It's been a week since I responded to you and am still awaiting your answer to my letter. Please, for the financial well being of Oahu's future generations, provide your rationale for choosing Rail or hopefully, your decision to change your mind to favor separate elevated Express Busways (HOT at $900 million) to solve West Oahu's traffic congestion.
Ben Ramelb P.E.
----- Original Message -----
From: Ben Ramelb
To: Mayor Hannemann
Cc: Panos Prevedouros ; Jerry Coffee ; Malia Zimmerman ; Todd Apo ; Romy Cachola ; Donovan Dela Cruz ; Gary Okino ; Charles Djou ; Barbara Marshall ; Ann Kobayashi ; Sean Hao ; Advertiser ; Glen Wakai ; Governor Lingle ; Leslie Tanaka CPA ; Rep Rida Cabanilla ; Sen Hanabusa ; Sen Norman Sakamoto ; SEn Willie Espero ; Senator Kalani English ; Senator Ron Menor ; State Highways Dept ; Starbulletin ; Dennis Callan ; Mike Uechi
Sent: Tuesday, July 01, 2008 9:06 AM
Subject: Oahu Mass Transit System
Mayor Mufi Hanemann,
Thank you for responding to discuss a subject which is the most ambitious and most expensive project in the history of Honolulu. The project is so huge that it will affect our children for several generations.
Being a Registered Civil Engineer and a Professional Master Planner for over 20 years, I have read and understand your email to me as well as the information provided by your staff and your rail consultants over the past two years. My major concern is that you have not adhered to the single and most important reason for building mass transit: To provide TRAFFIC RELIEF during peak hour. The city has stated that rail transit will not provide traffic relief.
Therefore rail should NOT be considered as a candidate for Oahu mass transit because it does not accomplish the “MISSION” of mass transit. ALL other reasons for building rail transit are secondary and do NOT justify spending at least $6.0 Billion of taxpayers dollars. Secondly, why are the pro-rail folks afraid of the people voting? The people are, after all, the ones who will be paying for the mass transit system.
I have read the City's Alternative Analysis and UH Professor Panos Prevedouros Study "Transportation Alternative Analysis for Mitigating Traffic Congestion between Leeward Oahu and Honolulu." The HOT Lanes outlined in the Professor’s study will provide a separate express highway to bypass the known traffic bottlenecks at Pearl City and at Middle Street and will reduce H-1 congestion by 35 percent. HOT will cost of less than $900 Million (Tampa built a similar 10 mile three-lane HOT for $320 million in 2005.
HOT Lanes allows the commuter to get on morning express buses from each of the 14 to 18 communities in Central and West Oahu and travel non-stop on the separate, elevated HOT starting in Pearl City to his/her destination at Pearl Harbor,/Hickam, Airport, Kalihi, Downtown Honolulu and beyond to U.H. Manoa or Ala Moana or Waikiki with zero or one transfer. HOT will: reduce traffic congestion on H-1 and in downtown, convert more commuters from cars to express buses because of convenience and high gas cost, and minimize downtown parking problems.
HOT is not a case of rail versus cars as you and your administration think, but rather, a comparison between rail and HOT and/or Express Buses. Van pools and car pools. Single occupant vehicles are allowed only on a space available basis and with a variable toll.
HOT lanes are the current trend on the mainland to provide traffic congestion relief. Recently, the U.S. DOT approved $589 Million in Private Activity Bonds to Fund I-495 Congestion-Relief Project in Northern Virginia.
The Rail cost is about $6.0 Billion over 15 years to complete the rail system and $900 million for the HOT. I have briefed many four star Flag Officers and it is my strong belief that given the failure of Rail to accomplish the "Mission", these executives would choose HOT Lanes as the recommended Mass Transit System for Oahu.
If jobs are needed to support Oahu’s slumping economy, I believe that as mayor, you should address the multibillion-dollar City of Honolulu infrastructure deficiencies (sewer, solid waste, water, bypass roads, traffic congestion ) that affect the island's public health and well being. Rail does not solve any of Honolulu's problems but it steals its entire budget for solving the island's real problems.
