Carlisle makes the train his own

O‘ahu rail opponents won’t be happy with new Mayor Peter Carlisle’s strong endorsement of the $5.5 billion project on his first day in office, but they shouldn’t be surprised after his consistent support of the commuter train during the campaign.

To show the high priority he gives rail, Carlisle will travel to Washington, D.C. with City Council members in his critical first few days to assure the Federal Transit Administration and Congress that Honolulu’s commitment to building the 20-mile line from Kapolei to Honolulu is fully intact.

The new administration faces major challenges in moving the project forward. The state hasn’t completed its review of the environmental impact statement, and oppenents threaten to sue over the way the EIS was conducted as soon as it is filed.

Gov. Linda Lingle continues to insist on a financial review, which she says won’t likely be finished before a new governor takes over. Sen. Daniel Inouye has said the delay could threaten federal funding. And the political dynamics are in flux with five of the nine council seats soon changing hands.

Those who generally favor rail but have been worried about the execution will be interested to see if Carlisle changes the management of the project by tightening contracting, making it more transparent and cutting back the number of high-paid PR people hired for rail.

A less hostile city attitude toward citizens with contrary ideas would be welcome, as would an effort to forge a more collaborative working relationship with the state.

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19 Comments on “Carlisle makes the train his own”

  1. Richard Gozinya Says:

    Rail has become so divisive an issue that I simply will not make any public comments, a position formerly reserved for matters of personal religious choices,race and sexual preference.

    From a political standpoint I think our new Mayor has already missed a great opportunity to lead by uniting the citizens and has instead, by this cheer leading, only acted to sustain the divisiveness.

  2. zzzzzz Says:

    It’s not just ‘Those who generally favor rail but have been worried about the execution’ who are interested in how Carlisle proceeds.

    All of us on O’ahu have a stake in how he proceeds, so a lot of us, regardless of our stance on rail, will be very interested in how Carlisle addresses some of the more contentious issues, like transparency in contracting, spending tax money on propagandizing, and whether community input will actually be considered.

  3. Michael Says:

    To Protect Hawaii is a priority. Super Ferry was sold. So the idea of Mass transit is now Rail. Rail should not even be an issue of importance since it will cover little ground and traffic will still be there. Just more concrete. Go to Hawaii and see Concrete. Where’s da Coconut Trees? Turned into a parking lot.

    Limit the amount of people who can live on an Island. Shelter and Feed the people first.

    Seems rail has been in the planning for decades starting with Mayor Fasi and still in planning. Looks good on paper. Too bad the paper is not green as in the color of money.

  4. WooWoo Says:

    Oberstar is getting a run for his money in MN-08.

  5. ppcc Says:

    Not hard to figure out where Carlisle is getting heavy financial support from. If Carlisle wants to pick up where Captain Mufi left off with his white rail obsession, fine. Oahu residents who are being taxed to death yet pay for a 2nd rate public education system, sewage, road infrastructure, etc. are sick and tired of the political railroading of the $6-$10 BILLION Aloha train to nowhere and will soon start looking for a new mayor in 2 years when Carlisle’s temporary term is up.

    In about 2 weeks, one or both the House or Senate will have a Republican majority and in 2012 Obama will lose his re-election bid and a Republican President such as Romney will be in power. The $1.5 billion expected to be provided by the Feds will NEVER materialize and the lawsuits against the rail project and/or EIS will be filed as soon as either Abercrombie or Aiona become Governor and sign the EIS.

  6. ppcc Says:


    How is the Akaka bill doing?
    Given the President of the US and BOTH House and Senate leadership are all for the Akaka bill, the House and Senate are Demo controlled AND the Hawaii Repub Governor Lingle a few months back sent letters of endorsement for the Akaka bill to House and Senate members, the Akaka SHOULD have been a done deal.

    I guess Carlisle and the rest of the City council members want to “feel” important by traveling to Washington DC on the taxpayer’s dime to act and feel like they and the current lame duck Congress is actually relevant to anyone.

  7. WooWoo Says:

    It must really piss off Mufi that he worked so hard to build the rail gravy train and now Carlisle gets to play conductor.

