Offering cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion in Honolulu

November 14, 2007.

Residents believe traffic actions on wrong track:

The quarterly Pulse Survey by the Business Roundtable and the Pacific Resource Partnership finds that our residents believe that we are on the wrong track in dealing with traffic problems by a margin of 74-18 percent. This is an extraordinarily high number for such a poll. This is even greater than the disapproval rating for Congress. The survey also says, "To the surprise of many, unaided responses focused on the ability of families to continue to live here, good jobs that would keep their children here, and maintaining the unique Island lifestyle." Why the Pulse Survey should find that surprising is in itself surprising; it has been a major complaint of small business and other lower-tax proponents that the continued tax increase burdens placed on local residents are making living here unsustainable. The rail tax increase already in place with more rail taxes to come is one of the major threats to local folks and their families being able to continue living in Hawaii. READ MORE

A review of recent polls of voters regarding rail transit and/or highways.

For polls to have any validity, they must first determine whether they are getting an informed opinion because, sooner or later, the uninformed voter will become informed and change their preferences.

At the risk of over simplification, here are two poll questions:

Q: How would you like a new, sleek top of the line BMW?

A: I would love it.

Q: How would you like a new, sleek top of the line BMW with payments of $1,000 a month?

A: No, thanks.

Unless we are polling informed voters, the poll is a waste of time — unless you wish to deliberately deceive people. Voters need to know that the HOT lanes option (reversible highways) does not require a tax increase and would enable motorists paying a toll to travel on an uncongested highway at 55 mph. The rail transit option would need a $450 per family annual tax increase and that most riders would have to travel using bus/rail/bus to get to their destination, and that the rail cars will only average 22.5 mph. Now, you can poll the voters.

So far there have been no polls that could remotely be called unbiased.

March 25, 2006.

OMPO survey shows great public support for HOT lanes:.

OMPO has just release the results of a federally funded telephone survey of a random sample of 400 Oahu residents on transportation issues. All questions were designed by OMPO and its consultant team in consultation with Ward Research.

Among the more interesting questions asked were:

  • Q4a. Would you support construction of an elevated high-occupancy highway for carpools, vanpools, and buses from ‘Ewa to downtown along parts of Kamehameha Highway and H-1?
              Overall 69% for v. 25% opposed. Among Ewa/Leeward residents, 78% for.
  • Q4b. If such a project were constructed, would you support making it a high-occupancy toll facility, called a HOT facility?  This facility would allow solo drivers to use it if they pay a toll and if the lanes are not fully utilized by high-occupancy vehicles.
              Overall 67% for v. 28% opposed. Among Ewa/Leeward residents, 73% for.
  • Q4c. Would you support construction of such a project if the tolls generated were not sufficient to cover the cost and it would require increased taxes?
              Overall 29% for v. 66% opposed.
  • Q4e. What is the most you would pay to use HOT lanes if it would save you 15 minutes in travel time? Would you pay...?
              Overall 8% would pay $4 or more, Among Leeward/Ewa residents 20%.

This is a far less biased survey than the one OMPO took in November 2004. However, as we said then, the voters are generally unaware of the costs or benefits of the principal alternatives — rail transit or HOT lanes. Therefore, questions about taxes that do not quantify the tax impact on taxpayers, or the congestion benefits/disbenefits, cannot elicit accurate responses. Second, specifying 15 minutes as the time savings for HOT lanes is unrealistic; it is likely to be more like 30 minutes, or greater, during the rush hour.

An interesting general result of the survey is that it shows great public support for new highway facilities, such as HOT lanes and widening highways, particularly H-1 from Pearl City to Kahala. There is no support for bikeways. Clearly, our elected officials are out of sync with their constituents because the officials keep opting for bikeways and rejecting building highways whereas the voters think exactly the opposite.  READ MORE  

June 9, 2005

San Diego shows the way:

A recent study by SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments, shows how professionals go about polling stakeholders in their transportation planning. It is quite instructive to compare this with the amateurish, slanted polls that we get. 

It also shows how popular HOT lanes are in the San Diego area across income groups because it gives people choices about being on time for appointments, picking up children from day care, etc. THE WHOLE STUDY    EXCERPT ON TOLLS


May 13, 2005
The People's Pulse poll is being used to justify rail:
Of late the Chamber of Commerce has been quoting the People's Pulse (Winter '05) poll as justifying the people's preference for rail transit.  Respondents to the poll were given four options, "Moving jobs to where residents live," "Developing a ferry system," "Expanding bus transit," and "Developing fixed rail mass transit." On Oahu, "moving jobs" scored most and "rail" was second.
First, of the four options respondents were given, none included improving highways. Second, none mentioned cost. Third, there was no information about the options given to respondents such as route, type of vehicles, ticket cost, etc.
In short, a poll such as this is worthless; we are surprised that Omnitrak would tarnish their reputation with it.

February 19, 2005. 

Update on the OMPO rail tax survey:
Since officials have been touting the public approval of the rail tax, we decided to take another look at it. The poll was taken in September before the BRT began service; 70 percent of those polled thought that BRT would be an improvement. Wonder what they would think today.  READ MORE

February 9, 2005.
Advertiser: "Rail tax could cost a family $900 more."
Today's Advertiser headline is for a story by Mike Leidemann and said that sentiment in an informal poll was running 10 to 1 opposed to a tax hike.