Publications and Reports


The May 1, 2009 Financial Report for the Honolulu Rail Project.


Randal O'Toole's "Designed to Fail" is a must read:

This is an article that you need to read for more ammunition. Here are the first three paragraphs; after that he really gets in gear:

"Are American cities competing to see which can come up with the most ridiculous transit proposals? If so, Honolulu will probably win, hands down. The nation’s 52nd-largest urban area has only about 950,000 people, yet it is spending $5.3 billion, or more than $5,500 per resident, to build a single 20-mile rail line. That’s probably a greater cost per person than any rail system ever built–and it is just for one line, not a complete system.

"The line will be entirely elevated, yet they plan to run just two-car trains, each “train” being about the length of a typical light-rail car (just under 100 feet). This means it will have the high costs of heavy rail and the capacity limits of light rail.

"One of the many deceptive claims about the project is that it is “high-capacity transit.” In fact, the two-car trains were planned to have only 64 seats. The city says it will ask the railcar builder to increase this to 76 seats, a change order that will no doubt add to the cost. As the Antiplanner’s colleague, Wendell Cox, says, “the number of seats is the least of their problems."


Roth, Heen & Slater letter to the Federal Transit Administration:

Professor Randal Roth, Judge Walter Heen and businessman Cliff Slater sent a letter to the FTA enumerating the problems facing the rail project, not the least of which is lack of public support. They conclude with the following two paragraphs:

"Finally, we have concerns about the FTA's role in all this. For example, we wonder if you realize that City officials and HART board members, when pressed on the wisdom of continuing to spend hundreds of millions on construction that will probably be torn down in the not-too-distance future, regularly point to your agency. They say or imply that the FTA would put a stop to what they are doing if their decisionmaking and numbers were not rock solid. They claim to be doing absolutely everything, "by the book," and for that reason to have the FTA's blessing.

"We also wonder about the FTA's amazingly quick reaction to Gov. Cayetano's release of emails in which FTA personnel express concern about various aspects of the rail project. Ignoring for now the question of whether the FTA should allow itself to get sucked in to a political campaign, we were troubled by the following statement in the FTA's press release: "The Federal Transit Administration believes that this project will bring much needed relief from the suffocating congestion on the H-l Freeway." We believe that this is inconsistent with the FTA's earlier judgment as expressed in its Record of Decision for the Project, in which it wrote, "Many commenters [on the Draft EIS] reiterated their concern that the Project will not relieve highway congestion in Honolulu. FTA agrees, but the purpose of the Project is to provide an alternative to the use of congested highways for many travelers. It is also inconsistent with the FTA approved Final EIS in which the City wrote, "You are correct in pointing out that traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail, and that is supported by data included in the Final EIS."


The Greatest Lie of All:

The City never told the truth about traffic congestion reduction. They always tried to imply that “relief” was on the way. It was why, in the 2008 Advertiser poll, 73 percent of those polled said they supported rail because they believed that it would reduce the commute on H-1. No rationale person believed that we would spend over $5 billion and have traffic congestion worse than today.

In fact, when we said, "The city admits future traffic congestion will be worse with rail than it is today.” Yoshioka’s response was to accuse us, in writing, of lying (all on Olelo) and adding, “This is a cleverly crafted statement that knowingly uses only part of the information available. The Alternatives Analysis shows that a fixed guideway will reduce future traffic congestion between Kapolei and Honolulu by 11 percent.”

To which we responded, “This is pure spin. He is not denying that traffic congestion will be worse than today only that rail will reduce congestion by 11 percent from what it would be without rail.”

Now contrast all that with Yoshioka’s statement in the Final EIS, “… traffic congestion will be worse in the future with rail than what it is today without rail …”

But the biggest lie of all is that when you read the rationale for building rail, what they call the Purpose and Need statement in the Final EIS, you find that the City never had any intention of reducing traffic congestion below today's unbearable levels.

Click here for a pdf version with all the sources of information that you can forward to your friends.


Project Management Oversight Contractor's Report now online:

About a month ago we received the PMOC Report of October 2011 in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request we had made to FTA about risk assessments for the rail project. It has taken this long to find the time to scan it accurately but we have done it and it is now online.


A listing of all local mainstream media headlines on rail since 2003:

Walt & Arla Harvey, East Oahu realtors we have known for years, have been quietly maintaining a searchable list of all the articles about the rail project since its inception in October 2003. This is a huge and highly useful resource for researchers. For example, we searched it and found that there is not a single headline concerning future traffic congestion in the list by any of the mainstream media in the 8.5 years of headlines listed. Go ahead and search it.

