If you live somewhere such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston … well, almost any U.S. metropolitan area, you put up with horrendous traffic.
Those of us who live in Hawaii bitch about the traffic all the time, too.
This is not a “commuter” place. We have a pretty-good bus system on Oahu, but that’s about it. For those of us who drive, there’s a freeway system on Oahu, and it’s free. No tolls. Between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., it’s easy going. We start early here. Heavy rush hour begins at 5:30 a.m. and lasts until 9:00 a.m.; begins again at 3:30 p.m. and lasts until 6:30 p.m., and it’s a hassle both ways. When there’s a big event at Aloha Stadium or in Waikiki, traffic is both chaotic and slow.
If you are a visitor with a rent-a-car, Waikiki is all one-way streets and there are frequent events that create changes and detours.
On the outer islands, there aren’t many roads, but the populations of all the islands are growing and the populous areas are nothing but traffic snarls, with insufficient roadways and inadequate control. Even on Oahu, the western part of the island is usually a mess. A $3.7-billion elevated rail system has been approved to help alleviate that problem, but infighting continues in order to determine the type of system that will be implemented – steel wheels on steel rails, rubber tires on concrete, magnetic levitation or monorail. The committee that was set up to make a recommendation has gone for steel and steel, but now the decision falls into the hands of the municipal politicians, and that’s always fun. Some of them, along with a public groundswell, are trying to kill the whole caboodle by having it placed on the ballot this fall.
Drivers, you will find, are a little strange here. We slow down to let people into the lanes ahead of us, even on freeways. We wave thanks when granted that courtesy. Slow drivers hang in the left lanes – presumably because they perceive less traffic there since no one is ahead of them. No one signals a left-hand turn … until actually making the turn. Most of us have no idea how to enter a highway from an on-ramp. We stop, then have no way to regain merging speed.
In shopping centers, no one is polite. There’s no aloha. Most of the stalls are too small to accommodate SUV’s, which it seems most of us drive. We get a lot of door-dinging here.
Urban parking is impossible just about everywhere, just as it is where you live or work. And it’s expensive. Residents pay an average of $250 a month to park in business districts. One-day parking can cost up to $50. When the cost of parking is compared among U.S. cities, Honolulu consistently ranks among the top five.
We have no all-news radio stations here. A couple of stations will report major traffic problems when they occur outside of rush hours, but their listenership is very low at those times.
On the outer islands, we drive long ways to get to work because we like where we live. On the Big Island of Hawaii, most of the jobs are on the Kona (west) coast because of the visitor industry there. Hotel workers who live on the more-populated Hilo (east) side think nothing of driving from their side of the island to the other side and back every day, which can take three or four hours.
The windward side of Oahu embraces bedroom communities whose residents use two highways (the Pali and the Likilike) that cut through the Koolau mountains to Honolulu. When there’s an incident in or near one of the tunnels in either direction, traffic stops. Period. Landslides and flooding take their tolls, as well, and they occur pretty regularly.
In Waikiki, you can stay at your hotel, walk to most of the Waikiki attractions, take busses to the shopping centers and outlying restaurants, and use cabs when you need to. When you rent a car, you join the melee and become one of us. It’ll feel like home, wherever you live.
If you’re considering a vacation in Hawaii because you want to get away from everyday hassles such as traffic, you may want to consider one of the outer islands (Hawaii, Kauai, Maui, Molokai or Lanai). Talk to us. Pick an agent at our website (hawaii-aloha.com) or call 1-800-843-8771. You’ll wind up with exactly the vacation you’re looking for.
Posted by: Jamie Winpenny on Jul 18, 2008