Kirk Caldwell Questions Ben Cayetano BRT


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Kirk Caldwell Questions Ben Cayetano BRT

  1. 1. Media Contact:Matt RobertsonOlomana Loomis ISC(207) 415-1552 (mobile)matt@olomanaloomisisc.comJune 14, 2012FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Kirk Caldwell Calls on Ben Cayetano to ProvideMeaningful Details – and Answer the Hard Questions –About His Alternative Transit Plan.A statement from Kirk Caldwell, former managing director andacting mayor of the City and County of Honolulu.In recent months, Ben Cayetano has put forward a variety of claims to justify hisalternative Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) plan and undermine support for rail transit. Hehas made these claims and statements in media interviews, community meetingsand public debates, but he has still not revealed anything of substance on his plan.Candidate Cayetano has successfully avoided and evaded the occasional design,operations and funding questions with a quip or vague promise to ―share moredetails later,‖ but he has yet to come through with the promised details. He simplycontinues to pile on more unsupported claims.It is way past time for him to be straight with Honolulu voters and address the hardquestion—the same hard questions that have been answered for rail transit involuminous detail.His threat to stop rail would mean the years of work and millions of dollars spentwould go down the drain with nothing to show for it. Yet, he asks taxpayers whovoted for a transportation solution to buy into his plan sight unseen.Candidate Cayetano claims to be the only candidate with all the right answers, solets hear them. If he does not actually have a workable plan, he needs to bestraight with Honolulu voters. Page 1 of 4
  2. 2. Here are just some of the missing details and unanswered questions of candidateCayetano’s BRT concept on which he owes the voters explanations and answers: How does the Cayetano plan to squeeze an additional 100 BRT buses per hour (the amount needed to match the carrying capacity of rail transit during peak hours) onto Honolulu’s already crowded freeways? If his plan does not call for or allow that many buses, how will he fill the gap needed to match rail’s capacity? How many buses will there be? How much will it help? How much better – or worse – will traffic congestion be after the Cayetano plan is implemented than if rail was operating? How will all of the additional buses fit on the streets and roads once they enter Chinatown and the downtown business district? How will Hotel Street handle the bumper-to-bumper parade of additional buses? How can buses in roadway traffic, facing the same congestion as cars, ever match the speed and reliability of trains on designated guideways? How can buses drive on freeway shoulders when the shoulder lane crosses exit/entrance ramps and highway merges? If buses drive on freeway shoulders, what happens when there is an accident or stalled car? If the buses all have to merge with car lanes in these situations, wont that create a traffic nightmare? How can cars enter and leave parking lots for stores, banks and other businesses on King and Beretania streets when the curb lane is used exclusively for buses? If cars are allowed in to create semi-exclusive bus lanes, won’t that defeat the purpose of exclusive lanes? What happens on overpasses or bridges when the shoulders are too narrow for buses to safely navigate them? How can a bus safely travel at high speed on a shoulder lane past cars stacked up bumper-to-bumper? If BRT takes away HOV or other traffic lanes, what happens to the cars that used to drive in them? Wouldn’t that make for even more traffic congestion? Which routes will the Cayetano Bus Rapid Transit system follow? How often? How much does the Cayetano Rapid Transit plan actually cost? If the BRT that is the basis of the Cayetano plan had a $1 billion plus price tag a decade ago, how could it possibly cost significantly less today? Page 2 of 4
  3. 3. How does the Cayetano plan propose to pay for Bus Rapid Transit when thereis no local funding source, no federal financial support and the money alreadydevoted to rail can’t be used?To match the carrying capacity of rail transit, the Cayetono alternative wouldhave to expand the current bus fleet and staff dramatically. How will we pay forthe operations and maintenance costs which will be several times higher thanthose rail transit on a per-passenger-mile basis?If the half-percent excise tax surcharge can only be used for rail under state law,and if it is actually collected and dispersed by the state, how can candidateCayetano gain control of it for sewer repairs and other City needs?If the half-percent surcharge is not used for rail, as mandated, won’t taxpayersdemand it be stopped and returned to them since it is not being used for itsintended purpose? How then will he pay for BRT?To shut down rail, the City