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Leave no stone unturned before passing rail's point of no return


POSTED:

20110222-016 CTY RAILThese are some of the sign wavers that oppose the mass transit rail project.  They were across the street where Mayor Carlisle held a groundbreaking ceremony for Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project (Rail Transit Project).  The ceremony was held off the North-South Road in Kapolei (next to the Croc Center (Salvation Army Complex).  Senators Dan Inouye and Dan Akaka, U.S. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, Hawaii House of Representatives Speaker Calvin Say, Hawaii State Senate Pres. Shan Tsutsui, Chairman, Honolulu City Council, Nestor Garcia, Wayne Yoshioka, Dir. Depart. of Transportation Services, Toru Hamayasu, General Manager, Honolulu Rail Transit Project and Mufi Hannemann, former Mayor of Honolulu were also present.  PHOTO BY DENNIS ODA.  FEB. 22, 2011.

I was invited to join the group that filed a lawsuit to stop the rail project.

While I share some of the concerns expressed by them, I decided against joining them, because essentially, I am not anti-rail, and I believe some rail options are important to Hawaii's future.

I need to state that I have not been involved in the rail process, and don't have a monetary interest, as attorney or consultant.

But because of the enormity of the project and my desire to see our citizens and taxpayers, now and into the future, get the best deal possible, I can no longer remain silent.

Whenever we have a project, we use a bidding process to ensure we get the best price and the best arrangement to complete the project. We issue an RFP — a request for proposal — clearly setting forth the details to require compliance.

The integrity of this bidding process is very important.

In this current rail project, there are many questions. The chosen bidder did not have a license at the time of bid, therefore did not comply with the RFP.

Also, the penalty assessed did not comply with existing statutes, and the bid price did not appear to cover the true cost of the project.

If you were seeking to do a project, you ought to be concerned about:

1) Getting a fair price, not one doctored to appear low.

2) The past performance of the party on a similar situation in other places.

3) The viability of the party to see the project through, which would include the support or non-support of related companies.

All of these concerns now exist with this rail project. This raises many questions about the chosen party's ability to complete the project, from start to finish.

We are dangerously close to the point of no return, but there is still time to rethink and consider where we are.

The public cannot spend time analyzing the details of the bid from various contractors to determine who might offer the best price or deliver the best train. But the public has every right to expect that the city and the Honolulu Rapid Transportation Authority have left no stone unturned to ensure that the right, the best decision is made so that taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely.

The public has a right to expect the city and HART to take every precaution to ensure that rail does not just get started, but that it is completed on time and on budget.

I am getting on in years so rail is not for me — rather, it is for our children and grandchildren.

Those who are minding the store now need to ask themselves if they are doing the right thing by them and take another close look at the options.

The city and HART's best assurance of delivering a world-class rail system is to entrust the task to a company with a proven track record. That is the prediction of future success. Only then will people breathe easier — and travel better.






