New rail system will be more harm than help

New rail system will be more harm than help

Honolulu Transit website

The expected route and stops for the rail system.

Much debate has revolved around the rail system that is in the process of being built. Though the idea of a rail system seems like a good idea, I don’t see it as something that will benefit Hawaii in the short and long run.

According to the Honolulu Transit website, the rail will run from Kapolei to Ala Moana Shopping Center, a distance of 20 miles, making a total of 21 stops from start to finish. It can be seen as convenient for those who live in the area of the rail, but for those who don’t, it’s more taxes to pay to help the state fund the construction.

In a January 2012 article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, taxes were raised one-half percent in 2007, which includes residents, tourists and businesses alike.

If the tax raise stayed consistent at the one-half percent, the General Excise and Use Tax (GET) will be generating $3.15 billion. The tax raise was implemented on Jan. 1, 2007, and is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2022. So far, $810 million has been collected since the tax raise.

The cost of the rail, according to an October 2011 article in the Star-Advertiser, will cost an estimated $5.17 billion to build, which has gone down from its original $5.5 billion estimate.

However, even with the extra charges and tax raise, the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART) was still looking for funds. In HART’s press release on Feb. 13, President Obama granted them more funds, $250 million to be exact, for the budget in 2013.

Not only will the rail be costly, it will also take years to build the rail, cars, stations and the other necessities to make it all possible.

The money that is also being put into making the rail a success could be used for one important aspect of the state: Hawaii’s public schools. With the Furlough Fridays that are continuing to take place, the entire budget that the rail should actually be given to keep the schools open every day of the week.

An article entitled “Making Tracks Honolulu’s Rail Transit Project” that was featured in the Kapolei Magazine in November 2011, it was stated that the first half of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2015, and it will be completed in its entirety in 2019.

This reason alone can be seen as the major contributing factor as it will serve as a problem in traffic during rush hour. An article in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser entitled “City rail plan is on track, financially sound” estimated that “more than 60 percent of the island’s population and 80 percent of its jobs are located within the rail’s route.”

However, the jobs that happen to be within the vicinity of the rail’s route has commuters from towns just outside of the rail’s endpoints. One place in particular is the entire Waianae Coast.

Residents of Waianae, including myself, will suffer from the rail’s construction as Waianae is just beyond Kapolei. The construction for the rail will also worsen the already horrid traffic conditions commuters face when entering and leaving the coast.

But with all the effort going into the rail system to try and alleviate the islands traffic years down the road, the state should focus on relieve the traffic problem now. If the state cannot aliviate the traffic now, how will the rail make any difference in the future?

The rail will only worsen the traffic in Hawaii as well as not benefiting the entire state of Hawaii, let alone the island of Oahu.