  8. Doug Carlson Says:

    My response to all your commenters, Dave, is to ask them to put up their alternatives to rail. They don’t want Hawaii to be paved over with concrete, fine — then HOT lanes or any other highway alternative can’t be right. Do nothing? That’s a non-starter unless they want no option to sitting in traffic for cross-town travel. Rail’s the option. And please, all of you, spare us the hand-wringing over the “view-blocking” elevated guideway. There are about 20 high-rises planned for Kakaako to ensure the ocean view is completely walled off.

  9. ppcc Says:

    I clearly offered a superior alternative to Mufi, now Carlisle’s train to nowhere:

    Has the train to nowhere reached its destination?

  10. Doug Carlson Says:

    ppcc, I completely understand that you believe your alternative is superior; it would be surprising if you didn’t believe that. To allow the rest of us to judge its merits, please refer us to the section of the FEIS in which your suggestion is analyzed and presumably dispensed with. Thank you.

  11. zzzzzz Says:

    Doug, there’s at least two parts to your 10:23.

    One would be alternatives to rail in general. The other would be alternatives to Mufi’s version of rail, which he has presented as the only version of rail.

    IMO, there are a lot of possible improvements that could be made in the current rail plan. I’m hoping that Carlisle will be open to considering them.

    I’d like to see street-level rail considered for the town part of the train. Elevated rail means fewer, less accessible, stops, which limits rail’s utility for intra-town transport. I’ve seen street-level rail in downtown San Jose and Portland, and between commutes they were still busy on weekdays with people going to restaurants, shops, and offices. Without intra-town transportation, a lot of people who work in town will still drive because they want their cars available to get places during the day, e.g., lawyers going to court.

  12. Doug Carlson Says:

    There’s no question, zzzzzz, that at-grade systems have been built elsewhere. That’s not in debate. The ability to deliver fast, frequent, reliable and safe transportation is and meeting our community’s particular needs is. You might have mentioned Phoenix and Houston, citizens of which have become alarmed at the number of train collisions with buses, trucks and cars. Also not in debate is whether “a lot of people who work in town will still drive…..” Of course they will. Nobody ever said everybody would use rail every day. Some will never use it. Some will ride 10 or times a week. Rail will perfectly fit the needs and circumstances of more than 100,000 daily riders. To eliminate its benefit for them because others will have three or more car trips to make each day would satisfy nobody’s needs.

  13. ppcc Says:

    What you don’t mention is the EIS for Mufi/Carlisle’s rail was paid with taxpayers monies and produced by Parsons in which they supposedly determined rail was the best solution for Oahu’s mass transit needs. HOWEVER what you have not mentioned is that when Parsons, the SAME company that performed the EIS for former Mayor Harris’ Bus Rapid Transit system, Parson’s earlier EIS documented that a fixed rail train was INFERIOR to the Bus Rapid Transit system, that Harris was pushing.

    It is clear the EIS is clearly a biased analysis, paid with taxpayer monies to justify whatever transit system the current administration is trying to “railroad” into existence.

    From the previous thread that I linked, I have asked you address specific issues and you have yet to answer them:

    * I made the statement that on Oahu, it is the W Oahu to town school commuting crowd that pushes weekday commuter traffic from bearable to gridlock. Do you deny this statement?

    * I made the contention that Mufi/Carlisle’s rail will require these school commuters to catch a bus to the train station in failed Hoopili development transit station, take the train that has 20 stops every mile taking almost 45 minutes, then drop off at Ala Moana Ctr and wait to catch another bus to their destination, possibly walking to their final destination of UH, Punahou, Iolani, Marynoll, St Francis, etc. etc. Even a current express bus using existing routes such as the H1 zipper and PARTIAL contraflow to Nimitz will take less than half the time even they used the train. A simple extension of the Nimitz contraflow via Ala Moana Blvd and slightly beyond to UH will insure for the entire morning commute the travel time will be about 40 minutes. Therefore if the train cannot be utilized by the school commuting crowd it will NEVER improve roadway traffic and the talking point that the train will save commuters time is pure BS.
    Do you dispute my travel time numbers?

