FACT CHECK — Carlisle: Rail Will Take 40,000 Cars Off The Road

Flickr: wyscan

What is the impact of the proposed Honolulu rail project on future traffic?

It's a pretty straightforward question, and an important one for the project. Opponents have repeatedly pointed out that traffic will be worse with rail than it is today. Planners have said it's more appropriate to compare future traffic levels with rail against future traffic levels without rail.

Speaking Oct. 18 to the Rotary Club of Honolulu, Mayor Peter Carlisle said rail "will take an estimated 40,000 vehicles off our roads each weekday in 2030." (He made a similar remark after his Jan. 24 press conference upon his return from Washington D.C., but we don't have the audio.)

Watch the video here, courtesy of Robyn C. Ocepek on Vimeo:

Skip to the 9:15 point to listen to Carlisle make the following statement:

"We want to talk a little bit about some actual facts. Rail will ease future congestion — without rail, the congestion will be far worse. It will take an estimated 40,000 vehicles off our roads each weekday in 2030; especially during rush hour traffic. There will be zero traffic congestion in the future for those who ride grade-separated transit."

Here's a screen capture of the slide he's reading:

His language — touting his talking points as "actual fact" — begged for a Civil Beat Fact Check.

We came up with three important questions we hoped to address with our work:

  • How did Carlisle come up with that estimate?
  • How does it fit in with both ridership projections and industry standards for measuring traffic impact?
  • Is it backed up in the Environmental Impact Statement or any other documents?
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