Whether the City and County of Honolulu should provide rail service to commuters has been an ongoing issue for decades. The transportation system on the island of Oahu includes the zipper lane, bus rapid transit, traditional roads and highways, and pilot projects like The Boat. Still, Honolulu's traffic remains one of the worst in the Nation.
Rail is again an option being offered to Honolulu commuters. In October 2006 the City evaluated four alternatives to provide high-capacity transit service in the travel corridor between Kapolei and University of Hawaii at Manoa. The City (the council and the mayor) selected a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), which is a fixed-guideway transit system extending from Kapolei to the University of Hawaii at Manoa with a connection to Waikiki.
The City and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Transit Administration (FTA) are currently preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project. The Draft EIS is a prerequisite to receiving FTA funding for the project.
Relevant Statutes and Ordinances
- Resolution 08-166, charter amendment ballot petition language offered by the City as an alternative to Stop Rail Now’s failed Petition 53 (2008).
- Ordinance No. 07-001, states that the locally preferred alternative for the Honolulu high-capacity transit corridor project shall be a fixed guideway system between Kapolei and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- Ordinance No. 05-027, complied with Act 247 and the Honolulu surcharge became effective on January 1, 2007.
- Act 247, Session Laws of Hawaii 2005, authorized the counties to levy, by ordinance adopted no later than December 31, 2005, a county surcharge on state tax to fund public transportation systems. For those counties that met this requirement the surcharge became effective January 1, 2007.
- Appeals court denies Stop Rail Now Motion for Injunctive Relief, Haw. Land Use Law, Oct. 3, 2008.
- Sean Hao, Rail funds should hold in crisis, Hon. Ad., Sept. 25, 2008.
- Nicholas M. Horrock, Hawaii Rail Trumps Dulles, House Committee chair puts Hawaii Rail over Dulles Rail, The Connection, April 1, 2008.
- Neal Peirce, Does Honolulu provide answer to Seattle's gridlock?, Seattle Times, Aug. 25, 2002.
- Bruce Janssen, Honolulu Mulls Railway to Untangle Traffic Snarls, Page 1D, Wichita Eagle, July 11, 1993.
- Honolulu Drivers Find Traffic Jam in Paradise, NYT, June 27, 1993.
- Honolulu: trains at last?, Railway Age, Nov. 1, 1990.
- Wallace Turner, Honolulu's Mayor Ends Proposal for Rail Line in Downtown Area, NYT, June 28, 1981.
- Wallace Turner, Officials Debate a Rapid Transit Proposal in Honolulu, NYT, December 19, 1977.
Rail Systems I've Ridden
- Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Washington, D.C.)
- TriMet's MAX Light Rail (Portland, OR)
- Sound Transit (Washington)
- BART (San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District)
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority (State of N.Y.)
- MTR Corporation (Hong Kong, China)
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