that a rail system is the only way to go.

Ann Kobayashi emphasized that whatever is done must “Fit our city, and fit our pocketbook.” She pointed out that the City Council will choose the technology for transit.

Members of the audience were concerned that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) would not include buses in its scope. The high cost of transit passes in Vancouver, cited as the model for Honolulu, was pointed out.

To see the entire forum, go to page 3 for the broadcast schedule and a link to the youtube video.

Watch the Forum on TV or the Internet

It’s possible to see the entire forum on rail transit.

Go to Olelo Channel 49 at these times:

11/11/07 Sun 12:30 pm

11/12/07 Mon 2:00 pm

11/18/07 Sun 10:30 am

11/26/07 Mon 2:00 pm

If you can’t watch at the above times, you can also view almost the entire forum on youtube, but the quality of the tape recording is not as good. Go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=onHwxy2x_vU. Being able to watch this anytime trumps the quality of the tape.

The Audience Was Engaged

The forum on rail transit was to start at 9:30 am. By 9:15 seats were starting to fill up in room 224 of the State Capitol on Saturday, Oct. 27

There had been little advance publicity. A 2-inch ad in the Honolulu Weekly, along with items in the Roll Call section on page 5 of the same paper. Our press releases had been ignored by all the other media.

The Weekly ad said “RAIL IS NOT A DONE DEAL … Other options to relieve traffic congestion are still possible. Learn about them and about the almost meaningless reduction traffic that the City’s own analysis predicts when rail is fully implemented. Voice your opinion and get your questions answered.”

Before the meeting, I asked people how they had heard about the forum. A couple from Chicago had brought the Weekly ad with them. Others said they had received emails from friends.

By 9:30 almost all of the 50 seats were filled. I can only conclude that interest in the subject of the meeting was extraordinary. My unscientific polling of ordinary citizens had correctly uncovered the prevailing unease and the need for more information on the proposed rail system.

Throughout the 2-hour meeting, everyone seemed engaged. The interest was palpable. When the forum was over, people lingered to talk more.

If you have ideas for more meetings on rail transit, please call me at 537-5471.

Pearl Johnson

Honolulu Weekly ad

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