Stay committed to rail transit system
A City Council committee has agreed upon steel rail for Honolulu's rapid-transit system.
To no one's surprise, a City Council committee has endorsed steel rail as the technology for Honolulu's rapid-transit system, accepting the recommendation of a panel of experts and reflecting Mayor Mufi Hannemann's desire. Although initial costs will be high, rail is the most sensible method of avoiding an endless life of the surcharge on the general excise tax used to help pay for it.
The Council's Transportation Committee voted in favor of steel wheels on steel rail by a 4-1 vote, the same score registered by the expert panel a week earlier. The consensus appears to be that while such a system will be more expensive to construct, operational costs will be less than the other options -- a rubber-tire bus system on concrete, monorail or magnetic levitation.
Toru Hamayasu, the city's chief transportation planner, estimates the construction cost will be as much as $3.8 billion, although inflation and interest could raise the amount closer to $5 billion. Senate President Colleen Hanabusa warns that construction costs are "always dwarfed by the operation and maintenance of a steel system," but Ron Tober, the expert panel's chairman, said the steel system "will save you all money in the long run."
Some concerns have been expressed about noise and potential rusting. However, the system should not run through residential neighborhoods and we presume that technology has improved since Aloha Stadium began rusting the day after it was built.
The entire Council should act at the earliest in mid-April to approve the technology so the state's congressional delegation can continue efforts to gain federal funding for the project. The Council must maintain the city's commitment to the project.
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