    It is clear that the Parsons has NOT done any real analysis on Oahu’s traffic situation cause then it would never justify their current pro-rail EIS propaganda. Their original EIS done when Harris was Mayor was probably a whole lot more truthful regarding the appropriateness of a train on Oahu and from their earlier EIS, Parsons documented that a train for Oahu is INFERIOR to other alternatives.

  14. Doug Carlson Says:

    You’re right, ppcc, I didn’t mention what you’ve put in your first paragraph because I don’t dwell in the realm of conspiracy theories and insider self-serving that you seem to see everywhere. Doing what you suggest with the FTA/DOT looking over Honolulu’s shoulders is inconceivable.

    Let’s address your other issues, and I’ll first ask you what the highway conditions and commuting challenges will be in 2080. Do you have an answer, or is all your analysis backward looking? Because this system is being designed for 2080 and beyond, and if you think a non-traffic option won’t be crucial by then and decades before then, well, you’re living in a realm with denial is the prime motivation. If 2080 is too far out for you, think about 2030, which the FEIS does.

    Let’s address your oh-so-hard-to-imagine bus-train-bus commuting but asking again what your 2080 projection is. Got any ideas there, ppcc? Are you asserting that by 2050, 60, 70 and beyond or even by 2030 that your times will be just what you say they are today? Because that’s almost laughable.

    Just tell us all the exact paragraphs in the FEIS that you think are bunk, okay? Let’s make the FEIS the touchstone for all of this discussion, because just throwing out personal opinions is worthless. Get out of the Harris Administration and come into this one, and the one after this one and the one after that. I care not one bit what was said back then. It’s irrelevant, or do you dispute THAT?

  15. David Shapiro Says:

    Well, I guess this answers the question about whether the Carlisle administration has changed the policy of paying a PR guy to argue down every anonymous commenter on every blog who isn’t with the plan.

  16. Doug Carlson Says:

    Dave, what do you think the project should do — let anonymous commenters go unchallenged when their reasoning seems far removed from the goals of the project and detached from the thousands of hours of study and planning that have gone into the FEIS? Sorry you seem to think we should stand silently aside in the face of what seem to be short-sighted attacks on the project. BTW, your animus about “PR” goes back many years and has become a part of your DNA. I suppose you could always block my posts if you want one-sided comments here.

  17. David Shapiro Says:

    You’re right, Doug. Folks should just sit back and enjoy having scads of their tax dollars put to work bashing them for daring to offer input that they don’t think was honestly solicited during all those thousands of hours of “study.” I have no animus to PR in general, just to the ham-handed way it’s sometimes practiced.

  18. Doug Carlson Says:

    Dave…Dave, slow down. Ham-handed? No animus regarding PR? Maybe you don’t, but you do consistently discredit or negatively describe those of us who do this kind of work. We go way back, and I’ve been reading your copy for a long time.

    Let’s be clear that challenging people to think ahead 20, 40, 60 years about transportation and asking them to rethink their rearward-looking view of the project is not “bashing.” I don’t have the time and you don’t have the space to record here all the occasions when they DID have those opportunities. They’re not happy with the outcome of those studies and plans, or they weren’t paying attention then, or whatever. Now they’re sounding off and attacking the project and everyone who stands up to support it. Surely you don’t want your blog to be just another bash-rail site like the collection of miserable, malignant posts below the Star-Advertiser’s stories, editorials and letters.

  19. John Roco Says:

    Why spend $5.5 billion for a line that does not reduce jams, from key places jams begin?

    Why spend 5 times the $$$$$ for a line that does not reach Nanakuli, Heart of Kapolei, Ko Olina, Ewa, West Loch, nor in front of Plant on Leeward Coast, from where MANY jammed cars come?

    ‘Cut Costs Combine:’

    OR&L line + Light Rail + Bike Plan = 1/5 of $5.5 Billion

    Using existing resources, we can have ‘LIGHT Rail’(as we VOTED for). See my website, and click the tab ‘Cut Costs Combine.’ Thank you.

    John Roco

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