Another example is a column we wrote in 2005 titled "Transit: What is happening elsewhere?", which is as useful today as the day it was written; we had totally forgotten about it.


Study result: Lower income workers do not appear to rely on transit:

Wendell Cox, of Demographia, has just published a study of transit commuting across income groups. He finds a surprising result. Here are a few paragraphs:

"Of course, there is no question but that lower income citizens are disadvantaged with respect to just about everything economic. However, there are few ways in which lower income citizens are more disadvantaged than in their practical access to work and to amenities by means of transit, walking and cycling. Indeed, the impression that lower income citizens rely on transit to a significantly greater degree than everyone else is just that – an impression.

"Perhaps most surprising is the fact that only 9.6% of lower income citizens used transit to get to work. This is not very much higher than the 7.9% of all workers in the metropolitan areas who use transit."


HART Financial Plan for the FFGA application

Here's the link to HART's June 2012 Financial Plan for the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) application.

You will notice that the amount of bus funds they are using was reduced to $214 million from $244 million. That is an amount that will still come out of the City's General Fund.  Also note that the operating subsidy for transit has been increased by $600 million over the next 18 years to a total of $6 billion dollars.


Honolulu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Project Evaluation Final Report.


New report says the transit selection process biased in favor of rail:

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy's (ITDP) mission "is to work with cities worldwide to bring about transport solutions that cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of urban life. "

In a new report, it says that the transit selection process is rigged in favor of less effective rail projects and seriously biased against bus and road. The report "Recapturing Global Leadership in Bus Rapid Transit: a Survey of Select US Cities" is written by Annie Weinstock, Michael Replogle and Ramon Cruz. Replogle at least has been a vocal opponent of roads and a transit supporter, employed for years at the Environmental Defense Fund. The ITDP report has an Introduction by longtime transit enthusiast Congressman Earl Blumenauer, Democrat-Oregon.


"Survival of the unfittest: why the worst infrastructure gets built":

This is an article by Bent Flyvbjerg, the Oxford University researcher who has spent a lifetime studying international infrastructure projects. He finds great similarities among all countries. It was published in the Oxford Review of Economic Policy.

This 24-page article is not a hard read unless you are extremely numerically challenged. Here are two paragraphs from his conclusion:

"This article documents a much neglected topic in economics, namely the fact that ex ante [projected] estimates of ventures’ costs and benefits are often very different from actual ex post [as built] costs and benefits. The article shows that such differences between estimated and actual outcomes are pronounced for large infrastructure projects, where substantial cost underestimates often combine with equally significant benefit overestimates, rendering cost–benefit analyses of projects not only inaccurate but biased.

"The cause of biased cost–benefit analyses is found to be perverse incentives that encourage promoters of infrastructure projects to underestimate costs and overestimate benefits in the business cases for their projects in order to gain approval and funding. But the projects that are artificially made to look best in business cases are the projects that generate the highest cost overruns and benefit shortfalls in reality, resulting in a significant trend for ‘survival of the unfittest’ for infrastructure projects."

You will find from his work that the kind of shenanigans going on with the Honolulu rail project corresponds to similar activities around the world.


Journey to Work Trends in the United States and its Major Metropolitan Areas, 1960-2000. Publication No. FHWA–EP-03-058. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. for transit’s market share in various metro areas, 1980-2000.  One of the key issues about the Honolulu rail project is the City's projection, approved by the FTA, that the rail project will result in an increase of transit's share of trips from the current 6.0 percent to 7.4 percent by 2030. That might not seem like very much of an increase for a several billion dollar outlay plus the annual operating losses. However, if we review the past market shares for transit in various metro areas, 1980-2000, in this publication, we.find that no metro area that built rail in this 20 year period succeeded in getting any increase at all.  This should give ordinary mortails pause; it has absolutely no impact on eight out of ten politicians and zero transit officials.


