June-July 1993 Home   Newsletters

August 1993

October 1993

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Citizen's Guide to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993
Viewpoint for the Week of July 26, 1993
Testimony on Major Modification to PRU on Aloha Motors Site
Suggested Goals for Hawaii's Role in Energy and Transportation
Statement before the Zoning Committee on Downtown Heights
Statement on Aloha Motors Site for Convention Center
Congratulations - Neighborhood Board Elections
In Memoriam
Jacqueline Vogt - Kauai's PIO

Statement of Suggested Goals for State of Hawaii's Role in Energy and Transportation

With increasing public awareness that the kind of rail transit system long proposed by the City of Honolulu would be too costly to build and too heavy a tax burden to operate and maintain for a population as small as Oahu's, attention has turned on alternatives.

The key proposal emerging out of the Honolulu City Council's advisory task force on transit alternatives, is development of a bus rapid transit system providing high occupancy vehicle (HOV) and contra-flow lanes on highways; priority signalization at intersections; and, ultimately, development of an integrated island-wide bus rapid transit system -- all geared to decreasing single-occupancy vehicle use in peak traffic hours and increasing the speed, accessibility, reliability, comfort, and other advantages of buses and para-transit.

Such a system will decrease gasoline consumption and air pollution. The E.I.S. for the city's rapid transit project showed automobile mileage, and hence air pollution, at only one to two percent lower in 2005 if the rail system were built than if the "TSM - best bus" alternative were chosen.

Various Federal studies have found bus and rail systems using less than one-third the energy single-occupant automobiles require to operate, per passenger mile. Dr. Alice Rivlin, formerly head of the Congressional Budget Office and now Deputy Director of the Clinton Administration's Budget Department, testified some years ago that heavy rail systems, however, require about twice as much energy per mile as do buses, when all factors are considered.

"The Congressional Budget Office," she stated, "finds that bus services probably offer the greatest potential for saving fuel among urban transportation modes, that vanpools and carpools have an important contribution to make, and that new heavy rail systems are surprisingly ineffective."

The State of Hawaii, therefore, has an important role to play in supporting bus transit and assisting Oahu to develop modern bus rapid transit system. For starters, we think the State should:

  1. Support studies of the island's transit needs and how its existing road and bus system could be integrated into a modern, high quality, high capacity bus rapid transit system.

  2. Support engineering of State highways and freeways for HOV, contra-flow, bus-only lanes during peak hours, and of exclusive busways, to implement such a system.

  3. Support limited construction of under- or over-passes and grade separations, as and when shown to be needed, to complete such a system.

  4. Help the City pay the 10% to 20% of the costs of developing such a system, which would be eligible for 80% to 90% Federal financing under new Federal transportation legislation adopted in 1992.

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