Honolulu experiences some of the worst traffic congestion in the United States. Despite approved Federal funding for a new rail transit line, the community was not unified in how to approach substantial mobility, housing, and environmental challenges in Honolulu and Oahu. Various interest groups brought very different perspectives on challenges and how to address them. The island and its communities needed more information about the real impacts rail investment and land use options would have on their island. Faced with increasing auto-dependency, climate change impacts, energy supply and cost challenges, and critical housing supply and affordability issues, the community needed a solution to accommodate growth, diversify its public transit options, and address these critical challenges.
Calthorpe Analytics worked with the Pacific Resource Partnership to study transit-oriented development (TOD) potential along Honolulu’s planned rail transit corridor. The RapidFire and UrbanFootprint models were deployed to produced multiple scenarios and model the corridor and island-wide impacts of varying levels of TOD and transit investment on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. Model outputs included energy and water impacts, land conservation metrics, transportation impacts, greenhouse gas emissions, fiscal impacts to cities, household cost burdens, housing mix, and affordability. The project also included an implementation and policy framework for TOD, which could serve as a roadmap for developing support for and implementing successful TOD in Oahu.
The findings of the scenario modeling clearly illustrated the opportunities rail investment and TOD presented for the island of Oahu. The “business as usual” growth scenario would consume three times the land and consume far more resources than transit corridor-focused options. In the end, the scenarios process demonstrated that fostering walkable communities around transit was good for public health, and an essential element in preserving a healthy environment for future generations to enjoy.