With support from the Hawai‘i State Legislature, Governor David Ige, Honolulu City Council leadership, and HART, the City has been able to deliver the financial plan to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) which allows for the completion of the rail project to Ala Moana. According to the City, there is no alternative that will provide transportation equity to the tens of thousands of families who will use rail every day to get into town quickly and easily, without spending countless hours in gridlock.
“Doing nothing is unacceptable, and although construction of the rail project has been a challenge, it will provide opportunities for affordable housing and transit-oriented development that would not exist without it,” said Mayor Kirk Caldwell. “I urge the HART Board and new HART Executive Director Andrew Robbins to closely manage the financial plan submitted to the FTA on September 15 and to adhere to the construction timetable for this fully automated rail system.”
Caldwell came under strong criticism by state lawmakers and Hawaii’s Congressional delegation when the total estimate to complete rail continued to change. Neighbor island legislators are particularly disgruntled with what many consider to be an Oahu boondoggle weighing on the backs of their constituents. While the tourism industry continues to denounce the increase in the Transient Accommodations Tax to pay for rail—a strategy that raises revenue to pay for rail by tourists—any shortfall in funds to complete the rail line are expected to be made up by the City. Since there are few revenue generating options and the City has done little to curb expenses to date, it is likely that Caldwell will look at property taxes as the funding mechanism.