"The Mythology of Growth and Transportation"
George Mason, publisher of Pacific Business News, in the 11/13 issue cites some facts from the Urban Land Institute's recently published booklet "Myths and Facts about Transportation and Growth".
- Concerning the notion that "stopping development will stop growth", ULI concludes that: "Even with no new development, traffic would increase due to the population's growing mobility".
- The myth that suburbanites will not ride buses is refuted by ULI. According to ULI substantial evidence suggests suburbanites will ride buses when the service is reasonably fast and convenient. They cite 5 Western cities whose bus ridership as a percentage of the total commuting market increased markedly,
- Mason notes that Mayor Frank Fasi is not going to like the conclusions ULI makes from its research on the subject of rail transit systems. "It is believed," says ULI, "that in high growth areas with low level of transit ridership, major capital investments in new rail systems will reduce driving substantially".
"But the facts indicate otherwise", state ULI. "Where does transit work? An intensive study ... found that the travel volumes needed to justify fixed guideway systems are: dense residential. corridors, high levels of downtown employment, and low levels of car ownership.
"Rail transit works best in high densities that already have it. It is an expensive and ineffectual way to reduce congestion in a city that does not develop around rail transit".
Mason points out that there is a particular problem on Oahu that proponents of fixed rail transit have not adequately addressed. That problem, he states, is that not enough people live within walking distance of the proposed transit stations to make it convenient. Far too many commuters live upland of the proposed train route (usually in the wetter regions), and would either require very frequent bus service or be able to drive their cars to parking lots at each of the fixed rail stations. The cost of the land to provide adequate parking at rail stations would make the proposed system prohibitively expensive. Even if parking were planned, chances are that not too many people would care to drive two or three miles to a transit station in order to catch a train for an additional two or three mile ride.
Undoubtedly, there are substantial arguments on both sides of the transit issue, he concludes, but attitudes have been changing considerably since rail mass transit for Oahu was first proposed 30 years ago. It may be a proposal whose time has come and gone.