Hawaiians Know: Friends Don’t Let Friends Listen To Randal O’Toole

Young people stand up for Honolulu rail in front of an anti-transit forum featuring Randal O'Toole.

There are few things we enjoy more than a good smack-down of the anti-transit faux libertarian Randal O’Toole, except perhaps a good show of people power in support of sustainable transportation. Luckily, a new post from Network blog Say Yes to the Honolulu Rail System has both:

The Hawaii News Now report on last night’s anti-rail forum with four nationally known anti-mass transit activists summed up the event pretty well:

“PowerPoint presentations were no match tonight for good old-fashioned chanting. On one side, a panel of rail critics with their charts and graphs. On the other, west side families who say, ‘Enough talk already. Let’s get this train built!’”

According to author Doug Carlson, the pro-transit activists were able to overcome the sprawl-boosters’ slideshows not only through the strength of their organizing, but by demolishing their opponents’ arguments:

Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute flooded the audience with statistics to “prove” transit is failing to attract riders even as cities grow. For example, he said the population in Atlanta, GA has doubled since the 1980s, yet transit’s share of trips taken by residents has fallen by half.

That’s it – no further explanation required, Mr. O’Toole reasons, yet that’s exactly the result you’d expect when suburbs are built that require continued dependence on America’s car culture for mobility.

Oahu’s population growth is being channeled to west Oahu, a region bordered by mountains and an ocean, unlike Atlanta and Houston and other mainland cities mentioned in the visitors’ statistical presentations. Left unaddressed by these highway advocates is Honolulu’s unique long and lean layout that transit experts for decades have said is ideal for a rail transit system.

The rail project is expected to be a top issue in Honolulu’s mayoral election this fall.

Elsewhere on the Network: Seattle Bike Blog rounds up the street safety legislative agenda in Olympia. Reno Rambler looks back at the hyperbolic bike safety public service announcements of the 1940s. And Stop and Move offers extremely good news to urbanists everywhere: Sim City 5 is coming out next year.