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KeithHaugen wrote:
Thank you, Governor. We need someone of your stature to tell the rail propoents to get their act together. It would help if they could be honest with the public, the voters and taxpayers who will pay for this white elephant, but that might be too much to expect. It would help if they would realize that a majority of the people on O`ahu do not want the proposed rail and know that we can't afford it, and cannot expect the financially strapped federal government to bail us out. It would help if they would put the concerns of the public first. With that in mind, the logical solution at this point in time (before the Mayor commits more millions of dollars), our elected officials should put it to a vote. Let the people say "yes" or "no" to spending billions of dollars that we don't have and can't afford, to build a railroad that we won't serve our needs.
on November 9,2011 | 04:37AM
BarkingEagle wrote:
He's only writing this now because Sumitomo didn't get the contract.
on November 9,2011 | 06:59AM
KeithHaugen wrote:
Aloha: I know Governor Ariyoshi and doubt seriously that his decision to voice his opinion was influenced by Sumitomo or anyone else. He would have said the same thing if any other company was chosen, without having a local license, and all of the other hanky-panky that we've seen between the City and the Italian company. If you knew the Governor, you would not even have suggested that, I think.
on November 10,2011 | 02:56PM
menloboy wrote:
It is doubtful the people of Honolulu know what they are in for with this project. Here in California, the people voted for high speed rail billed at $34 billion, only to find out the real cost is now $98 billion with a possible 20% over run. There is now major opposition to the project, but the folks in Sacramento see jobs, jobs, jobs no matter what the cost. If not stopped by numerous law suits, it may be placed on the ballot again for the people to decide now that they know the full scope of this project. That people on Oahu did not have a chance to vote yes or no on the most expensive project ever in Hawaii is unbelievable. The vote of "steel wheels on steel" or rubber, or bamboo, or what ever was a joke. Come on people, stand up!
on November 9,2011 | 07:16AM
aiea7 wrote:
Hey Berg and Genadio, cite examples where there are commuter mag-lv trains that stop every mile or so. You guys claim that mag-lv would be cheaper and best but mag-lv is built for high speed and longer distances between stops. Governor, the questions you have raised as the same as those posed the the gang of four. However, the administration and HART have reviewed these concerns and believe that they are not subtanital. Anyone can raise all kinds of questions, valid or not, but you have to rely on these who are responsbile to carry out the project to make the right decisions, If the administration and HART felt that things have not been done right or need adjustment they would do so. So far, they believe that the questions and issues raised by the gang of four regarding Ansaldo are really non-issues. HART is responsible to see this project through, do you think that they would not excercise diligence in carrying out their duties? If they don't they will be severly criticized, do you think they want that?
on November 9,2011 | 10:21AM
FrankGenadio wrote:
The online comment system has been hard to use today. Anyway, aiea7, the answer to your question is the HSST (also called Linimo by the Japanese) in Nagoya, Japan. It is an urban (i.e., medium speed) mag-lev, has been in revenue operations for well over six years, and is much quieter, safer, and more reliable than any steel wheels system. Also FYI, both Korea and China are now developing similar urban mag-levs for Incheon and Beijing. None of the above are high-speed systems but any of them (developed here) would cost much less in guideway construction costs and would produce considerable savings in operations and maintenance costs yearly compared to any steel wheel system.
on November 9,2011 | 12:14PM
aiea7 wrote:
frank, the linimo was built as an experimental mag-lv for the 2005 expo. Taiwan was to have built a similar system in 2006 but it was scratched. No other system since. The linimo had numerous techincal problems and still do, that is why there has not been any more such systems being built. Despite your insistence that it is cheaper to operate, the linimo system is still losing money. Not sure, but are the Korea and China mag-lv systems a commuter system or high speed sytem between cities separated by large distances? The linimo despite using mag-lv, does have wheels because it has to travel at "low speed", masdg-lv to work properly has to lift off the tracks using high speed, at low speeds, say 30 MPH, there is not sufficient speed to generate the uplift. Try to be truthful, as you folk complain the the administration is not truthful.
on November 9,2011 | 01:21PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Trying again to input this. I don't know where you get your information but the Linimo has been doing just fine as a commuter system. The "numerous technical problems" you refer to were two cases of overloading the train cars during the Expo years ago. In each case, weight sensors lowered the train to the guideway (while in the station), the excess number of people were offloaded, and the train immediately levitated and service continued. The Linimo does not use its wheels unless it is lowered to the guideway; it runs virtually friction-less and levitated. Please check your "facts" before accusing mag-lev supporters as being untruthful. As for losing money: Are you not aware that our train, just like the vast majority of urban (rail or bus) transit systems will be heavily subsidized by taxpayers? By resolution of the Honolulu City Council, fare box revenues here are restricted to 27-33 percent of operations and maintenance costs. I do not think that is the case for the Vancouver SkyTrain, often touted (by you?) as a money-making system. With O&M costs 25-30 percent below those for steel wheels, a mag-lev would lessen the burden on taxpayers. (Following a planned three-year heavy maintenance inspection, it was found that the Linimo, by the way, could have operated at least another year before such an inspection because of the minimal wear on the system.) Also, a mag-lev has better acceleration and deceleration times than steel wheels, meaning it could lessen the time between stations. (NOTE: The city's current plan, including times at stations, shows an average speed below 30 miles per hour end-to-end.) The Korean and Chinese systems will be, in fact, urban. One will operate on the island that has Incheon's new international airport; the other will add a line to Beijing's municipal rail system. Don't confuse the Beijing system with the high-speed mag-lev operating in Shanghai. Aloha.