will first have to pay to settle all the claims and legalfees arising from more than $2 billion in contracts that candidate Cayetano sayshe will break. He will have to repay millions in received federal funds. There willbe nothing to show for it–and little or no money left over to do anything with–while traffic will be worse than ever. How can he therefore spend ―all that railmoney‖ which won’t exist anymore on all the projects he says he is going to useit for?How does synchronizing more traffic lights downtown reduce freeway traffic inWaipahu, Pearl City and Aiea?Isn’t making traffic congestion so bad that people will abandon their cars andride buses the underlying assumption of the 2003 Environmental ImpactStatement that is the basis of Ben Cayetano’s plan?If core components of the Cayetano BRT plan were met with major publicopposition the last time we tried it in Honolulu, why would it work now?In interviews, candidate Cayetano has talked about elevating BRT lanes.Where will those go? Where will the exit ramps go? Where will they deliver thebuses? What happens to the traffic on those streets when hundreds of busesare pouring onto them?How will elevated BRT lanes – which are larger and wider than rail guidewaysand require massive on and off ramps connecting with surface streets – haveless of a visual impact than rail? Show us what these will look like.What will businesses do when the Cayetano plan’s BRT takes away on-streetparking on Beretania Street and King Street?Why does candidate Cayetano support the Beretania Street and King Street Page 3 of 4
  4. 4. BRT routes now when he opposed them as governor?Candidate Cayetano has stated BRT buses would run ―on the mauka side ofthe street.‖ How does that work if the bus door is on the traffic side of the bus?If candidate Cayetano is elected, he will undoubtedly have to conduct a newEIS for BRT with all relevant studies (traffic, air quality, other environmentalimpacts, social impacts, economic impacts). He cannot use 2003 EIS as heclaims – his preferred route, traffic, population and economic conditions havechanged and costs for construction have changed. Since the EIS processnormally takes four years before construction starts how can he claim his planwill be in operation before his first term ends?How does candidate Cayetano propose to pay for the cost of conducting a newEIS for his transit plan?Why does candidate Cayetano keep saying that no one is using steel-on-steeltechnology anymore when several cities – Seattle, Portland, Vancouver andDallas, to name just a few – have recently completed successful steel-on-steelrail systems? (Every new rail transit system in the U.S. is steel-on-steel.)Which specifically are the all the city rail systems that candidate Cayetanokeeps referring to as failures?Which cities are effectively using Bus Rapid Transit exclusively instead of rail?How are diesel-guzzling buses environmentally smarter than electrically-powered trains?Candidate Cayetano recently has added ―at-grade‖ light rail systems as part ofhis plan for Honolulu. Where does he plan to use light rail? How does he planto fund it? How will trains intersect and interfere with street traffic?How can candidate Cayetano be "confident" of federal funding for BRT, whenthe Federal Transit Authority (FTA) clearly prefers the steel-on-steel option andwhen there is no support for BRT from Hawaii’s Congressional team inWashington, DC? (The FTA revoked the record of decision on the old BRTproject he is using as his model and it is no longer eligible for federal funding.)Why is candidate Cayetano supporting Bus Rapid Transit when his own transitadvisors – including Cliff Slater – are against it?Why does candidate Cayetano offer up a plan that does not address many ofthe same issues that he criticizes about rail? (In fact, traffic congestion will notonly be worse after the Cayetano BRT system is in place, but it will much worsethan it would be with rail.)In the past, candidate Cayetano was against building the Hawaii Convention Page 4 of 4
  5. 5. Center; he wanted to turn over the Ala Wai Golf Course to private developers, and started the process of under-funding the state employees retirement fund (leading to a statewide financial disaster today.) Why is he right on rail? How is it that Ben Cayetano is right, and everyone else – Dan Inouye, Dan Akaka, Mazie Hirono, Colleen Hanabusa, Neil Abercrombie, the Federal Transportation Administration and the Obama Administration – is wrong in their support of rail transit? With all of these unanswered questions, is candidate Cayetano really serious about implementing BRT, or is his half-baked plan only a window dressing to provide a temporary distraction as he pursues his crusade to kill rail transit? If he kills rail with no viable alternative, how will Honolulu ever solve its traffic challenges?The voters are waiting, Mr. Cayetano. You owe them answers to all of thesequestions. ### Page 5 of 4