As the Nation Turns, Hawaii is Still Driven
by Panos Prevedouros, Fix Oahu November 13, 2014
As the Nation Turns, Hawaii is Still Driven is an comprehensive and detailed article in the November 2014 issue of Hawaii Business Magazine, by Carlyn Tani. I am quoted extensively throughout the article as follows:
“Hawaii’s driving never really went down – it just flattened out and then started going up again as opposed to the mainland, which made a U-turn,” observes Panos Prevedouros, who teaches civil engineering at UH-Manoa and chairs the freeway operations simulation subcommittee of the Transportation Research Board, a division of the National Research Council. He projects that Hawaii’s thriving economy and tourism sector will buoy VMT even higher.
Prevedouros cites three economic forces driving Hawaii’s trend toward more vehicle miles driven per capita: a rebound in tourism, which puts more visitors on the roads; the construction boom on Oahu, which stimulates the transport of people and materials; and the large number of Hawaii residents who hold more than one part-time job and drive between workplaces.
According to Prevedouros, the general tolerance threshold for congestion is 75 minutes for a one-way trip by car. When commute time exceeds that, people are more likely to move, change jobs or relocate to another region or state.
But what does Hawaii’s transportation future look like? Prevedouros predicts that cars will continue to dominate because of the state’s tourism-dependent economy, high private-schools enrollment and large number of people holding more than one job.
“We don’t have mass transit that is flexible and quick enough to take you to drop off your kids or take you to your multiple jobs. You cannot be a resident in Kailua with kids at Punahou and try to do these things by bus,” he explains. “The only mode that can deliver that is private transportation.”
Prevedouros predicts we will see more cars on the road in the future, but says traffic congestion will eventually be reduced by autonomous cars that drive better than people-driven cars, while more energy-efficient cars will ease environmental concerns.