Do we need it, can we afford it, can we maintain it?
— Mufi Hanneman’s campaign slogan 2004
Numbers on rail just don’t work out
Janet Jensen, CPA in Honolulu, Honolulu Star Bulletin, 8/23/08
“Like most Hawaii residents, I would like to see a mass transit system but it needs to make economic sense. The current $3.7 billion budget for rail is based on 2006 dollars. If we assume a 5 percent inflation rate, it will cost $6.6 billion in 2018 when it might be completed. For our population of 900,000, that averages $7,383 in additional taxes for every man, woman and child on Oahu. Or put another way, $36,915 for a family of five.
“Charlotte constructed a light rail system for $462.7 million. The state and federal government paid 75 percent of the cost, with a net cost to the 1.7 million residents of $68. Our system is budgeted (no cost overruns) at 108 times the per resident cost of the Charlotte system.
“If the system is financed through city bonds at 5 percent interest over a 15-year period, the monthly payment would be $52 million. If we assume 13,000 riders a day, it would result in a cost of $133 per trip just to pay the debt service, then there are the operating costs, security, fuel and other costs.
“The numbers just don't make economic sense.”
What is the Matrix?”
“The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”