I’m sure lots of people picture themselves riding Honolulu’s rail system, coasting on those elevated tracks above the traffic snarl below, while catching up with reading or getting a little work done on a laptop during the commute into downtown Honolulu from the west side.
Well, a story by Mark Abramson in the current issue of Pacific Business News suggests that scenario isn’t accurate.
According to PBN, Honolulu’s two-car trains are designed to carry up to 350 passengers during peak periods.
Each car will have seating for a maximum of 38 people, apparently meaning there will be seating 76 out of the maximum 350 passengers on the two cars. But the seats are designed so that they can be retracted and folded away.
And here’s the catch–to carry their maximum load during peak commuter hours, many of those seats will have to be taken out of use. That’s right. The more passengers are expected, the less seating will be provided.
“It’s a newer design and different seat configuration,” said HART spokesman Scott Ishikawa. “BART, they are older cars. These Honolulu cars are going to be much newer in design, and because of [fewer] seats there will be a lot more people standing.”
I’m perhaps reading between the lines here, but Honolulu’s projected ridership numbers–the numbers that appear to show that enough people will ride the rails to pay for the system–appear to depend on the standing room only strategy.
I wonder if those surveys asking whether people are likely to use rail would get different results if the question included the information that most commuters will have to stand (over 80% will be standing, although the exact numbers weren’t provided in this PBN story) .
Fewer seats and “more people standing” is considered a new and improved design? That’s a line made up by someone who doesn’t make much use of public transportation, I would guess.