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Charter Commission
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League Testifies Before the Charter Commission
Press Release - Rail
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Eve G. Anderson
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Duke Bainum
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Lois J. Evora
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Benjamin T. Hopkins
Leaguers "Running to Win" - James H. Koshi
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Barbara Marumoto
Leaguers "Running to Win" - George T. Ono
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Jane B. Tatibouet
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Cynthia Thielen
Leaguers "Running to Win" - Michael D. Wilson

Rail Transit News

The bill to increase the General Excise Tax to 4.5% has passed Council first reading. Second reading is scheduled for August 26. Third and final reading, September 23. Testimony at each meeting is limited to one minute. The public can also speak, under the Sunshine Law, at any Council Committee meeting.

League members are urged to sign up to speak, as individuals, in support of our position that the tax is regressive; that the State tax credit, even after the 1992 legislative changes, gives rich families 7 or 8 times as much as it does poor families; and that since it merely transfers money taxpayers already paid the State, it gives them no net tax reduction.

The final Environmental Impact Statement for Honolulu's Rail transit project was approved by Governor Waihee on July 27. It includes more or less accurate paraphrases of League's comments on both the 1990 Alternatives Analysis --Draft EIS and the 1992 Supplementary Draft EIS.

A typical example -- League comment: In our May 1992 comments we pointed out that in the UH Evaluation of the DEIS, transit expert Parkinson included a table showing that the number of daily rail passengers per 1,000 population for U.S. cities with rail systems ranged from 8 to 22 while 209 per 1,000 was projected for Honolulu.

EIS response: The Bus carries over 240 daily riders per 1000 population. The patronage forecasts indicate that systemwide ridership (including bus) will rise to 340 per 1,000 population, 58% of whom [197 per 1,000] will use the rapid transit system. The large existing ridership is the key factor that justifies the ridership projections in Honolulu.

Question: It is the assumption that some 200 people out of every 1,000 population will use rail that we questioned. We may have large existing bus ridership, but the EIS response still does not explain how our rail ridership can be 10 or more times that of cities of comparable or greater size.

In June a separate technical report on the "Economic and Financial Impacts of the Honolulu Rapid Transit Project" was released, prepared by consultant Peat Marwick & Co. It estimated that the project would create 27,500 man years of employment, generate $2.7 billion in new business, yield a return of 8.2% on every extra dollar spent over the cost of an all-bus system, attract 17,900 more passengers a day than an all-bus system, save $63,342,567 per year by 2005 in travel time decreases, etc. All this, it is claimed, would cost only $1.70 per person per month (family incomes from $10,000 to $50,000) and $3.00 for the average resident, in General Excise Tax increases.

In a critical memorandum dated July 7, 1992 Lowell Kalapa of the Tax Foundation of Hawaii addresses major flaws in the P.M. analysis, concluding that little, if any, new capital will be infused into the local economy, that net cost to taxpayers is not the $31 million a year as claimed but $117 million, that the annual $43 million tax credit is actually not "free money" but has been previously paid to the State by taxpayers, that the report fails to address the pyramiding of the additional 0.5% GET rate and its effect on prices, that actual GET revenues may well be far less than projected due to the recession and the fall in tourist patronage, etc., etc.

Also in June, a preliminary "working paper" was released by OMPO (Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization) on the TSM "alternatives" study requested by the City Council in August 1990. In our critical comments dated July 6, League pointed out that the Council had called for "measures to increase transit ridership or vehicle occupancy or reduce travel times for buses and other HOV's," and also for "the inclusion of measures that include major capital improvements."

We noted that only a few of the 28 measures [studied] are primarily directed at speeding up buses and HOV vehicles, which we think is essential whether rail is built or not. The SDEIS shows only about 6% of future daily trips using rail. The other 94% will be using buses, or automobiles, in addition to some using the rail for part of their trips. We think this is where the emphasis of the study should go -- to increase average vehicle occupancy by assisting HOV users, and to encourage higher transit ridership, whether rail or bus.

"Above all, we feel that whatever funds are available to complete or expand the study should be concentrated on what we consider the most important element of a TSM program in the spirit described in the Council Resolution- -the development of mass transit improvements (in addition to or instead of rail, as the case may be) such as busways and transitways. Though these require substantial capital investment, the amounts are far less than for rail and, by using buses all the way, the high rate of transferring which accompanies rail is markedly reduced. We feel that omission of this element from the TSM study weakens its usefulness, particularly if rail is not built at this time."

Astrid Monson
Chair, Rail Transit Study Committee

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