Vegas, Canada next in rail tour
The mayor and two councilmen continue checking possible models for isle transit
Las Vegas and Vancouver, Canada, are the next stops for Mayor Mufi Hannemann and members of the City Council to inspect rail-transit systems.
Councilmen Todd Apo and Gary Okino are in Las Vegas to examine and ride the 4-mile Las Vegas Monorail line, which links several hotels along the Las Vegas Strip.
"Pretty impressive," Okino said by telephone.
Apo, chairman of the Council Transportation Committee, said the tours will aid the Council in deciding what kind of transit alternative to select for Honolulu at the end of the year.
"It's going to be helpful for our discussions for the next 10 months," said Apo, who also accompanied the mayor to Japan to tour rail systems there.
In the months following the July 2004 opening of the monorail, Las Vegas news reports detailed mechanical failures that shut down the monorail for stretches of time. The reports also focused on lower-than-projected ridership.
What officials learned from the Las Vegas system is that initial problems were not insurmountable, Okino said.
"They have a real well-run system despite the fact they had some problems in the beginning," he said.
Apo noted, "We've got to learn from the mistakes of other places."
Apo and Okino will meet up with Hannemann on Monday in Vancouver to tour the SkyTrain rail system.
Okino, a strong proponent of building rail transit in Honolulu who has also touted the Vancouver rail in the past, said he wants the mayor to see the Vancouver system in detail.
"That's like the model system I'm hoping the city will follow," Okino said.
Once the rail system was built in Vancouver, its popularity grew to where more transit lines were developed, Okino said. He said he is hoping that will happen in Honolulu.
Apo said he would like to see developments sprout up around the rail line in West Oahu, much like the way developments grew in Vancouver.
After leaving Vancouver, Hannemann will attend the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, D.C., and then stop in Las Vegas to tour the monorail on the way back to Hawaii.
The councilmen's trip is being paid for by Bombardier Transportation, which developed the technology for both cities' systems. The total value of the trip is $2,900.
The mayor's costs were unavailable.