The Porter Report: Financial Capacity Assessment of the City and County of Honolulu for the Honolulu High Capacity Transit Corridor Project PREPARED FOR THE FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION by Porter & Associates. Inc. under subcontract to Milligan & Company. LLC Contract No. DTFT60-08-D-D0008 January 25, 2012. Final Report (reissued) Based on September 2011 Financial Plan. * This is a realistic appraisal of the City's financial plans, if somewhat too positive about the rail project's prospects. However, you will read some excerpts such as, "At this time, there is no additional capacity in the Project financing plan to fund Project cost increases or to mitigate other adverse events. Cash balances are minimal and debt service coverage is low." Or another, "The City provides highly-utilized transit services, but experienced high growth in locally-funded subsidies (10.9 percent annually, 2005-2010), and has not kept up with fleet replacement needs, indicated by an average bus fleet age of 10.2 years."


Randal O'Toole's "Designed to Fail" is a must read for more ammunition.


PMOC Risks and Contingency Report of October 2011, with Risk Register.


BRT Refined Locally Preferred Alternative Cash Flow sheets This is a four page set 11" x 17" page size.


A searchable version of the 2003 Final EIS for the BRT Project


In an article titled "Sunk Costs: There's no crying over spilt milk," Steven Horwitz discusses in Freeman Magazine the situation we are likely to find ourselves in with rail in a few months 


Listing of all HART contractors and their subcontractors together with contract amounts.


The IMG Report commissioned by Governor Lingle: the full report


December 1, 2010.  "The probability of rail transit coming in on budget."


Bad news for the elevated railway — commuters declining:

The Final  EIS tells us that for Oahu in the year 2030 there is a "projected population of 1,117,200" (FEIS, p. 1-6). However when we go to the latest Hawaii State population forecast for Oahu in 2030 we find a forecast that is 1,017,565 — that's 100,000 less.

Worse yet, when we examine the data by age group and separate out the 20 to 64 year olds who will be our commuters in 2030, we find there will be fewer of them compared to today. This contrasts markedly with the City and FTA Final EIS projection that there will be 21 percent more "trips to and from work" by 2030 (FEIS, Table 3-11).

The significance of these data is two-fold. First, the City has not updated the Final EIS to reflect the State's reduction in population growth data. Second, we can find no use in the Final EIS of age data. Given that all the growth is in people of school age and those likely to be retired, it is evident that the current ridership projections are highly overstated.



Article on the City's avoidance of saying the traffic congestion with rail will be worse in the future than it is today.


Details of wrong use of population data:

However, you cannot go to the Final EIS or the ORTP to check on population data because it isn't there. They slice and dice it and talk about segments of the Oahu population but never the total. But we dug deeper into the matter and found the City forecast in an obscure City technical report titled Travel Forecasting Results and Uncertainties. Table 2-5 shows that the City is forecasting Oahu's population in 2030 as 1,117,322, a 22 percent increase over 2005. However, the State has been lowering its forecasts (see Appendix Tables in Excel, Table A-4) in the light of experience and since mid-2009 has been forecasting a population of 1,017,565 for 2030, about 100,000 less than the City forecast.

Just as interesting are the forecast growth rates by age group on the same table. The only age group that shows any growth rate at all are those over 65. The others are flat to negative.

Are we building a commuter rail line for the only age group that does not commute?


In a letter from Deputy DTS Director Hamayasu to FTA’s James Ryan, Hamayasu acknowledges that the Federal Management Oversight Contractor requires an independent projection of the GE Tax revenues. Obviously, Parsons Brinckerhoff has hundreds of millions of future revenues riding on the project’s progress and cannot be objective in making this projection.


MTC shocker — "Bay Area transit not sustainable":

The San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) recently published their 2009 Annual Report. The Commission was created by the California State Legislature in 1970, and is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing agency for the entire nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

Here are some excerpts from the 2009 Annual Report:

“Even before the worst shocks of the current crisis began to be felt the Commission reached a perhaps inevitable conclusion: “The current transit system is not sustainable ...

“For starters, we simply don’t have enough money to fund our Bay Area transit system — not just today, but in the future as well. The long-range regional transportation plan adopted by the Commission in April 2009, Transportation 2035: Change in Motion, forecasts a huge, $25 billion shortfall in transit funding between now and the year 2033 (see chart on page 8). On the operating side, our projections show a cumulative deficit of $8 billion, which is almost 10 percent of the overall operating costs of the system. The outlook is even worse on the capital side, where available revenues to replace worn-out vehicles and the like are expected to come in $17 billion shy of our projected needs, a deficit amounting to over 40 percent of the total needed. Looking at it another way, we will fall short of the resources our regional transit system needs by a cool $1 billion a year over the next quarter-century.”

