The insanity drum beat continues over the state’s TAT tax, the amount and its allocation to all the outer islands.
According to TGI article on May 3, we currently receive $14.9 million in TAT revenue and if SB 1183 is passed we will receive $11.6 million or $3.3 less, a huge 22 percent cut!
Year after year our county council has strongly protested that we are not getting our fair share of the TAT tax and I completely agree. And, we are not even getting the money our police officers are receiving from all the traffic violations that they give — money that we tax payers are entitled to.
And what is the state’s rational for wanting to cut our share of the TAT tax even more — to fund a 20-mile, multi-billion dollar rail system that has doubled in price since it was first conceived. And its purpose is to alleviate traffic on Oahu which, after you read the following, is a myth.
Cliff Slater, a former columnist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, wrote an outstanding article in 2004 titled “Congestion, transit barely tie in,” and his words ring just as true today as they did when he wrote his column 13 years ago. Let me quote you a few of his factual-based studies and words:
w “When you look at the evidence you find that improving public transportation has little or nothing to do with relieving traffic congestion. Portland, the poster city for light rail, had an increase of 20,000 transit commuters during the census period 1990-2000 which everyone has applauded as a spectacular performance. However, it also had an increase of 175,000 in the number of car-driving commuters. Since Portland had done little or nothing about increasing road space (having spent the money on light rail) the result was one of the worst increases in traffic congestion in the nation. And yet its public officials still gloat over the ridership increases.”
w “Locally Honolulu’s usage of public transit for commuting has been continuously declining despite the huge subsidies provided—-over $100 million in the current year. Fewer workers today commute by transit than at any time in the last 25 years. 90 percent of all Honolulu vehicular commuters use cars and the other 10 percent use transit. Thus the traffic congestion is about cars—the 90 percent. You cannot improve congestion by toying around with transit, which is only 10 percent of the problem. Given the official estimates of population growth for the next 10 years even if we were able to increase Honolulu’s (OR KAUAI’S ) transit commuters by a highly unlikely 30 percent it would still result in over 20,000 more cars on the road.”
w “It is necessary to recognize that congestion as appalling as that of the Leeward Corridor rush hour is (OR THE KAPAA CORRIDOR!) because road building did not keep pace with population growth.”
Mr. Slater also points to a successful traffic alleviating solution in Tampa, Florida, where they have built an elevated reversible tollway (buses and vans go free) from downtown to the suburbs . There are successful operations going on in the world no matter what the problems are. The point is that we do not have to reinvent the wheel but can take a page out of a successful book and use it on Kauai. We only need the leadership and the will to make it happen and that is up to the people to vote for the right leaders.
Glenn Mickens is a resident of Wailua Homesteads.