April 1995 Home   Newsletters

May 1995

June-July 1995

President's Message: League Lobbies Legislature (Suzanne Meisenzahl)
League Action at the Legislature (Jean Aoki)
Violence Prevention and Education Bill Dies (Pamela Ferguson-Brey & Martha Ross)
Convention Delegates Sought
Restructuring Committee Put on Hold (Jean Aoki)
Letters: Queen's Beach (Jean Aoki & Astrid Monson)
League Reviews Oahu Regional Transportation Plan (Arlene Ellis)
Action Alert
Vote Count Volunteers Needed (Arlene Ellis)

League Reviews Oahu Regional Transportation Plan

We have reviewed the plan in light of our consistent recommendation that we move ahead in the development of an integrated bus rapid transit system on an island-wide basis as soon as possible. We added up the projected costs of the draft plan to get a broad picture of how much was being allocated to each of the plan's major elements.

From our summary, we're struck by the fact that, outside of new bus purchases, the emphasis remains on improving the facilities catering to the automobile. Though we welcome the inclusion of expenditures for HOV lanes, it is significant that these are listed as Traffic Demand Management (TDM) measures, rather than under transit. We understand that HOV lanes as TDM measures will be designed primarily to encourage people to car-pool, thus reducing the number of vehicles in the HOV lanes. However, since this should also reduce traffic in non-HOV lanes, we foresee that this, in turn, will attract additional single-occupancy traffic there.

If, instead, HOV lanes were chosen and designed to be a part of a long-range bus rapid transit plan, they would be bringing us soon to the point where we would be moving more people on our roads rather than more vehicles. There is not much point in spending $920 million for additional buses unless as a matter of policy they are given first priority over other traffic. In other cities, when buses are given exclusive lanes, busways, transitways, and other measures designed specifically for bus rapid transit, they can achieve speeds, capacities, accessibility, reliability, and other service levels that match or even exceed those promised by rail, and do so at far lower costs.

In summary, we do not think that hundreds or even thousands of more buses are the answer. We do not think that development of a number of unconnected HOV lanes is the answer. We do not think that more buses and more HOV lanes should be considered as a stop-gap for a rail system. We do think we should plan for an integrated island-wide bus rapid transit system and incorporate all specific measures we take into it.

We think that for an island whose population will not exceed much over 1,500,000 by the year 2050, such a plan could start with better use of present facilities and then systematically and incrementally add HOV lanes and busways designed to bring buses downtown and to other major employment centers, rather than just eliminating automobile bottlenecks to speedup traffic.

It is possible that many of the elements in the draft Oahu Regional Transportation Plan can be worked into such an island-wide bus transit system. We hope so. If not, it is time we formulated a longrange transportation plan that doesn't implicitly or explicitly depend on building an outmoded rail system as its main element. We have been doing this long enough.

Arlene Ellis
Transportation Committee Chair

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