They go on to say that the situation is not acceptable but their only concrete proposal to remedy it is to have a significant hike in taxes. They have already hiked fares, cut service levels and instituted user fees at many park and ride lots.

To put this in context with other transit lines, please remember that FTA Administrator Rogoff said Tuesday last (see May 22 below) that the nation's transit lines are, in total, $78 billion behind in bringing their systems up to a barely acceptable level of service.




"1.5. NEPA and Information Quality The [Council On Environmental Quality] (CEQ) regulations implementing [the National Environmental Policy Act] (NEPA) state that environmental information must be available to public officials and citizens before decisions are made and actions are taken. Additionally, the information must be of high quality because accuracy is essential to implementing NEPA."

"Additionally, the CEQ regulations state:

"Agencies are to ensure the professional integrity, including scientific integrity, of the discussions and analyses in environmental impact statements. They shall identify any methodologies used and shall make explicit reference by footnote to the scientific and other sources relied upon for conclusions in the statement. An agency may place discussion of methodology in an appendix. OMB’s “Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies” implementing the Information Quality Act further emphasize the need for high quality information in NEPA analyses and documents."  This is the latest FTA assessment of cost overruns. The Overview is as follows:

     “The Federal Transit Administrationhas conducted an analysis of the predicted and actual impacts of 21 recently opened major transit projects that have been constructed using funds under the New Starts program (49 USC 5309 et al). This report builds on a prior study by the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA – FTA’s previous name) in 1990 and a more recent effort that FTA completed in 2003 to analyze the projects that have opened for revenue service between 1990 and 2002.”

You will notice on page 10, Table3, that average cost overruns from PE entry to final cost was 40.2 percent, and from Final Design entry to final cost was 11.8 percent.  Despite what Director Yoshioka said during the meeting, most of these cost overruns occurred in the last ten years.

In a year earlier document the FTA commented as follows: “FTA has long been concerned about the reliability of the cost and ridership information used in the planning and project development process. The Department of Transportation’s 1990 report on this subject, several studies by Bent Flyvbjerg, and analyses by FTA have documented the fact that the majority of rail transit projects have significantly underestimated their construction costs and overestimated the actual ridership at the time those projects were chosen locally as the preferred alternatives, compared to the actual cost and ridership figures after the projects were constructed.” page 1-2. “Projects that fall within the ± 20 percent range were considered reliable.” FTA Comment , page 9 of the Appendix.


CONGESTION RELIEF ANALYSIS For the Central Puget Sound, Spokane & Vancouver Urban Areas Prepared by: Washington State Department of Transportation With the assistance of: Parsons Brinckerhoff Quade & Douglas, Inc. 

This most interesting report has PB saying that Transit will do little for congestion relief but that HOT lanes (aka Managed Lanes) will.


New UC Berkeley study rates vehicle energy use per passenger km:

A new study from researchers at UC-Berkeley looks at the total energy and emissions from various transportation modes taking into account all the energy used including construction and maintenance and occupancy. It is another explanation of why we cannot just assume that trains are more energy efficient than cars or vans or buses. As we have consistently pointed out in these pages, a train that is highly directional — full into town in the morning and out of town in the evening — and is fairly empty outside of rush hours is not very efficient.

On the other hand, those systems such as the New York and London subways, which carry heavy traffic in both directions, and at all hours, are highly efficient. It is another case of the devil being in the details.

The following is from a review of the study by Probe International:

"Taking the train to work is better for the environment than driving an SUV—right? Well, that depends.

"For example, if an SUV—one of the worst energy performers—is carrying two passengers, it suddenly becomes just as (in)efficient as a bus carrying eight people. If the car is carrying 3 or 4 passengers, then it’s actually BETTER than a low-occupancy bus. Or, a commuter train about 1/3 full emits as much NO as a bus with 13 passengers or a sedan with one.

"These are some of the findings from a recent study by researchers at the University of California. As part of the study, the researchers analyzed occupancy rates and the amount of emissions based on all factors—including construction, manufacturing, operation and maintenance—to determine the environmental impact of transportation.

"Typically, when politicians and advocacy groups examine the environmental effects of a particular mode of transportation they consider only operational emissions—known more commonly as tailpipe emissions. But this cuts out a number of other factors that should be considered when looking at the environmental impact on the various methods of transportation.

