Short rail system to cost $4.2B
The 20-mile route's price includes bus costs, a report says
Total costs of the 20-mile rail-transit system, including bus costs, would be $4.2 billion, according to the alternative analysis report released Monday by Mayor Mufi Hannemann.
The report, which took one year to complete at a cost of $10 million, looked at four alternatives for addressing Honolulu's traffic problems. The plans favored by Hannemann would be to build either the full 28-mile route or the 20-mile plan.
The report now goes to the City Council, which must pick one of the four alternatives by the end of the year.
The additional costs, according to the report, are for the capital costs including expanded bus systems.
Full costs for the whole 28-mile route would be between $5.2 billion and $6.1 billion, according to the report.
Of that, the rail-transit portion would be between $4.6 billion and $5.5 billion.
The less-expensive plan would be the $4.2 billion plan, which has $3.6 billion as the costs for the rail-transit system.
Annual operating costs for the city's bus and rail-transit system would range between $248 million and $256 million, according to the report, which was prepared by a 50-person team of city engineers and the consulting firm Parsons Brinckerhoff.
The federal government paid for $8 million of the $10 million report, according to Bill Brennan, Hannemann's spokesperson.
As to the cost for the project, Brennan objected to reports that Hannemann had first said in September that the transit system would cost $3 billion.
"The mayor didn't project a $3 billion cost," Brennan said. "What the mayor said he would like the consultants in their analysis to provide for is a system that came in around $3 billion.
"There were no cost projections before yesterday. He asked for something that came in around the $3 billion range," he said.
Hannemann said in September: "I am insisting at this point that we build a basic no-frills system, and I want the cost to come in around $3 billion because there are those who are opposed to this project that are trying to make an issue of the cost of this rail system."
GETTING FROM HERE TO THERE
Here are the types of transit options the city transit study examined:
» The no-build alternative, which would essentially continue with the current city transit system through 2030.
» Transportation system management: improved bus system, expanded the Zipper lane hours and roadway improvements to give priority to buses.
» The managed-lane alternative: building a two-lane highway viaduct as a toll road between Waipahu and downtown.
» The rail transit system.
-- Star-Bulletin staff
Also yesterday, Gov. Linda Lingle reacted to the $3.6 billion rail-transit proposal, saying the state administration and Legislature would not be sympathetic to any more city requests for tax increases.
"It is obvious that any substantial increase in the cost of rail will impact whether they can move forward," Lingle said.
Lingle said once the Council makes a decision on which alternative to build, she would "try to attract the maximum amount of federal funds."
The state, Lingle said, is ready to start collecting the increased general excise tax, which will go to 4.5 percent from 4 percent starting Jan. 1, 2007.
The study also addresses the issue of ridership and whether any transit system would attract more public transit users.
The no-build alternative, which would essentially continue with the present city transit system through 2030, "is forecast to have the lowest ridership of any of the alternatives," the report stated.
Transit ridership for the transportation system management -- improved bus system, expanded Zipper lane hours, and roadway improvements to give priority to buses -- is expected to increase by 4.7 percent over the no-build alternative, according to the report.
The managed-lane alternative -- building a two-lane highway viaduct as a toll road between Waipahu and downtown -- would increase ridership by 5.3 percent to 6.4 percent more than the no-build alternative.
The rail-transit system as originally proposed would increase ridership by between 24 percent and 27 percent over the no-build alternative. The 20-mile rail transit system is estimated to increase ridership by 21 percent, according to the report.
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes contributed to this report.