on November 9,2011 | 02:42PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Trying again to input this. I don't know where you get your information but the Linimo has been doing just fine as a commuter system. The "numerous technical problems" you refer to were two cases of overloading the train cars during the Expo years ago. In each case, weight sensors lowered the train to the guideway (while in the station), the excess number of people were offloaded, and the train immediately levitated and service continued. The Linimo does not use its wheels unless it is lowered to the guideway; it runs virtually friction-less and levitated. Please check your "facts" before accusing mag-lev supporters as being untruthful. As for losing money: Are you not aware that our train, just like the vast majority of urban (rail or bus) transit systems will be heavily subsidized by taxpayers? By resolution of the Honolulu City Council, fare box revenues here are restricted to 27-33 percent of operations and maintenance costs. I do not think that is the case for the Vancouver SkyTrain, often touted (by you?) as a money-making system. With O&M costs 25-30 percent below those for steel wheels, a mag-lev would lessen the burden on taxpayers. (Following a planned three-year heavy maintenance inspection, it was found that the Linimo, by the way, could have operated at least another year before such an inspection because of the minimal wear on the system.) Also, a mag-lev has better acceleration and deceleration times than steel wheels, meaning it could lessen the time between stations. (NOTE: The city's current plan, including times at stations, shows an average speed below 30 miles per hour end-to-end.) The Korean and Chinese systems will be, in fact, urban. One will operate on the island that has Incheon's new international airport; the other will add a line to Beijing's municipal rail system. Don't confuse the Beijing system with the high-speed mag-lev operating in Shanghai. Aloha.
on November 9,2011 | 02:42PM
aiea7 wrote:
okay, if this linimo system is so fantastic, why did Taiwan cancel a similar system in 2006, there has been no other similar system built in Japan, Taiwan, etc? Yet, many new rail commuter systems have mostly been steel wheels, all over the world, except for the long-distance trains which could use mag-lv. Are these people wrong and you are right? Ask those entities why mag-lv was not consider in their commuter rail system. Actions speak louder than words.
on November 9,2011 | 05:55PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Sorry for the late response; have been off-line. Concerning a Taiwan mag-lev: You apparently know something I do not, because I have not heard of even a test project in Taiwan; perhaps you can direct me to a Web site. As for new steel wheels systems, they have been predominantly at-grade light rail. The reviews for one heavy rail system, Tren Urbana in Puerto Rico, have not been good. I think you know as well as I do that the steel wheels lobby has made it very difficult for urban mag-lev to "get off the ground" in the U.S., just as the (so-called) expert panel here in 2008 was four steel wheels "hired guns" outvoting Panos. If you are interested in ongoing mag-lev efforts in the U.S., you might want to check out Miscellaneous Communication #M-1891 on the City Council Web site for 2011, the keynote address given by Laurence Blow at the 2011 Maglev Conference in Korea last month; it includes both high-speed and urban mag-lev (I like to hyphenate the acronym even if others do not) systems. I am well aware of what an "uphill battle" this is, but am still hopeful that our city officials can re-open the rail competition and bring us a better, more modern, system that also will deliver $1.5 billion (with a "B") in savings over 30 years.
on November 9,2011 | 07:32PM
aiea7 wrote:
The sky train in Vancouver, Canada is not meg-lv, why not? That is the system that Honolulu is trying to replicate. Commuter Mag-lv is an a proven commodity - why would a city spend upwards of $4B to do something that is not proven; if it does not work, then everything is down the drain. Steel wheels commuter trains, while a little more expensive, it is proven, worldwide and for many years. No mass transit system is perfect from all standpoints, but reliability is paramount is building a system, one that will last and provide consistent service. Mag-lv use in a commuter rail is not proven as evidenced by the lack of them in current use as compared to steel wheels.
on November 9,2011 | 07:47PM
wondermn1 wrote:
The City & County needs to re-look at the options for building a system using modern technology, somthing that will blend with the terrain and be able have flexibility in its routes as well as expanability. The & council members who said the public has no need to vote need to be removed ,That would beTulsi Gabbad, Nester Garcia Earnest Martin, Ikaika Anderson, Stanley Chang, Romy Cahola and Breen Harimoto. The people of Honolulu deseve better and we have the need to vote on this monstosity of cement stations with STEEL ON STEEL LOUD AND OBNOXIOUS RAIL SYSTEM THEY ARE TRYING TO SHOVE UP OUR AS#
on November 9,2011 | 06:59PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
You might be interested in the following quote: "What we rode today made no noise at all...Even when we were in the conference room, trains were passing all the time and no one blinked. No one even heard it." That was from (then) councilman Donovan Dela Cruz speaking about the Linimo mag-lev in Nagoya. He accompanied former mayor Hannemann and two other council members to Japan on a fact-finding trip. (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 9, 2005.) That article was the first time I heard of an urban mag-lev, and subsequent research convinced me that the system would be a strong competitor here---until the city did not allow it to compete.