"While the CO2 emissions per person from an SUV are far greater than from trains and buses, they are even higher when the construction and maintenance of the highway, the manufacturing of the car and the mining of materials used to build the car are also included. But these factors also alter the emission levels when applied to train systems and airplanes."


U.S. Dept. of Transportation defines transportation subsidies by mode:

Somehow this study, Federal Subsidies to Passenger Transportation produced by the USDOT and the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics in 2004, has not surfaced before. But we are very grateful that it finally did as it is most important.

It is fascinating in that it finally defines for us the subsidies per 1,000 passenger-miles for each mode and we find that automobiles and vans make a net contribution (a minus subsidy) and every other mode is subsidized.

This is totally the opposite of what we normally hear from the anti-automobile crowd.

While this table is produced by the Heritage Foundation it uses the exact same data from Table 3 in the study for 2002. The full study is linked above.

The Heritage review, Federal Transportation Programs Shortchange Motorists is also available.


date May 27, 2009.

We have just noticed that the Hawaii Department of Health now stores online all kinds of Environmental Impact Statements going back to the 1970s. Click here.

Below are the main transportation FEISs from the past which may be compared to the current Draft EIS available on our tab to the left, "NEPA process docs."  

FEIS 1982 Rail transit program

FEIS 1982 Rail transit program — Comments and Responses

FEIS 1992 Rail transit program
FEIS 1992 Rail transit program Appendix B
FEIS 1992 Rail transit program Appendix C. 


date May 11, 2009.

U.S. DOT finds the top 7 rail lines need $50 billion in repairs:

More than one-third of the trains, equipment and facilities of the nation's seven largest rail transit agencies are near the end of their useful life or past that point, the government says. Many have components that are defective or may be critically damaged.

A report by the Federal Transit Administration estimates it will cost $50 billion to bring the rail systems in Chicago, Boston, New York, New Jersey, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington DC, into good repair and $5.9 billion a year thereafter to maintain them. 

Those seven systems carry 80 percent of the nation's urban rail transit passengers, or more than 3 billion passenger trips a year. They also include some of the oldest subways and commuter railroads. Some of their facilities date back more than a century.

"In a period of rising congestion and fuel prices, these services and the infrastructure and rolling stock that support them, are critical to the transportation needs and quality of life of the communities they serve," the report said.

"At the same time, this infrastructure is aging and the level of reinvestment appears insufficient to address a growing backlog of deferred investment needs," the report said.

Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., one of 11 senators who requested the report, said older transit systems have received a declining share of federal rail transit aid as newer systems have come online. In 1993, the seven largest rail transit systems received 90 percent of federal modernization funds, compared with 70 percent today.

OUR COMMENT: Notice that Dick Durbin is requesting the report; he, and the other ten senators, will use it to press for a greater share of transit funds for the seven largest system and especially Chicago. It means there will be even more heated competition for the small amount of funds allocated to rail transit and that means less chance of Honolulu getting all of the $1.4 billion in rail funding that it is counting on for its financial plan.


A guide to’s comments on the Draft EIS

Our comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for rail transit was sent to Federal Transit Administration and the City and ran to 67 pages in seven parts. This guide briefly summarizes each of the seven parts and then links to each one.


Commuting in America III

Alan Pisarski's decennial publication analysing the latest results from each Census focused on the journey-to-work data.


2007 DOE Energy Data Book.

        The U.S. Department of Energy's Transportation Data Book is an essential reference for finding the energy use of various modes of travel.


Dale Evans: Rail rider safety not addressed in rail plans:

Rarely addressed is the issue of crime on rail transit especially in operator-less vehicles. For example, the British Columbia government survey of passenger attitudes found that SkyTrain riders were fare more worried about their personal safety than were Vancouver's bus riders.

Dale Evans, Chair of the Hawaii Highway Users Alliance and CEO of Charley's Taxi, has written an excellent op/ed on transit crime complete with footnoted sources. Read "Rider and Protection are not Addressed in Rail Plans.


Wachs: "When Planners Lie with Numbers":

Dr. Martin Wachs, Emeritus Professor of Urban Planning at UCLA and presently head of Rand Corporation's transportation practice, wrote, When Planners Lie with Numbers for the American Planning Association Journal in 1989. The article is only three pages and the following excerpts will hopefully whet your appetite for it:

"The most effective planner is sometimes the one who can cloak advocacy in the guise of scientific or technical rationality. Rather than stating that we favor a particular highway project or renewal program for ideological reasons or because our clients stand to gain more from that project than from alternatives, we adjust data and assumptions until we can say that the data clearly show that the preferred option is best."

