Shorter rail route upsets students
The mayor reiterates transit cost issues at a meeting at UH
Many University of Hawaii students are disappointed that the city put the brakes on the proposed rail transit miles short of the Manoa campus.
"You should really be supporting your primary urban center, the first city of Honolulu," said Michelle Jaffe, a UH urban and regional planning graduate student, at a meeting held at the UH Campus Center ballroom yesterday. "I think it's doing a real disservice for people that live here in town that would really use this, not just to get to work, but for all their daily trips."
But Mayor Mufi Hannemann replied that going to the Manoa campus is still the "ultimate goal," although it may not be fiscally possible at first with his desire to keep costs to about $3 billion.
"I can appreciate your disappointment, but we haven't lost focus on it," Hannemann said before an audience of about 150. "It's there, it's part of the mix, but it's all about money at this point."
The mayor also urged UH-Manoa community members that if they want the rail line, they need to voice their support louder than those who are in opposition.
"So that's why I'm so happy today to see lots of students here, because that's what we need to hear ... that you want this system to come to the University of Hawaii-Manoa," Hannemann said.
He said the original idea of taking the rail route from Kapolei to UH-Manoa will cost more than $3 billion to build. To keep rail opponents at bay, the mayor has said he wants the cost of the first segment of a rail line to stay about $3 billion.
But that will probably mean the route will be shortened, stopping short of the Manoa campus.
The mayor spoke at the seventh public meeting on the city's study of four mass transit alternatives: rail, elevated dedicated toll highway lanes, an enhanced bus system and build no new transit system. The City Council is supposed to pick an alternative, but Hannemann says he favors rail.
Jaffe said she was disappointed hearing that rail may not come to Manoa, and wanted to know why the city is more focused on West Oahu than it is on urban Honolulu.
"You're really focusing on West Oahu or Kapolei, as opposed to focusing on your core and then spreading out from your core," Jaffe said.
Hannah Miyamoto, an engineer and sociology graduate student, suggested that transit figures underestimate university-bound ridership.
Miyamoto said: "The justification of cutting off the line at downtown, running from Kapolei to downtown, is because there's insufficient ridership from downtown to UH-Manoa, according to the studies. However, I calculate out that they're underestimating the numbers on the ... bus service."
Denise Konan, interim UH-Manoa chancellor, said after the meeting: "I think there was a disappointment in that because our students would be the kind of riders that would most benefit from alternative transportation issues."