Honolulu Is Not Big Enough for Heavy Rail (Bob Crone)|
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Honolulu Is Not Big Enough for Heavy Rail
Our current mayor – like Mayors Fasi and Harris before him and even Kirk Caldwell in his current TV ads - says that Honolulu is the 12th largest city in the country. This is comparing Honolulu's METROPOLITAN population (905,034) to the population within the URBAN AREA of other cities (i.e. 764,976 in San Francisco, 599,351 in Boston, 594,210 in Seattle, 588,292 in Washington DC, 519,145 in Atlanta, 409,719 in Miami, etc.). All figures are the US Census Bureau’s 2007 estimate.
Now, who among us REALLY thinks Honolulu is a bigger city than San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Washington, Atlanta, or Miami? This apples and oranges comparison is the kind of political misinformation that leads people to believe we could actually afford such an expensive rail system!!
The figure we should be looking at is the metropolitan population (2,116,581 for Vancouver and 905,034 for Honolulu for example), not the population of the urban area (578,041 for Vancouver and 375,571 for Honolulu), because it is taxpayers of the metropolitan area who pay for the rail, not of the urban area. That's because most rail systems in the US and Canada extend out into the suburban towns and areas, rather than being restricted to within the city limits.
In the census estimate, Honolulu is ranked 53rd in the US (by metropolitan population) and 49th (by urban area population). Grade-separated rail systems (heavy rail such as the mayor’s proposed train) are in the top 12 US metropolitan areas (from #1 New York thru #12 San Francisco), plus Baltimore at #21. US metropolitan areas ranked 13 thru 48 (Phoenix thru Salt Lake City), plus Dallas-Ft Worth at #4 and Houston at #6, use light rail mostly at grade. There is no rail in metropolitan areas ranked 49 thru 52.
So, the question is: How can Honolulu with the tax base of a metropolitan area ranked 53rd in the country even be contemplating an expensive grade-separated heavy rail system? Obviously, for a city its size, the right rail is light rail!
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