August 1992 Home   Newsletters

September 1992

October 1992

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Bus Rapid Transit vs. Rail
League Testifies - on the General Excise Tax Surcharge - 1 (Arlene Ellis)
League Testifies - on the General Excise Tax Surcharge - 2 (Astrid Monson)
League Testifies - Rail
League Testifies - Resort Mixed Use
League Testifies - Annual Development Plan
Oahu Silver Legislature
General Membership Meeting on Proposed Charter Amendments
Letter to the Editor (Lawrence H. Gordon)
Education Forum

League Testifies - on the General Excise Tax Surcharge - 1


AUGUST 25, 1992

Are the benefits promised to be gained from a fixed rail system worth its enormous financial cost?

The argument that building rail will make for better city planning, concentrate development and prevent urban sprawl is not valid.

The official analysis put out by the City on page S-26 states that "Land use impacts from either TSM or the fixed guideway alternative would be unlikely to result in changes in the amount or overall trend of existing or planned development at the regional level." On page 5-4 of the same analysis, it reiterates that "at the corridor level, no impact on development projects is expected with the amended LPA." And ends with "The proposed TSM alternative or the amended LPA would produce no substantive impact on the distribution of trends related to population, employment, housing, or income characteristics of the Honolulu area or within the study corridor."

If the city grants zoning concessions and privileges to owners of land at the stations, such as greater height and density, development would be attracted there, but the gain is to the large land owners, rather than to the City as a whole.

The argument that rail would prevent urban sprawl is also an error. On the contrary, if people think they can get into town more quickly and easily on the train, they are encouraged to move farther out into the suburbs where land is cheaper, and if anything, urban sprawl is increased, not prevented. The argument that development around the rail station would provide up to 60% affordable housing is a dream. The high cost of land around the stations would make the housing subsidy prohibitive. We note that the development community is not embracing this idea with any enthusiasm.

The argument that building rail would create thousands of jobs and pump a lot of money into the island economy is shibai. You can't spend money without first raising it, so the money that goes into the local economy comes from the taxpayers. The federal subsidy matches the money to be spent outside Oahu for equipment and materials. There is no new net capital coming into the State's economy.

Two billion dollars could build thousands of affordable homes -- which would provide at least as many jobs as building rail -- and all the jobs would be local. And most of the money would eventually be paid back to the City.

The argument that building rail will help move traffic and reduce congestion has been derailed by the City's own estimates and projections. Why aren't they listening to their own consultants? The Transportation Impacts Results Report dated July 1992 states that just increasing existing daily parking rates $1 would get as many drivers to use buses as would building the rail system.

City and State employees pay $30 to $35 per month for downtown parking that costs the public $150. The subsidy exceeds $100 per month per stall. If these employees were offered a choice between the cash subsidy or the parking stall, thousands would take the bus or carpool. $1200 in their pockets could pay for a trip to Las Vegas.

Arlene Ellis

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