"Our profession does little to discipline planners who fudge data or deliberately misrepresent the truth through technical manipulation of data or models. Such abuses arise because we live at a time when it is necessary to support one's position with facts and figures in order to be convincing. A professional judgment unsubstantiated by facts or modeling results is not as valid as one that is. Yet, in some situations the facts are not readily at hand, and the cost and time required for gathering them are prohibitive." (original emphasis)


Wachs: "Ethics and Advocacy in Forecasting for Public Policy":

Dr. Martin Wachs, whose "When Planners Lie with Numbers" was featured yesterday, also wrote in a similar vein for the Business and Professional Ethics Journal on, Ethics and Advocacy in Forecasting for Public Policy. To again try to entice you into reading the whole article, here are some excerpts:

"The complex mathematical models and large data bases characteristic of modern forecasts thus obfuscate the fact that they are all elaborations of relatively simple assumptions about the future, and they hide from the public the fact that the assumptions included in the forecast can be selected to help advocate certain courses of action for political purposes." pp. 149-50

"A forecaster might be in the employ of an engineering firm which received a small contract to estimate the need for a bridge. If the bridge is shown to be justified, additional consulting fees for design and engineering might produce much more income than that derived from preparing the forecast itself. If the bridge is shown to be unnecessary, no further contracts may be awarded. In such settings, it is obvious that forecasters are under pressure to adjust their predictions for self serving purposes." p. 153

"It is indeed difficult to withstand pressures to produce self serving forecasts which are cloaked in the guise of technical objectivity." p. 153.

In, Does Rail Transit Save Energy or Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions? Randal O’Toole writes:

"Far from protecting the environment, most rail transit lines use more energy per passenger mile, and many generate more greenhouse gases, than the average passenger automobile. Rail transit provides no guarantee that a city will save energy or meet greenhouse gas targets.

"While most rail transit uses less energy than buses, rail transit does not operate in a vacuum: transit agencies supplement it with extensive feeder bus operations. Those feeder buses tend to have low ridership, so they have high energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile. The result is that, when new rail transit lines open, the transit systems as a whole can end up consuming more energy, per passenger mile, than they did before.

"Even where rail transit operations save a little energy, the construction of rail transit lines consumes huge amounts of energy and emits large volumes of greenhouse gases. In most cases, many decades of energy savings would be needed to repay the energy cost of construction.

"Rail transit attempts to improve the environment by changing people's behavior so that they drive less. Such behavioral efforts have been far less successful than technical solutions to toxic air pollution and other environmental problems associated with automobiles."

It is well worth the time to read this study as it debunks the idea that rail transit in Honolulu will save energy and reduce gas emissions.

    OMPO says great public support for HOT lanes: 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

    Skytrain noise unacceptable said BC Ombudsman: The Ombudsman for British Columbia wrote three years after SkyTrain began running that, "The negative external effects of Skytrain currently include in some areas unacceptable noise levels, a harsh and forbidding presence, loss of privacy reduced property values and a depreciated enjoyment of individual and community lifestyle. The impact over time of these effects will include a gradual deterioration of the neighbourhoods with associated social and economic costs, a less desirable transportation system, and a loss of public regard for the Skytrain concept." The Ombudsman's 28-page report is on the BC government website and should be read in full READ MORE

    The Politics of Gridlock by Robert Atkinson, Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute. Some excerpts from this 14-page article together with a link to the publication.

    This links to a list of 21 publications dealing with errors in forecasting for rail transit projects.

    Federal Transit Administrations's Contractor Performance Assessment Report 2007. Reveals the extent of cost overruns in recently built transit systems through 2003.


    Listing of Managed Lanes now available:

    This listing officially called "U.S. Managed Lane Projects with Pricing Component" was produced by the Transportation Research Board's Joint Subcommittee on Managed Lanes and was accurate through February 2007. It lists seven existing projects, two under construction and 30 under development. We will maintain this list under both the "Publications" and "HOT lanes" tabs.  DOWNLOAD LIST


    On the social desirability of urban rail transit systems. Clifford Winston & Vikram Maheshri. Brookings Institution.  July 2006

