Oahu's light rail line that will run from east Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.
Oahu has a traffic problem. A big, big traffic problem.
In short, it works like this: A huge number of the jobs that people travel to are located in Honolulu (which includes Waikiki, see Waikiki Guide) and most generally work the same hours. So, right there that means everyone is commuting around the same time each work day.
Many of these people don't live in Honolulu due to the higher cost of housing there so they have to commute from the west side, east side, central inland areas, and other less costly places to live. When you want to get from one side of the island to Honolulu you generally only have one route (you can only put so many roads and freeways on a small island).
So, guess what that means? Correct, a lot of people on the same roads at the same time going the same way. It's a monumental problem that can cause you to easily have a 1 to 2 hour commute (especially with construction, maintenance, and accidents) even if you are just traveling a distance of 20 miles.
We have a pretty good bus system here, called TheBus, but that isn't solving the problem so in comes a light rail solution from the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, or HART as they are called. Seems like they came up with HART and then made a name to fit it, doesn't it?
The rail plan is highly controversial. It is often in the news, a huge part of elections here, and just one of those things that has so much going for it and against it (depending on who you believe). Everyone has an opinion on it. Everyone. Most are wrong.
The route will sort of parallel the H1 freeway and start in east Kapolei and run to Ala Moana Center (near Waikiki) and will have a total of 21 stations over its 20 mile route. According to HART, if you ride from one end to the other it will take 42 minutes. That's not quick. Sort of ironic since the "R" in HART stands for Rapid!
Now, you can make that same trip in a car much faster if there isn't any traffic to deal with. But add traffic and suddenly rail might look like a decent option. Add in the fact that TheBus and rail will use the same cost and ticketing system and it might make sense for a lot of commuters. They also say that trains will arrive every 3 minutes during peak travel times, every 6 minutes during the day, and every 10 minutes in evenings.
The trains will travel at 55 mph max with an average of 27 mph when the station stops are factored in. Considering gridlocked traffic moves somewhere around 0 mph, an average of 27 mph sounds downright speedy. The vehicles are completely driver-less as well and can hold 400 passengers per two car train.
Is this the solution that will solve Oahu's traffic problems? Of course not. Is this going to take a lot of cars of the road? Maybe. Will it be everything HART promises it to be? Not a chance.
But look at it this way: At some point you have to stop talking about what's right, what's wrong, what's best for our future transportation needs, and just do something. Do something. Anything. Try it, find the problems, and fix them. Was New York's subway a success overnight? No, but that city would shut down without it today. This too will be an evolutionary process and it all starts with somebody trying something.
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