The basic plan laid out uses a two prong strategy of persuasive as well as coercive tactics. The coercive tactics spelled out in the plan are scary and are aimed at literally taxing the hell out of private autos so that owning one would become completely unaffordable to the general population.
While the Honolulu Advertiser reporter, Jerry Burris, states that to be fair mass transit must be in place first, his goal is to give a template to the pro-rail activists which they can follow to force expensive rail projects to be built.
Nowhere in the article does Mr. Burris state that Honolulu's mass transit system should improve its operations and become more efficient. Nor does Mr. Burris state that mass transit has limitations that just can't be solved. What he does state, more or less, is that the pro-rail supporters have to step it up a notch. In other words, push harder to get rail built.
The problem with Mr. Burris' template is that it just won't work. Simply building transit projects such as LRT or BRT will not get people to switch even if you tax every aspect of car ownership to the max. People will ride transit if it is convenient and takes them where they want to go without a lot of fuss. Often times, what is a 15 minute car ride translates to a 2 hour plus transit trip with multiple transfers. Try hauling a bunch of kids with a few hundred dollars of shopping on a two hour bus ride in crowded conditions. It's obvious to me that Mr. Burris never has.
Mr. Burris also fails to understand that if you get people to give up their cars and on board public transit, you also give up your revenue stream. Less cars entering the city means less in congestion taxes, parking taxes and other taxes that have been levied on the concept of private auto ownership. With reduced revenues, the translation becomes route cuts and fare hikes which then will start the downward spiral that so many transit systems are in today.
I am a transit advocate but I am also well aware that transit has problems that will never be solved. Getting from point A to point B isn't simple on transit and that fact seems lost on many transit advocates. Many transit advocates these days feel that all you have to do build just one more expensive transit project and everyone will suddenly abandon their cars. Where I live, we've had many expensive transit projects built and I'm still waiting for the massive influx of new riders.
The best that can be hoped for is to attract as many choice riders as you can through focusing on the basics of providing service. That point is also lost on the majority of the transit advocates. Your never going to get a 50% share of choice riders, yet alone the much higher percentage they seem to think they'll get even with the coercive tactics suggested in the the article.
Simply building rail lines and marketing the system isn't going to get people to switch. Even taxing the car owners to the point of abandoning their cars won't do it (most will simply move to greener pastures where their money is treated better). The reason these methods won't work is that public transit is incapable of handling the diverse number of destinations that people want and need to go in any form of a timely and efficient manner. Expensive transit projects are not the answer nor is trying to force people onto transit through the leftist tactic of taxing something they don't like into oblivion.
While I agree with Mr. Burris that attitudes toward public transit need to be changed, his suggested methods are not the way to do it. Public transit needs to fix what it has in place already and go back to the basics of providing service. They need to stop building expensive transit projects when they can't efficiently run what they have in place already. A system that has good service at a reasonable rate will attract far more riders than a system that is going bankrupt building transit projects that benefit few.