    Abstract: Despite a decline in its mode share, investment to build new urban rail transit systems and extend old ones continues. We estimate the contribution of each U.S. urban rail operation to social welfare based on the demand for and cost of its service. We find that with the exception of BART in the San Francisco Bay area, every system actually reduces welfare and is unable to become socially desirable even with optimal pricing or physical restructuring of its network. We conclude rail’s social cost is unlikely to abate because it enjoys powerful political support from planners, civic boosters, and policymakers. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Why we use Census data rather than "boardings":

    We were recently asked why we use Census journey-to-work data rather than the "boardings" data typically used by transit agencies and certainly by rail proponents. It's quite simple. The "boardings" data can lead to large increases in apparent ridership when there may have been none. READ  MORE

  • The Dantata report: Northeastern University scholars presented a new study at this year’s Transportation Research Board’s Annual Conference. (Dantata, Nasiru A., Ali Touran & Donald C. Schneck. Trends in U.S. Rail Transit Project Cost Overrun. TRB Annual Meeting 2006). This study uses the Pickrell methodology to compare projected versus actual costs for post-1990 rail projects. They found that cost overruns in the 16 projects studied averaged 28.8 percent. This study has been criticized for not including some of the worst culprits that were over budget.
  • Parsons Brinckerhoff says transit won't cut it:
  •           Recently Washington State DOT released a Congestion Relief Analysis report prepared at the request of the Washington State legislature with a team led by Parsons Brinckerhoff.

             The report says that "transit expansion alone is not shown to be effective in reducing total delay." It goes on to say that, "[Congestion] pricing in the form of High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes is found to reduce corridor delay and make the corridor operate more efficiently. HOT lanes make corridor travel time more reliable, which benefits everyone, including occasional users."

             The Report is another nail in the coffin of the idea that transit of any kind can reduce traffic congestion. Obviously, the reports coming in from all over the country that no one reduces traffic congestion using rail transit has had an impact on US DOT and resulted in the new federal congestion policies spelled out below. READ  MORE

  • Excerpts from “An Evaluation of the Honolulu Rapid Transit Development Project's Alternative Analysis and Draft Environmental Impact Statement.” Hawaii Office of State Planning and University of Hawaii. May 1990. READ MORE  This very interesting study of the last attempt to build a Honolulu rail transit line was conducted by a number of academic transportation experts from Mainland universities. They detail the shortcomings of that plan. Things have not changed.
  •  "A Desire Named Streetcar: How Federal Subsidies Encourage Wasteful Local Transit Systems," by Randal O’Toole, also of the Thoreau Institute, gives an historical overview of "how federal subsidies have encouraged wasteful local transit systems." He says, "To pay for high-cost suburban rail transit routes, transit agencies often raise fares or cut back on services to inner-city areas. The result is that taxpayers often end up paying heavy subsidies for projects that reduce overall transit ridership and often harm transit-dependent families." READ MORE

O'Toole: "Debunking Portland — the city that doesn't work":

If you have any tendency to believe the planners' hype about Portland's light rail and Transit Oriented Developments (TODs), you should visit Portland with O'Toole's latest Cato study in hand. For example, fewer people use transit in Portland today than did before Portland started its billions of dollars of rail binge.  READ MORE

