Lee Catterall writes in Sunday’s paper that there is “more to Honolulu’s public transit future” than just rail.
City transit planners intend to integrate TheBus and TheHandi-Van with the rail project by shifting them to carry passengers to rail stations for the second leg of their commute.
Catterall quotes J. Roger Morton, president and general manager of Oahu Transit Services Inc., which operates TheBus and TheHandi-Van, as saying rail “will provide a very important backbone for us in our most heavily used corridor, so obviously our services are going to change.” Morton goes on to say, “We did come out as the top in the country in linking residences to jobs in the community,” Morton added, “and I just can’t see that that would be anything but enhanced with a combination bus and rail.”
Catterall then quotes Wayne Yoshioka, the city’s director of transportation services, who says the rail corridor “contains about 68 percent of employment (of Oahu), and I think that’s going to increase to about 70 percent in the future. That’s consistent with the whole background of the transit system.”
“I’m looking forward to the point where the rail comes in and naturally frees up our buses,” Yoshioka said, “so that with the same fleet size, without increasing our fleet size, we can first serve the rail stations but then we still have more buses that can be deployed elsewhere.”
Caterall writes that “the rail project with bus connections was envisioned more than 30 years ago, when the seeds of Oahu’s ‘second city’ were planted below the Makakilo hillside community.”
Asked if the project has been put in jeopardy by Cayetano, Yoshioka said, “I hope not. The people of Honolulu have waited long enough for this. We’ve been trying to do this since the ’70s and it’s not going to get any cheaper to do.”
Caterall wraps up by noting U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Sen. Daniel Inouye during a committee hearing on Thursday that his department is “committed to this. We’re committed to the money; we’re committed to the project. And, until we hear differently from others who are immediately involved in this, I see no reason why we won’t go forward.”
Yoshioka agrees, and says he will also continue forward according to plan. “If any of those financial plans were unacceptables to FTA, it would have stopped this project at that point,” he said. “And it hasn’t stopped it.”
Subscribers can read the column here: