How much has been spent on planning, engineering and promoting Honolulu’s rail to date? What are the sources of the money and who
got it? Normally this information should be at city’s HonoluluTransit.org
website but not for Honolulu. We only
know bits and pieces as reported in newspapers that did Freedom of Information
Who decided and why to let contracts out for a system that has not cleared the environmental process and is therefore illegal to build?
How much corruption is enough? How can contracts be written and signed while
Final Design is neither complete nor approved by the FTA? These contracts were
written and signed by past mayor Mufi Hannemann while Peter Carlisle was city
Peter Carlisle, who is not satisfied with a six billion dollar rail from Waipahu to Ala Moana Center declared he wants a 30 billion
dollar rail from Waianae to Hawaii Kai and through the Koolaus. In the same
breath he talked about fiscal restraints. I guess six billion of our taxes are
not enough, plus 4.7 billion for sewers and secondary treatment (that’s a
consent decree; not optional) plus billions more for water main repairs, road
repairs and city park maintenance. It
all comes to a grand total of about 15 billion dollars. For reference, the H-3
freeway would cost under two billion dollars in today’s rates.
Politicians like Carlisle are oblivious of twenty years of corruption and mismanagement of city assets. For better or worse, the buck has
stopped and the bills are in the billions. Only an engineer can manage our
fiscal and infrastructural calamity with transparency and accountability.
There is no accountability to rail at any level. The city’s own Final EIS says that rail will remove 40,000 car trips in 2030 … out of 4
million trips we do on Oahu per day. So rail is the 1% solution. We are being asked
to pay six billion dollars for a 1% reduction in car trips. That’s the result of
the city’s pie-in-the-sky forecast for 132,000 rail passengers per day. If we
look at five popular light rail systems done in the last 10 years in the US,
none of them carries more than 38,000 riders in cities with over 3 million residents!
Here is an example of accountability, or luck thereof, in rail systems.
Tren Urbano of San Juan, Puerto Rico is a perfect comparison with Oahu because Tren Urbano is heavy rail like Oahu, it is on an island like
Oahu, it is planned by the same consultant as for Oahu’s rail, it had the same
Federal Transit Administration oversight as Oahu’s rail, and it opened about
five years ago.
The consultant estimated a cost of $1.25 billion. FTA approved it. The actual cost was $2.25 billion. Nearly double! Nobody was
punished. Quite the opposite, the consultants with the wrong estimates made
The consultant also estimated 80,000 riders. FTA approved it. The actual ridership was under 25,000 and for many months they had to run
the trains for free. Now after five years it carries 38,700 daily riders. Not
even half of the original forecast! San Juan has over 3 million residents.
So far Honolulu has spent over $200 million dollars for paperwork. Both California and Florida
have delivered over 10 miles of congestion free roadways for under $300 million
including the paperwork in the last five years. Where are the other mayor
candidates? Right there in city government spending hundreds of millions of tax
monies for nothing of benefit to Honolulu’s citizens and visitors.
No wonder transparency and accountability is the last thing they do.