Honolulu Rail Lies
by Steven Sofos
Honolulu's rail project has more than quadrupled from the original $3B price tag initially misrepresented, and is now projected to cost $13B for full completion--the most expensive transit project per capita in the world to date!
That is over 6 times the annual budget of the Honolulu C & C costing taxpayers $500M per mile of rail, benefiting only Oahu residents, but paid by all Hawaii taxpayers.
- A series of missteps including gross spending increases, damning audits, rusted support columns, and faulty track pads that needed replacing years before the rail is ready for service.
- The HART board continues to obstruct a full audit of the project.
- Construction on a rail system may now cost as much as $13 billion while “alleviating” road congestion by as little as one percent!
- HART will be more expensive than Boston's Big Dig and the most expensive rail project in history.
- The City chose old technology of the light steel on steel rail.
It is identical to Puerto Rico’s 11-mile Tren Urbano which has now been in operation 11 years, estimated to cost $1.5bil, ended up costing a mere $2.5bil.
Tren Urbano only attracts a third of the rides it needs to break even and maintenance has caused this to become a decaying transit system.
After years of planning, the Tren Urbano rapid transit system was built at nearly 80 percent over-budget. It continues to lose about $50 million a year.
This financial drain has intensified Puerto Rico’s massive debt crisis and pushed it into bankruptcy. Is Hawaii next?
- Parts of the rail run along several tsunami inundation zones.
- The completion of the $500 million-per-mile elevated rail line requires a 10-year extension of a state general excise tax hike to 2037.
- Projections are that the rail surcharge will remain in place forever to cover the necessary replacement of the pads, maintenance and the high expenses associated with running light rail.
- The Bus has been and will continue to be heavily subsidized, but eventually, some tax dollars will have to be transferred from The Bus to The Rail.
- Longtime Caldwell donor, Nan Inc. recently won a $56 million contract to build three West Oahu rail stations. The company, which has taken advantage of federal minority business programs, is at the center of state and federal lawsuits alleging questionable business practices dating back to the early 2000s.
This should have been abandoned long ago because any reasonable organization would not keep throwing good money after bad, it would have to stop the bleeding (construction) or file a petition for bankruptcy. But, this is “government” so it will keep throwing good money (tax dollars) after bad and maintain or increase current budget levels.
Payments for rail are projected to be about the same as all other city bond debt starting in 2026. In 2029, they are projected to be more than all other city bond debt. That covers things like our sewers, water mains, roadways and park improvements. And instead of making cuts, the council increased all of the budgets that came before them this year.