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Cameras trained on freeways will measure the flow of traffic

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Question: There appear to be cameras mounted on H-1 freeway overpasses at Pali Highway, Kalihi Street and Puuloa Road. There is one device for each lane, and every one points at the rear of cars. What are these devices? Who operates them and for what purpose?

Answer: What you’re seeing are the first of 48 cameras the state Department of Transportation plans to install along H-1 and Moanalua Freeway as part of its 511 Advanced Traveler Information System.

The system, already used in other U.S. cities, will “provide accurate, real-time traffic flow information to motorists to help plan their commutes,” a DOT spokesman said. It is expected to be operating by the first half of 2012.

The automated cameras will randomly select and monitor license plates between given points along the freeways.

“Rear license plate images will be taken, truncated, encrypted, and travel times between the camera locations will be calculated,” the spokesman said.

For those concerned about privacy or “Big Brother watching,” he said the cameras will detect only license plates, and the images will be deleted once calculations are completed: “No data will be stored, and the system will not be used to issue speeding citations.”

Instead, travel time data will be displayed on highway message boards, relayed to TV and radio stations, and posted on the DOT’s traffic information website and the planned 511 automated phone system.

The idea is to make “real-time traffic information” available to motorists 24/7 via phone or the Internet.

Q: My elderly neighbor told me that she and her husband returned from the mainland recently and decided to catch a cab from the taxi stand just outside the luggage area. When she told the driver they lived in Aliamanu, which is close to the airport, he refused. So they called their daughter who lives in Kaneohe at 11 p.m. to pick them up. What should my neighbor have done?

A: They should have immediately contacted the taxicab dispatcher in the taxicab loading area.

It is a violation of the city’s taxicab ordinance to refuse to take a fare, said Dennis Kamimura, administrator of the city Motor Vehicle and Licensing Division.

Taxicab complaints are investigated by the Motor Vehicle Control Section.

Your neighbors can send a written complaint to Motor Vehicle Control Section, P.O. Box 30350, Honolulu, HI 96820-0350.

All complaints should contain as much information as possible: date, time and location of the incident; identification of the taxicab operator, taxicab company and vehicle license plates; and description of the incident.

If anyone believes they were overcharged, they should submit a copy of the receipt for the charges paid, Kamimura said.

Otherwise, complaints about airport taxi queue procedures, such as dispatching issues or safety concerns, can be directed to the Honolulu Airport taxi management contractor, Ampco Express, at 861-8294.

If further attention is required, contact the Department of Transportation at 587-2160 or email


To York, a third-year marine studies student at the University of Hawaii from Pohnpei, John from Manoa and Kealoha Kelekolio, who lent us a flashlight and came to my aid with my car on the evening of April 20 on Metcalf Street. York got the job done and I got home safely. Mahalo to these fine gentlemen who took the time in the dark and got me on my way!

— Puamana Crabbe

Kokua Line will be on vacation until May 31. Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email
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