  • The University of Aalborg in Denmark has just finished a 58 nation study of public transportation ridership forecasts, which is published this month in Transport Reviews . It " presents results from the first statistically significant study of traffic forecasts in transportation infrastructure projects. The sample used is the largest of its kind, covering 210 projects in 14 nations worth US$58 billion ... Forecasts have not become more accurate over the 30-year period studied ... For nine out of ten rail projects, passenger forecasts are overestimated; average overestimation is 106% ... Highly inaccurate traffic forecasts … translate into large financial and economic risks. But such risks are typically ignored or downplayed by planners and decision-makers, to the detriment of social and economic welfare." READ MORE
  • Our comments on the city's Scoping Meeting held December 13/14, 2005. COMMENTS
  • Underestimating Costs in Public Works Projects Error or Lie?By Bent Flyvbjerg, Mette Skamris Holm, and Søren Buhl.
    "Based on a sample of 258 transportation infrastructure projects worth US$90 billion and representing different project types, geographical regions, and historical periods, it is found with overwhelming statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading. Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying. The policy implications are clear: legislators, administrators, investors, media representatives, and members of the public who value honest numbers should not trust cost estimates and cost-benefit analyses produced by project promoters and their analysts.""
  • TRIP's study, "Paying the Price for Inadequate Roads in Hawaii: The Cost to Motorists in Reduced Safety, Lost Time and Increased Vehicle Wear," found that Hawaii's major roads and its bridges have significant deficiencies. In addition, 125 people, on average, die each year in motor vehicle accidents statewide. READ MORE
  • City's Rail Development Schedule.
  • BART's 2004 Annual Report
  • American Planning Association Journal spells out how and why transit planners lie about projections. FULL STUDY
  • TRIP, a national transportation nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., "Paying the Price for Inadequate Roads in Hawaii: The Cost to Motorists in Reduced Safety, Lost Time and Increased Vehicle Wear," READ MORE
  • The Campaign Spending Commission added up the contributions given to former Mayor Harris's campaign by the consultants that produced the BRT Final Environmental Impact Statement and it came to exactly $435,400. SEE DETAILS
  • Sir Peter Hall, author of Cities of Tomorrow and Cities and Civilization and a world authority on the development of great cities, tells us that great cities were, and are, "economic leaders, cities at the heart of vast trading empires, places in frenzied transition, magnets for talented people seeking fame and fortune. Outsiders made these places what they were: Athens's version of green-card holders, the noncitizen Metics; the Jews in 1900 Vienna; foreign artists in Paris around the same time." Ah, don't we wish. READ MORE
  • HOT lanes are Lexus lanes and for the rich. Answer: Surprisingly, low-income drivers support "Lexus lanes." Read the Federal Highways Department's (FHWA) studies of this issue. READ MORE
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) shows that Honolulu has the fewest 'Miles of Roadway Per Person' than any of the 401 Urbanized Areas that the FHWA tracks, which is basically anywhere with a population greater than 50,000. Only Honolulu has just 1.5 miles of road per 1,000 persons. See FHWA rankings
  • The Progressive Policy Institute, proponents of the ‘third way,’ have just released a 14-page critique of: “the congestion coalition (a small, but extremely influential anti-highway, anti-car, and anti-suburban coalition) has changed the focus of transportation policy from one expanding supply to one of restraining demand and getting people out of cars.” It also says, “Progressives should define congestion as a problem of inadequate infrastructure. They should support an array of policies designed to give Americans the world-class transportation infrastructures they deserve, including public transit, biking and walking trails, and expanded and less congested roads.” Here are some excerpts from "Politics of Gridlock"
  • Rail's operating subsidy $52 million annually:
    That was the City's estimate from the 1992 plan. READ MORE  
  • We also said that, like the Emperor in the fable, this train has no clothes. The original story has elected officials totally persuaded that the con men's new cloth "had the strange quality of being invisible to anyone who was unfit for his office or unforgivably stupid.” In other words, if you can’t see that trains will reduce traffic congestion, you are unfit for office. Thus, predictably, the bill passed. READ THE STORY
  • Public Roads Magazine discusses "Managed Lanes":
    The November/December issue of the FHWA's bi-monthly magazine had a great article, "Managed Lanes:
    Combining access control, vehicle eligibility, and pricing strategies can help mitigate congestion and improve mobility on the Nation's busiest roadways."  READ THE ARTICLE.
  • The New York Times favors automobiles? The Times, which normally prints only all the news that fits, prints a long piece in favor of the automobile and points out the fallacies of trying to solve congestion problems with public transportation. Astonishing! Read it. FULL STORY
  • Nationally recognized transportation consultant, Wendell Cox writes, "Where rail transit works, and why."
  • August 3, 2003. Privatization study ignored. We are shocked — absolutely shocked — that the City failed to disclose the 30-40 percent potential savings from privatization that PB Consult had provided it as part of the new FEIS
  • Final Environmental Impact Statement, For BRT date August 2003.
  • October 7, 2003.  It's 12th anniversary of the publication of "The Sensible Transit Alternative," which was our suggestion at the time for alternatives to the rail transit proposal being offered then. It included modifying the center of H-1 for HOV lanes (we're getting there), studying a reversible highway between downtown and Waikele (we're looking at it now), supplementing TheBus during rush hour with private sector alternatives to increase ridership and reduce bus subsidies (one of these days). We still believe that such options are the best way to reduce traffic congestion. Download "The Sensible Transit Alternative." (Note: very large 16 meg file; allow a 5 minute download on cable and it needs Acrobat Reader)
  • Professor Prevedouros has given us an overview of congestion nationally in,   "Thoughts and Facts on Traffic Congestion and Fixed Mass Transit," and it is essential reading.