Kapolei meeting evokes support for rail, fear of cost
Most West Oahu residents attending last night's transit meeting in Kapolei supported a rail transit system, though a large group of people was opposed.
"As you know we're in the okole of the traffic," said Polly Grace from Waianae, who supports a rail system from Kapolei to Waikiki, "where all the workers go every day."
"Let's not stay prehistoric, but move with technology for the betterment of society," she said. "You stop this, you delay this means to stop growth in Hawaii."
Dozens stood in line to testify at last night's City Council Transportation and Planning Committee's public meeting to discuss mass transit alternatives. It was the second in a series this month after the committee came out in support of rail.
Unlike the first meeting held Monday at McKinley High School, where most opposed the billion-dollar price tags of the fixed-guideway systems, most at last night's meeting favored a rail system, though they differed on how long the route should be. Many wanted the full 28-mile route.
Yi-Lin Lee, 33, a bus rider from Kapolei, argued, "The price tag of sitting in traffic, for pollution cleanup, health problems, lost time at work due to traffic, the cost of accidents on the road" far outweighs the price of rail.
"This costs more than any expenses associated with light rail," he said. Dan Mita, who identified himself as a senior citizen of Kapolei, said, "The rail is the only real people-moving system."
Aiea resident Leonard Morton, 73, who supports rail, testified, "Do not delay. Actions by a previous council already have cost us money."
Matt Malinowski said, "I'm both for and against (rail). I suggest we work with a small modular approach so that we don't wait 20 to 30 years to get this thing set up.
Many objected to arguments from residents who say they won't benefit from the proposed rail system between Kapolei and downtown or Manoa.
"It is an insult to hear from those who do not live on the west side," said community activist Maeda Timson, who supports a rail alternative. "We on the west side take all of the island's ills."
Theresia C. McMurdo, president of West Oahu Economic Development Association, testified in support of a full rail route from West Kapolei to University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"Our businesses operate in the state's fastest growing region -- an area designated for future commercial growth and job growth," she said.
Other area residents opposed the rail system because of the high price tags.
Michael Simpson of Wai- anae said at the end of 20 years it's going to cost $10 billion and that in cities with rail transit, property taxes are 9 percent to 11 percent. "How can people afford to pay $6 or $7 to go into town every day? ... Put it to the people to a vote."
Bernice Silva of Kapolei objected to rail, saying, "We live in mountains. It's not convenient to go by bus to get to a rail station.
"I'm for the elevated toll (road)," she said.