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Marx: The real reason for mass transit

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Bob Marx | Second District Congressional candidate

I’ve been asked before how a rail advocate like me can be against the proposed HART project. Let me make this clear: I am an ardent supporter of mass transit systems.

April 4 marks the 45th anniversary of the Reverend Martin Luther King’s speech denouncing the war in Vietnam and standing up for the poor. In this spirit, thousands of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) supporters and working people across the country stood up to have their voices heard.

I commend the efforts of the folks out there on the streets in their own communities demanding that federal cuts to public transportation be stopped.

The bitter reality is that the proposed GOP budget and cuts nationwide to mass transit systems make it highly unlikely that Hawaii will receive the $1.5 billion in federal subsidies that Honolulu is relying on to fund the steel-on-steel elevated rail program.

I cannot support a project that does not produce enough local jobs for the people of Hawaii nor benefit the people of my district. We are not supporting our local economy (or even the American economy) by outsourcing $1.4 billion in construction and maintenance of the trains to an Italian-owned business venture with questionable success rates.

And writing the bill off on future generations or people in rural Oahu who won’t have direct access to the system is not right either.

To me, public transportation — like health care — should be a universal right for all our citizens. Dr. King knew this to be true. As this historic day draws to a close, we must be reminded that the main goal of public transportations should not be to alleviate traffic for weekday shoppers and sports fans, but to help those struggling to find work, or those paying $25 a day on gasoline and maintenance for their 40 mile commutes.

Dr. King called “urban transportation a true genuine civil right” and with ever-rising gas prices, we must make every effort to help those in the most need. The hard working people on the Waianae Coast — many struggling now just to get by — should be the first with access to a modern rail system.

As the cost of living has steadily risen in the last decade, folks on the Makaha Valley have lost over 22 percent of their income. A modern, grounded maglev train from the Makaha through Nanakuli to Ewa beach can help those that need it the most, and at a fraction of the cost.

If the main goal of the Honolulu Area Rapid Transit (HART) is merely to alleviate traffic congestion in downtown Honolulu, I believe there are easier ways.

It’s less than a quarter-mile from Hickam Air Force Base to Iroquois Point; a bridge (or tunnel if that better suits the Navy) would greatly alleviate traffic in downtown and provide an alternate route to the leeward side of Oahu and beyond.

It would help everyone from Ewa Beach to Waianae to the commuters going west to east in the evenings.

Marx practices law in Hilo and is a candidate for Congress in the Second District.

One Response to “Marx: The real reason for mass transit”

  1. Gerald DeOreo says:

    Mr. Marx makes some very valid and common sense set of statements here.

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