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            Mayor Mufi Hannemann said a groundbreaking new study released today by the Brookings Institution underscores how important rail mass transit is to Honolulu’s future.


            The independent research organization based in Washington DC evaluated 100 metropolitan areas, ranked Honolulu as the US city with the lowest level of carbon dioxide pollution per resident, and found that cities with well-developed rail mass transit systems and densely populated urban cores have far smaller “carbon footprints” per capita than sprawling metropolitan areas dependent on private vehicles.


            “This important study makes it clear that we are moving down the right path with our rail transit project,” Mayor Hannemann said. “It’s the right thing to do for the environment and for our future. I’m very pleased with the study’s findings, but we will not be content to rest on our laurels.”


            The rail system’s main 20-mile line will run from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center, with a 2-mile spur to Honolulu International Airport. Additions would link to West Kapolei, Waikiki, and the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Hannemann intends to break ground on the project next year.


            The Brookings study found that “Many metro areas with small per capita carbon footprints also have sizable rail transit ridership … with carbon footprints ranging from 1.5 to 2.0 tons of carbon per capita – much lower than the average of 2.2 tons for all 100 metro areas.”


            Among the report’s recommendations to the federal government is to “Promote more transportation choices to expand transit and compact development options.”


The report noted that Transit-Oriented Development “represents an important tool for shrinking carbon footprints by reducing vehicle miles of travel and associated fuel use.”


Mayor Hannemann noted that such development is an integral part of Honolulu’s rail transit project, which provides opportunities for new housing, commercial space and public facilities along the rail line.


The federal government should not favor highways over mass transit, the study recommends. It called for the US Department of Transportation to “subject proposals for highway projects to the same level of scrutiny as it does transit project proposals.”


“Although economic and fiscal considerations are key criteria for evaluating projects, so too should environmental quality and energy efficiency,” the study found.


Mayor Hannemann noted that City recently launched a $370,000 update of its Bicycle Master Plan.


“This will take us a step closer to fulfilling my long-standing quality-of-life goal of laying the groundwork for the integration of bicycling into our multi-modal transportation system, which includes the rail system, TheBus, TheBoat, and other means of movement—and ultimately into the development of communities that will emerge around the transit stations,” the Mayor said.


            Carbon dioxide is the most common greenhouse gas, and leading scientists believe it is contributing to global warming that could threaten the earth’s future. The Brookings study found that top factors contributing to higher carbon footprints included greater vehicle miles traveled, lower-cost electricity from coal-burning power plants, and variable weather patterns that produce higher demand for home heating and cooling.


The study evaluated pollution generated by residential structures and highway traffic in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. Honolulu’s carbon emissions were 1.3 metric tons per person, compared to 3.4 metric tons in Lexington, Ky., which rated worst.


The 10 cities with the smallest carbon footprints per capita, in ranked order, were:


1. Honolulu

2. Los Angeles

3. Portland, Ore.

4. New York

5. Boise, Idaho

6. Seattle

7. San Jose

8. San Francisco

9. El Paso, Texas

10. San Diego


Contact: Bill Brennan, 527-6928

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

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