May 2009 Home   Newsletters

June 2009

July-August 2009

Architect Attends "Workshop" (Peter Vincent)
City Goes It Alone to Fund Rail (Pearl Johnson)
Honolulu League Joins New Coalition (Pearl Johnson)
Stalwart Members Celebrated (Piilani Kaopuiki)
Welcome New Member
League News
Calendar of Events

Honolulu League Joins New Coalition

Honolulu League has joined a newly-formed coalition, the Oahu Coalition for Affordable & Flexible Transit, to push for a better alternative to the Mayor’s heavy (not light) rail transit system. We joined the coalition because, as Pearl Johnson said in its June 10 press release, "While the LWV-Honolulu has opposed the entire all-elevated rail plan from its inception, we understand that it could now happen. If it does, the League wants to ensure that the voters and residents of Honolulu County will get the most technologically advanced, affordable, flexible, convenient, accessible, and safest mass transit system within the limited means of Oahu's small tax base."

An AIA member of the Honolulu Chapter of the American Institute of Architects explains the coalition’s alternative flexible light rail system: “The new light rail technology with low floor cars, using wireless intermittent "safe" third rail power is the most affordable modern light rail technology out there for Honolulu. It can meet our needs of running at-grade, elevated and, in historic districts and the urban Honolulu core, without overhead power wires where it runs on buried wireless-intermittent power under the cars.

“It was developed by Alstoms, is called Alstom's APS and has been used in Bordeaux, France for over 5 years. It is my understanding that Alstoms has contracts to install APS in Angers, Orleans, Reims, and Dubai.

“Bombardier has developed a similar light rail technology and it is currently being tested in Germany. It is also made by Spain CAF, and I heard that Siemens is making this new technology also. It is expected that soon, the two Japanese manufacturers will be making this new wireless light rail technology.

“This newer light rail technology is the most flexible and most affordable rail transit technology out there presently and is capable of speeds from 30 to 60 miles per hour. AIA Honolulu has a video of this on our transit website, and this video has been shown to the City Council members and others in the community. It shows the system running in the downtown historic district of Bordeaux, France, and has been in service since December 2003.

“The Bombardier Vancouver SkyTrain elevated-automated metro rail system is 23 years old, and was first used in Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Expo in 1986. This uses the system planned for Honolulu, a “hot” third rail power which cannot be safely brought back to grade, due to the electrocution problem of people and animals contacting the electrified third rail. It was heavily subsidized and paid for by the Canadian government and the Province, not the citizens of Vancouver City. When Bombardier developed this new automated technology years ago, they thought that they would sell a lot of their new (at that time) system, but they did not have many City/takers, as it was too expensive and all elevated. Many of the older and larger US cities have taken down their old elevated rail tracks due to the noise, homeless, drug, graffiti and blight problems, e.g. Boston and New York.

“The Miami Metrorail is the only all elevated rail system in the US, built in the mid-1980’s. It also uses a similar elevated rail system as Vancouver, and has been plagued with low ridership and high maintenance and operating costs. Their elevated concrete guideways and stations need constant repair and maintenance, and the train cars are deteriorating in the Miami sun and salt air. It sometimes is called the Miami rail folly.

“The vast majority of the US cities have gone to true light rail technology with low floor cars. Recent new light rail systems have been used in Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Denver, Charlotte, Houston, Phoenix, and Seattle. These are all at-grade with only short portions going elevated where needed.”

The coalition currently includes:

Hawai`i Advocates For Consumer Rights
Hawai`i Independent Democrats
Hawaii's 1000 Friends
The League of Women Voters of Honolulu
Mr. Randy Ching
Mr. Geoffrey Paterson, AIA Emeritus

Pearl Johnson

May 2009 Top   Home   Newsletters July-August 2009