on November 9,2011 | 07:59PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
You might be interested in the following quote: "What we rode today made no noise at all...Even when we were in the conference room, trains were passing all the time and no one blinked. No one even heard it." That was from (then) councilman Donovan Dela Cruz speaking about the Linimo mag-lev in Nagoya. He accompanied former mayor Hannemann and two other council members to Japan on a fact-finding trip. (Honolulu Star-Bulletin, October 9, 2005.) That article was the first time I heard of an urban mag-lev, and subsequent research convinced me that the system would be a strong competitor here---until the city did not allow it to compete.
on November 9,2011 | 07:59PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Am unable to respond directly to the 7:47 p.m. comment by "aiea7" because there is no Reply tab, and am trying this for the second time. The current plan is not to replicate the SkyTrain; Ansaldo won the competition, not Bombardier. Perhaps you are hoping for a change to the supplier that "kicked in" the most campaign money locally. How can you state that a system that has been in revenue operations since March 2005 is "unproven" (unless you had a hand in writing the Environmental Impact Statement, which, as I recall, stated "unproven in U.S.")? My submitted comment on the EIS was that "The first use of a steam locomotive was in the United Kingdom in 1804, and the first commercial use in the United States was in 1829. If anything unproven in the U.S. cannot be considered, we would still be moving people and cargo in covered wagons." The city did not follow the Notice of Intent for the EIS and everybody knows it. The Linimo, last checked earlier this year, had a reliability rating above 99.97 percent; if reliability (as you say) is paramount, go mag-lev. Thanks, however, for agreeing that steel wheels are more expensive.
on November 9,2011 | 08:44PM
aiea7 wrote:
Frank - please answer my question - if linimo is so great, then why has there not been more such systems (commuter meg-lv) else where in the world.? Yet, new commuter rail systems (since 2005) are mostly steel wheels. Don't you think that entities builiding new commuter rails systems would want to build the best for the money? This is my point - why take a chance of an "unproven" technology when there are proven technology that are reliable. Taiwan was supposed to build a commuter mag-lv in 2006 but it was cancelled; not sure if they decided to build a commuter rail using another technology. This apparently shows that they were not satisfied with its performance based on Linimo. Apparently other countries were not impressed too, since no one has build a commuter mag-lv train since linimo. What I meant in replication of the Vancouver sytem, is that an elevated system using steel wheels (the type of train car does not make a difference).
on November 10,2011 | 08:39AM
saveparadise wrote:
What happens when the people have used up all the resources? Population must diminish or remain constant before we learn the true meaing of finite. Sustain whatever population and resources necessary and we can continue indefinitely as well as allow for any major disruption. Even if this train does relieve some traffic it is but an expensive band aid on our future woes on an island state unless we can expand our shores to fit the growing population.
on November 10,2011 | 03:37PM
FrankGenadio wrote:
Tried inputting this before; refreshed and even closed the site and re-opened it without success. Trying for fourth time, but not as a direct Reply. Hi again, aiea7; I did not realize yesterday's dialog was continuing, but let me try again to answer you. There are always reasons for why there is more of one system than others. Costs, capabilities, and uncertainties about "breaking new ground" enter into the thinking of officials making acquisition decisions. I already mentioned how difficult it has been for either high- or medium-speed mag-levs to gain a "foothold" in the U.S. I believe that the biggest obstacle is an entrenched bureaucracy bolstered by heavy steel wheels lobbying efforts. What really bothers me is the way in which the U.S. seems to be losing its reputation for creativity and innovation. Nations like China and Japan still send their students to our universities, to learn our methods, but then take our ideas and "run with them." Concerning the urban mag-lev, I don't know what Taiwan did for a rail system but please check the Incheon and Beijing (mag-lev) developments, both of which will be operational before our steel wheels system; their suppliers seemed impressed enough with the Japanese mag-lev to go ahead with virtual "clones" of the Linimo. At this stage, I have no idea if their implementers, or even Mitsubishi-Itochu (which spent its own money in presenting and advocating for its Linimo locally before being "shut out") will even consider entering a new rail competition on O'ahu. My feeling is that they would if they believed the competition would be fair and open. If you seem to believe that steel wheels systems are so superior, why would you be concerned about an open competition that included all qualified rail system suppliers? Let the best system win. I, for one, would have been lending strong support to the project if a steel wheels system beat out the mag-lev, conventional monorail, and rubber tire on concrete systems in an open competition. As it now stands, however, I believe that this city will be implementing an operationally inferior and more costly rail system; I will hope for its success but will never lose that "bad taste in my mouth" about how it came into being. Finally, your statement that all elevated steel wheels systems are the same is not accurate. The SkyTrain uses a different propulsion system than Sumitomo and Ansaldo, the linear induction motor (or LIM). The LIM, by the way, also is used in the Japanese mag-lev, with the motors on the rail car and the guideway (relatively) inert. Does the LIM make the Vancouver system also unproven in the U.S.? If so, why was Bombardier even allowed to submit a bid? I think that you know all the answers and are, in fact, afraid that a mag-lev might very well win a fair competition and bring us a modern rail system.
on November 10,2011 | 04:31PM
HonoluluHawaii wrote:
L
on November 16,2011 | 08:09PM
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