As an Engineer and taxpayer, I strongly recommend that you reconsider your position and accept HOT Lanes for implementation for Oahu and remove rail from consideration at this time.
Ben Ramelb P. E.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mayor Mufi Hannemann
To: Ben Ramelb
Sent: Monday, June 30, 2008 1:33 PM
Subject: RE: Rail Transit - Myths and Facts
Dear Mr. Ramelb:
I have been reading your anti-rail letters to the editor in the newspapers for some time, so your email of June 6 was, in some ways, expected. I expected you to oppose rail. I expected you to masquerade opinions as facts. I expected that you would not propose solutions to the crippling problem of traffic on our island.
Let me state this simply and factually: every major city in the U.S. has found great success with rail. It is giving people the option to travel quickly and efficiently without spending their hard-earned money at the gas pump, and with skyrocketing gas prices we can expect that to continue; ridership has increased by 15 percent in Seattle this year, 8 percent in Denver, 11.3 percent in Portland, 5 percent in New York City, one of the pioneers in commuter technology, and 13 percent in Miami, where presidential candidate Barack Obama said he supports the rail project.
For the environment, rail reduces the amount of airborne pollution and greenhouse gases by eliminating thousands of emissions from thousands of cars each day. Rail uses less energy, allowing our island to reduce the amount of imported oil; the U.S. Department of Energy's studies show rail uses 27 percent less energy than cars and trucks per passenger mile.
Rail is a solution. Misleading "fact sheets" are not.
From: Ben Ramelb [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 9:47 AM
To: Apo, Todd K; Tam, Rod; Garcia, Nestor; Okino, Gary; DelaCruz, David A; Djou, Charles; Kobayashi, Ann H.; Cachola, Romy; Marshall, Barbara
Cc: Rep Cal Say; Sen Hanabusa; Rep Rida Cabanilla; Governor Lingle; Mayor Mufi Hannemann
Subject: Rail Transit - Myths and Facts
To Chair Barbara Marshall,
Mass Transit Rail Myths and Facts are provided for your information. I have outlined some of the myths on Rail below. You can view the complete document via the link.
Salt Lake Resident
Myths & Facts about Rail Transit
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - View as HTML
light-rail line under construction or in planning stages today costs. $25 million per mile ($50 million per mile in both directions).Heavy. rail costs more ...
www.americandreamcoalition.org/ADCFS1.pdf - Similar pages
Rail capacity Myth : A single rail line can carry as many people as an 8-lane freeway.
The Reality: No rail system outside of New York City carries as many people as one freeway lane. Outside of New York, the most heavily used heavy-rail lines carry less than two-thirds of a freeway lane.
The congestion myth: Rail transit can greatly reduce congestion.
The Reality: Outside of New York and few other cities, rail transit carries too few people to noticeably reduce congestion.
The rush-hour myth: Rail transit can cost effectively reduce rush-hour congestion.
The Reality: While a few rail transit lines may have a marginal effect on rush hour congestion, the cost is exorbitant.
The operating cost myth: Rails cost less to operate than buses.
The Reality: Almost all rail transit systems cost more to operate than buses running on routes in comparable corridors.
The speed myth: Rail Transit is fast.
The Reality: Rail transit speeds rarely compete with autos. Express buses can go faster than most rail transit.
The Eternity myth: Pay no attention to the high construction costs because once rail lines are built, they will last forever.
The Reality: Rail lines must be rebuilt and equipment replaced every twenty to thirty years. Reconstruction often costs as much as the original construction.
The Under budget myth: Most rail lines are built under budget and carry more riders than anticipated.
The Reality: U.S. Rail transit construction has gone an average of 41 percent over budget.
The Redevelopment Myth: Rail transit leads to economic development.
The Reality: Rail transit rarely generates any additional development.
The Choice Myth: rail transit gives people choices.
The Reality: Government officials should be more concerned about spending taxpayer dollars wisely than giving people needlessly expensive choices.