Honolulu Rail Transit Is Not A Solution


Traffic in town at 7A.M.

From my home in Kalihi to Chaminade’s campus, a mere 6.2 miles away, it can take almost an hour to navigate on the H1 Freeway during weekday mornings. On Friday evenings, when I get out of class at 6 p.m., it can sometimes take up to 90 minutes to get home.

I am all for solutions to the traffic headache that we all experience here on Oahu. But the rail will not eliminate our traffic problem.

The Honolulu Rail Transit is a horribly planned project with costs that is skyrocketing over the budget. It’s planning is irresponsibly done having an original budget of $5.2 billion and added $500 million to $750 million more in cost to cover additional expenses.

Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation, HART, is the company that is responsible for the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of the rail transit. According to HART, its money problems stem from some poorly estimated tax projections which is $41 million below than what was expected, a payment of $190 million that HART paid in delay costs, and contracts that are projecting to be over the budget.

HART claims that the rail transit will help make a difference in traffic congestion in Oahu by eliminating an estimated 40,000 cars from our congested streets and highways. But, the numbers don’t seem much given that HART can only provide four park-and-ride lots that will have a total of 4,100 parking spaces. Available parking space is not a guarantee, therefore people will not be moved into taking the rail over driving to work.

Although 40,000 seems like an impressive number, according to studies, the rail will only reduce traffic by 2 percent. It’s only benefiting the everyday commuters who live on West Oahu that commute to town for work or school. The rail costs about $5.2 billion and the amount of ridership will not cover this expense. It is so bad that taxpayers are paying for this transit where it only runs 20 miles and does not benefit everyone.

It was said in the beginning that the rail project will be great for our economy because it was expected to give 10,000 jobs to locals. We’ve done our part to give a part of our own tax money to fund this rail but the rail, isn’t holding up to its end of the bargain.

The Honolulu Rail Transit has a number of 1,300 people working on the rail project right now and HART says that 70 percent of them are local. The high hopes that we had for the rail’s support in improving our economy by giving 10,000 jobs are gradually diminishing.

Speaking about jobs, business owners of 225 properties will be affected by the project. HART is causing business owners the stress of relocating because they are located along the rail route. HART says that it has a budget that will help businesses in covering moving and advertising costs, but this whole process is time consuming, and many business owners are not happy with it. Relocating a business might jeopardize the number of customers a business had prior to relocation

The Honolulu Rail Transit is just a stretch in improving our traffic congestion on Oahu. It makes no sense that people will spend time driving their car to the transit stations, look for parking (if there are any parking spaces left) then take the transit, only to transfer over to The Bus, thus dealing with stops and even more delay until arriving to their exact destinations. With all of this, traffic will only get worse along the areas near rail stations.

People are not going to use the rail if it requires too much effort just to arrive at rail stations. An increase in ridership for the rail will only happen if people are willing to change their daily routines of driving to work for the reason that gas prices are getting ridiculously high or somehow they’ve gain an insight on going green.