DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
City Councilmen Romy Cachola, left, and Donovan Dela Cruz listened during yesterday's rail transit meeting.
Council fails to pick mass-transit gear
Stalemate leaves transit pick to mayor
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"The Council is a mess," lamented Councilman Gary Okino.
His remark came last night as the City Council deadlocked once again on a decision over which technology to employ for the planned mass-transit system.
The outcome for now leaves the decision with Mayor Mufi Hannemann, a steel-rail proponent who vowed to veto any bill designating an alternative technology.
Councilmen Okino, Todd Apo, Nestor Garcia and Rod Tam argue that steel-rail trains would be less expensive to operate and more reliable. Their Council colleagues Ann Kobayashi and Donovan Dela Cruz favor a rubber-tire bus system, saying it will be quieter and less costly to build.
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DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
City Transportation Director Wayne Yoshioka conferred with city lawyer Donna Woo yesterday.
The City Council deadlocked again last night and failed to make a decision on the technology of the city's $3.7 billion mass-transit system, essentially allowing Mayor Mufi Hannemann to move forward with his choice of steel wheels on steel rail.
With more than four hours of discussion that included extensive public testimony, the outcome of the meeting had little significance because Hannemann vowed to veto any measure that selected any other technology.
Councilmembers were expecting and hoping their chairwoman, Barbara Marshall, would attend yesterday's meeting to break the deadlock vote that crippled the Council last week. Her flight landed yesterday afternoon, but Marshall did not attend the meeting, which lasted until after 7 p.m.
Last week, with the absence of Marshall because of a family emergency, the Council tied 4-4 several times when voting on technology. The City Council rejected a bill last week that included three technologies for the city's $3.7 billion mass transit system.
That decision still stands after the Council failed to reconsider the same bill in a meeting Wednesday night.
"The Council is a mess," said Councilman Gary Okino, who has pushed aggressively for steel rail. "If us giving up our right to select technology will get us to the right decision, then I'm fine with it. I don't see how anyone can argue against steel on steel."
The Council has been debating the mass-transit system's technology for the past several months. In February a panel of experts -- proposed by Hannemann and approved by the Council -- selected steel rail as the technology over monorail, magnetic levitation and a rubber-tire bus.
Steel-rail proponents -- including Councilmen Okino, Todd Apo, Nestor Garcia and Rod Tam -- argue that this technology would be less costly in long-term operational costs, gives the city a greater advantage when seeking bids from more available vendors and is a proven system.
Other councilmembers, Ann Kobayashi and Donovan Dela Cruz, favor a rubber-tire bus system, saying it will be quieter and less expensive to build. They will introduce another bill today selecting rubber-tire bus system as the technology. According to a 2006 city ordinance, the City Council has until mid-July -- 90 days after Hannemann told them the technology would be steel rail -- to pass another bill, or else the decision will be left up to the city administration.
"The longer the discussion goes, the more information we get," Dela Cruz said, adding that the Council will still play pivotal roles in funding the project.
And despite last night's lack of consensus, Kobayashi remained firm in not giving up the Council's right to make this crucial decision. "That's why we were elected," she said.
Garcia, chairman of the Transportation Committee, said he is open to hearing another bill on technology selection again.
The only councilmembers who did not publicly voice their technology preference were Marshall and Romy Cachola. Marshall, along with Councilman Charles Djou, has been consistently opposed to this project running from Kapolei to Ala Moana.
Cachola declined to say which technology he preferred.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The City Council rejected a bill last week that included three technologies for the city's $3.7 billion mass transit system. That decision still stands after the Council failed to reconsider the same bill in a meeting Wednesday night. Originally, this article incorrectly said the Council had voted for the bill. A photo caption also incorrectly reported that the city's Director of Transportation Services Wayne Yoshioka testified yesterday.