May 18, 1990 The proposed fixed guideway rail system's high costs are not justified by the almost meaningless reduction in traffic that it can be expected to bring. Giving drivers incentives to take The Bus or to car pool; giving them disincentives to use their cars; making better, more efficient use of buses; and providing additional buses will reduce traffic congestion by a comparable (or higher) degree-and will do it in a manner that is far less costly and disruptive, more socially equitable, and more quickly realized.
If needs, technology, or demography change, rail may be reconsidered and judged appropriate at some future date. For now, however, for the reasons cited above, the League of Women Voters of Honolulu views the proposed rail system with disfavor.
Amplification of Position:
Automobile Traffic and Highways
Honolulu has a peak-hour traffic problem. It can be expected to grow worse, although to some extent, gridlock is a self-limiting problem. That is, once it happens, people will be induced to turn to alternative means of commuting, and when they do, this will alleviate traffic somewhat.
Much of the problem stems from having too many cars carrying just one passenger. Drivers continue to see the costs of commuting in their own cars as being balanced by the benefits in time and convenience.
Other elements contributing to the congestion are too few buses; infrequent bus service; lax enforcement of bans on peak-hour parking on heavily trafficked streets; and subsidized parking for employees in both the private and public sectors.
Approaches to dealing with some of these problems include: helping traffic flow by constructing viaducts at key intersections; developing park-and-ride lots along bus lines; encouraging owners of parking lots that are used little during the work week to rent out parking spaces to commuters, who could then bus the remainder of the distance into the central city area; making more extensive use of high-occupancy vehicle lanes and contra-flow traffic patterns; and eliminating all free parking. Also, employers should be encouraged to give workers flexible hours and to decentralize their operation, perhaps through the use of telecommunication centers
Today options for commuters are limited to basically two: private cars (single-occupancy or car pools) or The Bus. The private market could be encouraged to give commuters a wider range of choices. Guaranteed-seat vans, providing door-to-door service on a subscription basis, might encourage more people to get out of their cars. Scheduling and timing of bus runs must be improved as a means of encouraging ridership during peak traffic periods.