Given my interest in this topic in some of the recent blogs I've written, I felt it was high time I share my ideas for a public transit network in my former home of Oahu, Hawaii. Between Los Angeles and Honolulu, transit has been a major political and social issue lately, but especially in Hawaii----mostly due to their rocky history with public works projects. While the aloha state's first rail system is still under construction, many people, from civil engineers to politicians, to even plain rail critics have proposed transportation alternatives to stop rail. I would like to propose transportation alternatives to help rail, because as I have said once before, there is no be-all-end-all solution to traffic, rather there are a multitude of options that work together to help move people to their desired destinations and take the load off our congested highways. So, here goes nothing:
Before I start with the other two alternatives to help form a mass transit network, I would like to suggest that one of the currently planned extensions of the Honolulu Rail west to Downtown Kapolei (the other extension is east to both UH Manoa College and Waikiki) be extended another mile or so to Ko Olina, an area of beachfront hotels just outside the rural Waianae Coast. This has been a thriving area for tourists (especially with the Disney Aulani Resort there), it could bring alot of visitors. straight from the Airport to the resort area. All you would need is one carefully placed rail station, which could serve as a hub for two other modes of transit:
Feeder Bus Rapid Transit/Feeder Express Bus: Contrary to the beliefs of some, having a rail system does not, and should not mean it is a replacement for Oahu's bus system, "TheBus." Both trains and buses have operating advantages and disadvantages that can be helped by the other. Trains can move passengers quicker (especially above or below ground trains), but cannot reach outlying hilly areas, while buses can reach those areas, but are often slowed by major highway and freeway traffic, traffic signals, etc. This is why using existing express bus routes to feed into the rail can help both modes as well as help tourists and residents reach the Ko Olina area. These resorts employ hundreds of nearby Waianae Coast residents, most of whom lack adequate vehicle transportation. Currently, hotel workers must walk from a busy highway bus stop and onto either the resort exit ramp or through dry brush to reach their jobs. Having their limited stop Country Express route take those workers off the highway and drop them off directly into the resort area would be much more convenient and safer. This same resort stop can be connected to the rail station, and folks who need to continue eastbound can transfer to the rail, which would bring them into downtown, UH, and Waikiki by that point. Now, there is one more transportation mode that can be linked in this area, as well as other points west and east. It is a mode that was tried briefly and people really liked, but was discontinued likely due to operating costs. I think it can work again, with a little more effort put into it:
TheBoat Commuter Ferry: Back in 2006, the City and County of Honolulu started a Monday-Friday ferry service affectionately called "TheBoat." It was a small fleet of catamaran vessels that ran twice a day between Ko Olina Harbor on West Oahu to Honolulu Harbor on South Oahu, just outside of the Downtown area. At the time, it seemed like a great second option to driving or taking the bus into town from the west side of the island., and I believe that it was. This service should definitely be brought back, but with two extra stops: Ala Wai Boat Harbor to the east, between Ala Moana Center and Waikiki, and Waianae Boat Harbor to the west, giving coast residents their first real option to Farrington Highway, their only road in and out of that coastal community. Transit connections from these two new stops can be made via local and express buses that would drop off/pick up passengers straight from these harbor lots. They can add in extra parking, security, and shaded benches for passengers. While some details will have to be worked out with these two new harbor stops (Ala Wai especially), it would be a greatly appreciated third transit option for Oahu. In the case of connecting all three modes (bus, train, and boat), this would happen near the Ko Olina Harbor, with having a rail station and bus hub in walking distance of TheBoat docks, and the resorts.
So that's my Honolulu transit plan. I can only hope that in at least the next ten years, some version of this transit network is implemented in the islands, as what's currently available (buses cars), just isn't cutting it anymore.