Archive for April, 2009

Traffic solution - no insurance, no gas

April 26th, 2009
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Here's a great traffic idea that reader Bill Haig suggested to me today in response to my column on coordinated traffic signals:

No insurance, no gas is such a simple idea and tech workable with a little effort from the gas retailers  and insurance companies serving Hawaii.  It must be a total commitment as well.  Hawaii could lead the nation in this.

Having worked with TheBus in another life handling marketing duties, and knowing a bit about traffic in Hawaii, I would like to propose more low hanging fruit to reduce our traffic problem.  Get uninsured cars off the road.  The way you do this is to require auto insurance at the pump.  No insurance, no gas. All insurance companies would provide a mag-strip plastic card which would be inserted into the credit card mechanism at the pump.  If the person has up-to-date auto insurance, the next step is allowed to pump gas by credit card or cash at the cashier booth.  I call it the COSTCO model.

The insurance commission estimates there are up to 20% of the cars on Hawaii roads daily which are not insured.  An advertiser article recently said this is going up in our down economy.  Okay, let’s say only 10% of our 600,000 registered cars are taken off the road with this simple no insurance, no gas plan.  That’s twice the number of cars the rail will take off (34,000 at last estimates.)  Oh, we currently pay for these uninsured drivers in our insurance.  That addition cost to our yearly bill drops too.

I tried this year to no avail to get no insurance, no gas passed in the legislature making it mandatory that insurance companies and oil companies do their part.

Bill Haig, Ph.D.

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Comments on the Superferry Column

April 5th, 2009
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Lots of comments on my column in today’s Advertiser, in the paper and offline. Here are some of my favorites from both sides of the isle:

· Thank you for writing the fairest and most courageous article on the saga of Superferry.  It mystifies me to this day, how Superferry became a punching bag and meta-villain to the entities that should have embraced it most as an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative.

· I hope I am wrong in predicting that the legislature's next excuse for inaction will be "it's too late anyway" which will be yet another self-fulfilling prophecy, but this time with potentially disastrous knock-on effect as Mike Lilly has so eloquently noted.  Transit will likely be the next victim - but somehow, the ferry's opponents will carry on, continuing the two-speed system of islanders serving wealthy immigrants as enabled by our two-speed education system.

· I hope that Neil Abercrombie, as governor, can somehow bridge the state back into having a functioning representative democracy again;  For today, it surely is not - and that, in itself, is increasingly unsustainable.

· It's not so bad having people come from other places. This is what makes Hawaii so special. The problem is when people come to visit and want to control, and own everything. Then you have problems like the Superferry.

· Face it, we were Guinea Pigs, they are done with the experiment. It is gone. If it comes back it will be in a military capacity.

· The damage done to our Business Image/Climate was all preventable by Lingle. She could of [sic] demanded a reasonable ferry that would really serve the needs of the people, she is the one who let us down.

· If the Hawaii Supreme Court had not shut them down first, they would inevitably have shut down or come to rely, as long suspected, on interisland military transport contracts.

· Great article, Jay. I don't think concern for the environment was the reason those folks opposing the ferry. The environmental issues were a front for more personal motives. Is there a place where I could find a list of politicians who opposed or were indifferent to the ferry? This is something I want to take into consideration the next time I vote. If all things are equal, I'm voting for the person who supported the ferry.

· A little "roadblock", eh? Lawsuits hanging over the company's head since it started, two major decisions by the supreme court that shutdown its operation, threats to passengers and workers from protestors. . . and you wonder why, in the first year of operation, passenger counts were on the low side? Even in the best of circumstances it takes time for an operation to ramp up. Businesses in particular want to wait on the sidelines until they are comfortable that the service is reliable. And they need to adapt their business as well. We'll never know if the ferry would have been successful - it had one arm tied behind its back. And at the same time, getting smacked in the head repeatedly.

· My compliments on your Think Tech article on the Superferry. I share your sentiments. Never did get a chance to go to Maui on the Superferry but I wanted to. Friends and family who did make the Superferry voyage were pleased with the service, accommodations and efficiency even during rough seas. Both of my grandmothers were born in Hawaii. I've lived here all my life and have become part of the silent majority. Almost 30 years ago, I pushed my children to educational institutions away from Hawaii. At the time, I felt opportunities were limited. Today, I see the same limitations for our young people including my grandchildren (3) who live here. We fret and form business councils when the economy goes down and very little is accomplished. When the economy improves, we enjoy the good times and most things end up on the back burner with the attitude of why fix something that's not broken. It's a cycle to be repeated (again).

· Forty years ago while supporting the Sierra club I found that I was being double-crossed. after looking closely and discovering their hidden agenda, I found that they were far more focused on big headlines in the news media and fund-raising than any environmental issues. They attack the highest-profile targets regardless of their viability.  So the loudmouth minority has once again won against the vast silent majority and shut down the Superferry. I sincerely hope that the donors to the Sierra Club will seriously consider sending another check or at least restricting its use.

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